February is a tough month for gardeners. You’re never sure what to expect with the weather, everything is bleak and bloomless, and you can’t go outside without a heavy coat on. However, if you want your garden in top shape for the coming spring season, now is the time for planning and depending on your location, there’s even a few things to do in the garden.
Get Your Spring Shopping Done:
Grab your notepad and head out in to the garden. Take a look around and make note of anything you need to get. Do you have all of the seeds you need? Do you need a new watering can or gloves? Are you stocked up on Earth Safe fertilizers? This gives you time to prepare and purchase everything you need, so you can start the spring gardening season off smoothly.
Look Out for Inside Plant Intruders:
You’re not the only one that’s inside hiding from the crisp weather – pests may nestle themselves in to the leaves of your plants and take over. Each time you water, give them a quick look over. Pay particular attention to the undersides of leaves, and all the nooks and crannies where leaves attach to stems, and where stems fork. These are all places insect pests like to hang out. Evidence of pest problems include holes or brown speckles on leaves, fine webs covering part of the plant, wilting and premature leaf dropping. Many pests of house plants are very tiny and hard to see. If you spot any bugs there are houseplant-specific insecticides you can buy, but for a more natural solution try a neem oil spray. Talk to your local plant specialist to determine what your best option is.
Plant Cool Season Vegetables:
If you live in coastal areas you can plant the most cold tolerant vegetables, such as, peas, green onions, winter greens, potatoes, etc. You should also be watching your winter crops for maturity. If your overwintering kale is bolting, pick the tender flowering shoots before they open. They are delicious eaten fresh or lightly sautéed; having a more delicate and mild flavour. Get a strong start on your early plantings by using floating row cover or cloches to passively improve growing conditions. With a bit protection spinach and lettuce can be planted.
Start Warm Season Seeds Indoors:
It’s still too cold to plant a lot of vegetables and flowers outdoors, but for many heat loving and long season crops, now is the time to start them indoors. You can use a soilless medium and some grow lights equipped with timers to get a head start on peppers, begonia, mint, tomatoes, onions, and perennial herbs. Start your seeds on top of the fridge for a little added warmth to spur germination.
Prune Shrubs and Trees:
For those in mild climates, shrubs and trees can be pruned. Other in colder climates will want to wait for late march when temperatures improve, but before perennials come out of dormancy. Pruning your shrubs back while dormant promotes lush new growth as the weather gets warmer, but make sure that you research your plant before going at it with pruners. With most plants, you’ll want to start by finding any broken, diseased or dead branches and clipping them off about 1 inch from a node. It’s also a good idea to cut back any climbers that are starting to invade windows or entrance ways to your home. More adventurous growers will prune for form, but this takes some vision and discipline for success. Good pruning can also reduce the incidence of pests and disease by opening up the canopy to improve airflow.
Check Evergreens for Damage:
Believe it or not, full grown trees actually need attention too. Check the needles for any browning or brittleness. In most cases you can just prune these branches out and the tree will bounce back, but in severe cases the entire tree may suffer. If the winter has been fairly dry, consider soaking the soil around the base of your evergreens once a month.