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February Gardening Tips

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Yard Plants

  • February is the last of the key pruning months for your deciduous trees and shrubs. Early February can bring deep cold so be sure and prune only on days where the temperature is above freezing. February offers many mild days for pruning, transplanting, and installing new plants in the garden.
  • You can also apply fertilizer to your trees and shrubs in late February. Mid-month pull mulch away from emerging bulbs and perennials. As plant buds begin to swell and put on their spring growth leap, they need nutrients. In spring, trees, shrubs and perennial plants grow using stored reserves of nutrients from the root system. Replacing these reserves is a vital part of keeping plants healthy. Feed and prune your roses toward the end of the month or early March.
  • Leaving on the old wood for now will help protect the plant if we have any extremely cold days. Be sure and remove all leftover leaves on and around your rose bushes. Black spot, powdery mildew and rust infesting the plants from previous years will remain on the old leaves.
  • Now, when trees are leafless, is a good time to inspect trunk, branches, and bark of diseases or insect problems. Get acquainted with the normal, healthy appearance of the plants and become aware of oddities and deviations from normal. Removing dead or diseased wood helps improve plant shape and health.
  • On milder days, when temperatures are above 40 and it’s not raining, dormant oil spraying can be done. These dormant oil sprays help suppress over wintering stages of scales as well as mite and aphid eggs. Also lime-sulfur gives some partial control of powdery mildew on roses and other susceptible shrubs.
  • Sow hardy annuals like sweet peas, bachelor buttons, California poppies. Check under your eaves for desiccated plants; water if needed. Hunt slugs on emerging bulb and perennial shoots. Be sure and get after the cold weather weeds and grasses in your beds.

Lawn Care

Starlings pecking at the turf help remove soil grubs such as crane fly larvae. The crane fly larvae are still dormant so any treatment will be totally ineffective. Check lawn for standing puddles, correct drainage, or replace lawn with better adapted ground covers. Also plan to adjust the pH on your lawn if needed. Get a moss treatment down later this month or the first part of March if your lawn needs it. Be sure and use a finer powder iron rather that the pelletized versions. It is much more effective.

Vegetable Garden

Order seeds, choosing varieties adapted to this region. Plan to rotate crop placement from last year so everything is in a different spot. Eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower can all be seeded indoors now under a florescent shop light for the necessary light. At month's end, move starts into a cold frame or sheltered outdoor location to toughen. Don't dig in your garden if it is mucky but if it is dry enough to work, prepare vegetable area with compost or other organic additions. You can plant hardy garlic, shallots and onions.

Children's Garden

Plant a small apple tree (On very dwarfing rootstock like M-27) Choose Liberty, Spartan or another of those that resist scab. Find the earliest crocus and snowdrops blooming. Plant a blueberry bush in a sunny spot and water faithfully through the summer. Blueberries love heavy damp soil.