Avant Gardening

Your March Gardening Checklist and Planting Potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day


Does the above quote from Charles Dickens sum up your feelings at this time of year? Our team at Avant Gardening and Landscaping can relate. We know any work outside right now is completely dependent on the weather. It’s also why we’re pretty sure no one in Wisconsin plants potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day! This deeply rooted Irish tradition goes back many years, but when you live in a cold region as we do, the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates a better bet would be to plant your potatoes in April.

So, what can you do in the garden at this time of year? Here’s a checklist of our favorite ideas for March:

  1. Attract Birds With Nesting Materials:  Nesting seasons vary depending on species of bird, but breeding periods typically start in March and April. Encourage your feathered friends to take up residence in your backyard by providing a variety of construction material in a visible area. Fill an empty suet cage or basket loosely with items like yarn and string, hair or animal fur, cotton balls, broom bristles or mop string, dental floss or shredded paper. Hang or set it out where it will stay dry and accessible.
  2. Don’t Rush:  The ground is still thawing and snow is melting, and it can be too wet in our perennial beds to start planting and dividing this early in the season. Instead of risking compacting the soil, use this time to clean and sharpen your garden tools.
  3. Watch for Spring Bloomers:  Look for crocus, early irises, and the unique hellebore. Later in March, you might find some bright blue Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) or the first of the native wildflowers, such as Hepatica spp. Sprouts of the native Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) and Monkshood (Aconitum spp) are usually breaking through the soil.
  4. Tackle Spring Clean Up:  Many people organize the annual “Spring House Cleaning,” but it is important to do this in your landscape as well, and if the thought overwhelms you – give us a call! Cut back old foliage and dead flower stalks left standing for winter interest, such as ornamental grasses, coneflowers, sedums, etc. Rake away fallen leaves and foliage (which could smother plants and foster disease) you may have missed last fall.
  5. Start Herb Seeds:  Get your hands a little dirty and think about starting some edibles indoors! As long as you have a window (ideally south-facing) that gets at least 4 hours of sunlight each day, you should be able to get a head-start on your herb gardening. Try Basil, Rosemary, Sage, Mint & Chives. With a little more sunlight (between 6-8 hours a day) you can also try Parsley and Cilantro.
  6. Decide on a New Garden Project:  Visit your local library and get inspired by books on a specific project – some of our favorites to consider includes designing a rain garden, planting a pollinator’s paradise, or constructing a raised vegetable bed.

You may not be able to plant your St. Patrick’s Day potatoes, but hopefully a little luck of the Irish will shine on you during the gardening season ahead.