DIRT THERAPY By Marianne Taylor
DIRT THERAPY By Marianne Taylor

By Marianne Taylor

I love March! Okay, a shameless plug: it’s my birthday and my granddaughter’s as well, and I have just celebrated my sixth year as The Capistrano Dispatch dirt therapist garden columnist. I love sharing with you what I’ve learned along the way with gardening and wellness in nature.

This year, I’ve decided to take a couple of different approaches with my monthly column, from sharing monthly garden tips for sowing and growing to engaging with you and hearing about your garden successes and failures. Sharing garden knowledge connects the community in a greater way, with insights and ideas that inspire and teach us as a whole. Please share your garden glories or garden nightmares with me at marianne@goinnative.net. Next month’s garden spotlight just might be your garden.

We’ve had a very cold California winter with morning temperatures still in the lows 40s. Our daytime temperatures sometimes fluctuate 20 to 30 degrees in a day, helping sprout, in warp speed, all kinds of new growth in the gardens—including those invasive and virulent weeds! Don’t let those garden villains take over; this is the time to get in your garden and pull those weeds from the roots by hand. Doing this now will increase your plant growth and blooms and decrease those weeds showing up again this summer.

The soil is moist, so this is the optimum time to get out in the gardens and tidy up for a blooming spring and summer. This is our typical month for rain, so if you haven’t yet added a rain barrel to your collection of garden tools, this is the time to purchase and install. There are many decorative styles on the market to choose from, making this garden tool a permanent garden fixture in your landscape.

Get out your garden gloves, your hand tools and dig those weeds out of your garden.

For sowing and growing success, here are 10 tips for gardening in March:

  1. Check tools. Give your tools a once-over. Repair or replace.
  2. Check irrigation system for broken heads or leaks. Check timer. Repair or replace.
  3. Remove weeds by hand. Dig out the root; don’t just cut off the tops.
  4. Remove old plant and deadhead flowers from planters, raised beds and containers.
  5. Amend the soil for new plants.
  6. Plant flower and vegetable seeds.
  7. Plant California native plants, fruit trees and roses.
  8. Prepare the compost bin or worm bin.
  9. Get a rain barrel to capture rainwater all year long.
  10. Grab a notebook and take notes on what you’ve done this month for next year’s reminder.

Get lost in the garden this month and find daily success in what you’ve sown. Gardening is the art of trial and error; it’s the great equalizer, teaching humility along the way. You never have it quite right, because nature is always changing. As this season of sowing begins, take time to enjoy the gardens you’re tidying as time to nurture yourself. The gardens provide more than food, beauty and habitats; they provide a place to refresh, relax and restore our souls. While you’re gardening, be sure to carve out a garden room of your own as a place to ponder. Be sure to check our website at goinnative.net for upcoming free garden classes and workshops.

Marianne Taylor, of San Juan Capistrano, is the founder and executive director of Goin’ Native Therapeutic Gardens, 501(c)(3), teaching gardening and life skills as a way of empowering, engaging and connecting people. Goin’ Native focuses on educating local families, special- needs adults, seniors, at-risk youth and members of the military.

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