As some of my readers know, I live in a coastal village south of Big Sur and north of San Luis Obispo. I consider myself a Central Coast Gardener even though this term can mean many things. East of us, along the Hwy 101 corridor, it can be 20 degrees hotter in the day and 20 degrees colder at night. I have to be careful when I talk of central coast gardening that I differentiate between the two regions. On the whole, my experience is with he cooler climate.
March is a good time to begin planting along the coast. Thanks to El Nino currents, we’re getting the rain we badly need. In our coastal community the soil is saturated and mushy. It is clearly not a time to be working the soil. In fact, if you can avoid it, stay off the soil in your beds to avoid compacting it. Use this time to pull small weeds. do last-minute pruning, and get your seed packages organized. I go after oxalis (that little yellow flower with sour tasting stems and shamrock-shaped leaves) with a vengeance. It spreads from seeds and also from little corms that grow along its taproot. It spoils the look of succulent gardens and distracts the eye in flower beds. It’s innocent “perky” little flower doesn’t fool me!
Early March is a good time to sow seeds for chard. Chard grows year-around along the coast. What we don’t eat, the chickens do. It seldom goes to seed as does spinach, and is easy to care for. I planted carrots and lettuce in my vegetable beds in late February. If you have a place indoors, early March is a good time to start seedlings. In cool areas you can start broccoli, celery, cauliflower, and basil, tomatoes, and summer squash indoors. Wait a couple of months to start pumpkins and fall-winter squash, it needs warmer soil.
As soon as the soil drains, I’ll apply steer manure and worm compost to the soil around the roses. The roses are beginning to leaf out and I know from experience, that as soon as I fertilizer they’ll burst into leaf. When the leaves dry, I’ll spray for fungus. We have considerable problems with black spot and rust here along the coast and roses should be sprayed every two weeks.
Be on the lookout for snails and slugs. I’m sure with the moisture we are having, we’ll be overrun with those slippery mollusks. Click here and see a blog on slugs and snails on this site, or go to Pest Note 7427 for all the information you would ever need on snail and slug control.
Aphids, mealy bugs, and spittle bugs will begin to appear as the days warm. Squirt them with a strong stream of water to remove them from the tender new growth. Use poisonous spray only as a last resort. There are plenty of beneficial bugs who will help you rid your garden of these culprits. If you use insecticides, these “good” bugs will bite the dust along with the pests.
If you can’t help yourself, buy plants now for later planting. Wait to plant until the soil is crumbly and workable. Dig your hole twice the width of the pot and about the same depth of the plants you are planting. After filling in the hole, water, and place mulch a few inches away from the stem, covering the area over the roots. Remember, even drought-tolerent plants need regular watering the first year, then you can slack off.
Good luck and happy planting!