March is a great time to start preparing your garden beds for spring planting. I recommend adding Back to Earth Compost at a rate of 1-2 cf bag per 50 sq. ft. of area and 1-1 cf bag of manure. Bone Meal and Soft Rock Phosphate are good sources of organic phosphorus which is necessary for root growth, blooming and fruiting. These do not move well through the soil so it is a good idea to mix them into the soil before you plant. Kelp and Greensand are full of potash (potassium) and micronutrients. Plants need potash for overall hardiness and disease resistance and require micronutrients for many biochemical plant processes.
Pruning your roses is also a March chore. The reasons for pruning are to direct growth, increase light and air penetration, improve flower production and maintain health and vigor. In our mountain desert you want to wait until the first few leaf buds begin to break before you prune. If you prune them too early you will encourage them to grow and that new growth will be damaged by freezing temperatures. Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, and Grandifloras should be pruned as follows. Begin pruning by removing any dead, damaged or diseased wood back to where the cane has a healthy, white middle. Prune out weak, thin or spindly growth that crowds the center back to its source, leaving no stubs. Dig down to remove suckers that originate below the soil line. Pull them off in a quick downward motion. This removes the growth buds that would produce more suckers. Then thin your roses to 4-7 strong, healthy canes and remove 1/3 to 1/2 of last year's growth. Climbers and Ramblers often bloom on 1 or 2 year old wood and only once a year. They should be pruned after blooming by cutting the main shoots back by 1/3 and removing small, woody growth. Lateral branches may be taken back to 3-6" if they have gotten out of control. Repeat flowering Climbers should be pruned in early spring and spent flowers should be removed to hasten reblooming. Shrub, Hedge and Rugosa roses need only be cleaned up occasionally by taking out any dead wood and crossing branches. Miniatures and Ground Covers should be cut back by at least1/2 of their height in early spring while removing any weak or twiggy growth. Always use sharp, quality pruning tools and make cuts at a 45 degree angle sloping away from the bud. When removing spent flowers, prune back to an outward facing leaf with 5 leaflets. This is where a new flower will come from.
Silver Heights Nursery will be open beginning March 30th, 2010, Tuesday- Saturday, 9:00-5:30 at 1950 Hwy. 180 East in Silver City, New Mexico. I will be carrying the usual and unusual perennials and annuals, trees, shrubs, Back to Earth Compost, Uni-Gro Potting Soil, Manure, Top Soil, Organic Fertilizers, Pest Controls, Glazed and Clay Pottery and much more. Hope to see you soon.