You are here

Gardeners Checklist: Here Is What to Do on the Week of March 25

Gardeners Checklist: Here Is What to Do on the Week of March 25

By Ron Kujawski

* Apply a deer and rabbit repellent to protect crocus from being munched on. Also, apply the repellent to other plants that are in danger of becoming breakfast, lunch and dinner for these animals. Sadly, the critters do not make reservations ahead of time … and they leave no tips.

 * Start tomato seeds indoors this week or next. It may seem late but several studies have shown that transplants that are six to eight weeks old when set out will grow better and yield more fruit per plant than hardened older seedlings. Just the same, I started a couple of plants two weeks ago and will grow these in containers indoors until I can set them out on the deck in June. 

* Get out last year’s tomato stakes. Scrub off any soil clinging to the stakes with a wire brush, wash the stakes with soapy water, and then wipe or spray some hydrogen peroxide or vinegar onto the stakes as a disinfectant. Why go through all this trouble? Spores of the most troublesome leaf and stem diseases of tomatoes can be carried over winter on the stakes.

* Save the shells from your Easter eggs. Crush these into tiny pieces. Finely crushed egg shells placed around newly transplanted seedlings of vegetables and flowers scan be effective deterrents to slugs, snails, and cutworms.

* Start regular tick checks of yourself and your pets. I’ve already had reports of deer ticks hitching rides on pets and people who have been roaming outdoors. The incidences of tick related diseases have been increasing in recent years. These are very serious diseases. Besides routine body checks, apply a repellent such as permethrin to clothing before jumping into the pucker bush or engaging in other gardening and outdoor recreational activities.

* Gradually remove mulches from strawberry beds, garlic plantings, and flower borders. By gradually, I don’t mean working in slow motion. Gradually means removing half the mulch this week and the rest next week if temperatures don’t go much below freezing. Leave the removed mulch near plants in case they have to be covered if a hard freeze (below 28 degrees F) is predicted.

 * * * 

Step outdoors and scan your yard. Pause for a moment ……… time's up. Do you see any worn paths across your lawns? Here’s a clue to help identify worn paths: The grass is greening up everywhere except where soil is compacted from frequent foot traffic. What’s my point? Obviously, someone, maybe you, has chosen to follow the same pathway across the lawn on the way to somewhere. You could try to redirect traffic by planting a barrier of shrubs in strategic locations. My preference would be for thorny (shrub roses) or prickly (junipers) shrubs to dissuade anyone contemplating sneaking through the barrier. A second option is to simply make the worn path a permanent path using stepping stones or gravel, or via the more costly installation of a brick or flagstone walkway. Though no one might be wearing a path across the lawn, consider creating a permanent walkway anyway, even if it goes nowhere. After all, some people build bridges that lead to nowhere, why not walkways?

One more thing: Committed gardeners never stop learning, whether it be from their own experiences or from friends and occasionally from formal presentations such as the classes and lectures at the Botanical Garden. Another upcoming source is the annual Western Massachusetts Gardener Association Spring Into Gardening Symposium on April 6, at Lenox Memorial Middle and High School. For detailed information and registration, go to I’ll be there!

Ron Kujawski began gardening at an early age on his family's onion farm in upstate New York. Although now retired, he spent most of his career teaching at the UMass Extension Service. He serves on Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Horticulture Advisory Committee. His book, Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook, is available here.



Help Our Garden Grow!

Your donation helps us to educate and inspire visitors of all ages on the art and science of gardening and the preservation of our environment.

All Donations are 100% tax deductible.