Expect crocus and other early-spring arrivals to make an appearance...

Expect crocus and other early-spring arrivals to make an appearance in March. (March 16, 2007) Credit: Howard Schnapp

In like a lion and out like a lamb, as the saying goes. And as far as the March weather is concerned, that expectation can be pretty accurate. But for gardeners, the opposite is true: The month begins with laid-back chores and ends in full swing. Enjoy the journey back from winter.

1. It's time for my fifth annual Spring Garden Watch: Upload photos of your crocuses, pansies and other signs of spring at newsday.com/springblooms.

2. Apply a 5-10-5 fertilizer to spring-flowering bulbs as soon as they poke out of the ground.

3. Take inventory of your seed-starting supplies. It's almost time to put them to work.

4. Replant houseplants into pots that are 1-2 inches larger, and give them a dose of organic seaweed fertilizer.

5. Test the pH levels in planting beds. Buy a kit or bring a soil sample to a Cornell Cooperative Extension office (516-228-0426 in Nassau, 631-727-7850 in Suffolk).

6. Remember, it's illegal in Nassau and Suffolk to fertilize the lawn before April 1.

7. If you're planning on adding new trees or shrubs to your landscape, now's the time. But don't fertilize until the roots become established.

8. Need to rearrange? Move shrubs now, while they're still dormant.

9. Cut back ornamental grasses and last year's perennials if you didn't last fall.

10. Prune fruit trees before new growth begins.

11. Start seeds of annuals indoors.

12. Plant cool-season crops like lettuce and spinach outdoors.

13. Daylight Saving Time begins. Although technically we lose an hour, think of it as gaining extra daylight. Spend it in the garden.

14. Prune butterfly bush all the way to the ground. Don't worry, it'll grow back in no time.

15. Beware the Ides of March, and beware walking on frozen soil and grass: You could do a lot of harm.

16. Sow pea, lettuce and radish seeds directly into the garden.

17. It's St. Patrick's Day. Get into the spirit with a Shamrock plant. Look for Oxalis regnellii at the nursery.

18. Sow broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower indoors.

19. Start caladium tubers (knobs up) and tuberous begonias (hollow side up) 2 inches deep in a 50/50 peat-perlite mix indoors. Bury cannas only halfway, eyes up.

20. Spring begins today at exactly 7:21 p.m.(EDT). Plant some pansies to celebrate.

21. As long as the soil isn't too moist, incorporate lime and compost into the vegetable garden, then cover with plastic mulch to warm the soil.

22. Thin brambles (raspberries, blackberries, etc.)

23. Add some nitrogen-rich fish meal to the compost pile to jump-start the action. Blood meal works, too.

24. Remove broken stems from lilacs and rhododendrons, but don't prune intact ones with buds on them.

25. Start dividing and planting perennials.

26. Start seeds of peppers, tomatoes and eggplants indoors.

27. Overseed bare spots in the lawn. Seed once a week and water lightly twice a day until filled in.

28. Cut smooth hydrangeas to the ground, thin last year's growth on peegees, and remove dead wood at the base of oak-leaf hydrangeas, but let macrophyllas be.

29.Be proactive: Pull weeds now to lessen their numbers later.

30. Prune blueberry bushes, maintaining just six to nine branches per plant.

31. Clean out debris that mysteriously appeared in the garden despite having been cleared away in fall. It's party time!

DON'T MISS THIS LIMITED-TIME OFFER1 5 months for only $1Save on Unlimited Digital Access