March

General Tasks

  • Complete planting of new fruit trees and bushes.
  • Continue spraying against pests.
  • Plant strawberries outside.
  • Plant raspberries, gooseberries and currants.

The Fruit Garden in Early Spring

What to do in the Fruit Garden in March

Complete the panting of all bare-rooted trees, bushes and canes before growth starts. Plants grown in containers can be planted more or less at any time; though the dormant season (November-March) is still the best time. Also complete the planting of any new trees or bushes that have been heeled in as soon as weather permits. Firm any newly planted ones that have been lifted by frost.

Spray apples, cherries, peaches, pears and plums against pests. Fruit trees should be sprayed at bud burst (just as the bud tips separate into leaves).

Pruning Fruit Trees and Bushes in March

Tree, bush fruits and autumn raspberries, must be pruned by the end of the month. The raspberries are pruned by cutting the old fruited canes right down to the ground. The pruning of apple and pear trees is covered in January. The last trees to be pruned should be plums so that the risk of infection from 'silver leaf' fungus is reduced. In country areas, leave the pruning of red currants and gooseberries until just before growth starts in the spring.

Strawberries

Strawberry beds can be started now. Select an open, sunny site, and make sure it has been deeply dug and well manured. Space the plants 45 cm (18 in) apart, in rows 60 cm (2 ft) apart. Check that you haven't covered the growing points of the crowns with soil. Keep well watered and weeded. Ventilate strawberries grown under cloches, especially on sunny days.

Raspberries

Raspberries may be planted now, or left until the autumn. It is easier to plant raspberries in trenches than in individual holes, as they are spaced relatively close together, with 45 cm (18 in) between plants. Select a sunny, sheltered site. This is especially important for summer-fruiting raspberries, because they flower earlier than autumn-fruiting ones. Cut the canes back to 23 cm (9 in) above ground. Canes tied to a single-fence system in August should be pruned 15 cm (6 in) above the top wire. Pinch the tips from canes trained between parallel wires to encourage growth.

Gooseberries

Gooseberries should be planted in a moisture retentive, rich soil containing plenty of potash. Gooseberries, can tolerate light shade as well as full sun. Space plants 1.5m (5 ft) apart. After planting, cut the main shoots back by half, and cut out any weak, dead or diseased wood completely.

Currants

Blackcurrants, white currants and redcurrants be planted now, 1.5m (5 ft) apart. Plant blackcurrants 5cm (2 in) below the soil mark. This encourages plants to send out strong shoots that will form its framework. After planting, cut back the shoot to three or four buds above ground.

Frost Protection for Fruit Trees and Bushes

This is more important in March than February because more fruits will have started into growth. As the season moved into April and May, the need for vigilance becomes even greater. The simplest form of protection, is to drape fleece or netting over bushes and small trees at night when frost threatens, then removing them in the morning.

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Fruit for March

Time to enjoy the last of the stored apples and pears.

Apple and Pear