Marching Orders
What to do now to have the perfect flower beds and gardens this summer.

1. Devise a plan. Good gardeners are clever architects, and a well-conceived design ensures that your yard will be a sight to behold (i.e., the eighth wonder of the world we told you about).

2. Mulch as if your life depended on it. The two or three layers of mulch you apply now secure and protect your plants, enrich their environment, and beautify your beds. Use bark, compost, or even brightly colored gravel.

3. March is the prime time to plant spring and summer annuals. Depending on your gardening zone, you may begin early in the month or wait until the end. Common annuals include petunias, geraniums, heliotropes, impatiens, marigolds, and begonias.

4. For most gardening zones, March is also the month for onions. Plant them as soon as you can work the ground. Buy onion sets (these are baby onions that are about the size of a dime) and plant each with the tip of the bulb and its green shoot barely exposed. Reserve some sets in your fridge and then plant them weekly to ensure a good crop.

5. It's time to sow tomatoes, radishes, eggplants, cabbages, lettuces, and peppers indoors. You can use one-liter milk cartons; staple or tape the pouring lip and poke holes in the bottom for drainage. About five seedlings will emerge, and they can be transplanted into your warm spring garden in about a month.

6. Begin building your greenhouse for the winter. If you wait until the first frost, you'll be sorry. Plus, starting this far in advance means you can go beyond the utilitarian version and erect a structure that you'll be thrilled to spend time in. In addition to lots of shelves and plenty of floor space for plant storage, consider adding a hot tub. Imagine: you with all that greenery, soaking your cares away on cold winter nights.