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MID-WINTER CHORES AND OTHER FEBRUARY GARDENING TIPS

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It’s hard to be inspired about gardening when the ground is frozen and wintry winds howl outside your window. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get into gardening this month.

While February is still too early to start most seeds indoors, it’s the right time to prepare for seeding by purchasing seed flats, containers, and peat pellets, as well as check your cold frame for needed repairs. It’s also a good time to finish up your seed order, if you haven’t done so already.

If you want to grow your own celery, leek, or onion transplants, February is the time to start them because these slow growers need several months before they are ready to set out. This also is the time to start small-seeded flowers such as begonias and petunias

If you potted bulbs for forcing last fall, check their progress. Soil should be barely moist. If tips have sprouted and have a few inches of growth, bring the pot into a cool, bright room (50 to 60 degrees F). Gradually expose the plant to increasing warmth and indirect sunlight. Increase waterings. Feed once a week with half-strength houseplant fertilizer.
To help the stems grow straight, turn the pot every day. When buds and foliage are fully developed, bring into full sunlight, and enjoy!

If you didn’t force any bulbs, you can still brighten up your home by forcing branches of spring-flowering trees such as forsythia, dogwood, and crabapple. It’s simple. Just cut the branches, place them in a bucket of warm water, and recut the stems to enhance water absorption. Then sit back and let nature take over. In a few days the branches should produce flowers.

Outdoors, check your perennial plants. An “open winter,” like this one demonstrates the need for protective mulch on strawberries and many perennial flowers as well as garlic, over-wintered spinach, and other crops that can easily be damaged by alternate warming and freezing of the soil. Although it is too late to undo any damage that’s done, mulching now can prevent additional damage caused by spring fluctuations in soil temperatures.

You also should take a walk around the garden to check for ice and snow damage to shrubs, evergreens, and trees. Look for damage by rabbits and rodents, too. Install hardware cloth around stems to protect against further damage.

February is a great time to think about the birds. In addition to keeping the feeders full, you can attract them to your yard and garden next spring by building a birdhouse now.

There are a few things to keep in mind. First, the size of the entrance must be proportionate to the type of bird you want to attract. You also will need to provide a rough surface both inside and outside the entrance to facilitate access.

In addition, ventilation holes are important. When you put up your birdhouse this spring, be sure to place it at least six feet off the ground to keep cats, raccoons, and other predators away. A protective collar hung just below the birdhouse also deters unwelcome visitors.

Plans for building birdhouses are available in many gardening books. Or browse the Internet, which is also a source of good information on a number of gardening topics.

October in the Garden

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There is no season when such pleasant and sunny spots may be lighted on, and produce so pleasant an effect on the feelings, as now in October.  ~~Nathaniel Hawthorne

 

Happy October!

This month we welcome fall, celebrate the harvest, decorate and carve pumpkins for Halloween, and create all sorts of yummy recipes with them. The worst of summer’s heat should be over and cooler temperatures heading our way.

October is a great month in the garden too! It’s a great time to take a fresh look around your garden, find tired perennials that need to be cleaned up, or divided and transplanted.  Do you see spots that could use brightening up with annual color? Do you have herbs that you’d like to harvest and preserve to use in the winter? Now is the time!

Replace your summer color with cool season annuals. Decorate your entryway with containers of mums and asters accented by colorful pumpkins and gourds and enjoy the beautiful weather. When you stop by our garden center, let us show you plants that have great fall color, berries, and flowers. Plant those now to enjoy in fall for years to come.

 

Take this helpful checklist with you into your garden:

October Garden Checklist:

  • Divide perennials and replant them; cut back faded blooms and dead foliage
  • Fall is for planting – plant new perennials, trees and shrubs
  • Transplant existing trees and shrubs as needed
  • Plant cool season annuals like African daisies, sweet peas, pansies and snapdragons– remember to water them regularly while temperatures are still warm
  • Also plant cool season edibles like lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots, peas, broccoli, and cauliflower
  • Plant bulbs now for a brilliant spring show
  • On your porch and patio –protect your furniture and grill. Slip-on covers will protect them during the winter
  • To add color throughout the winter, place brightly colored container gardens filled with annuals throughout your garden.

New Fall Decor Arrival!

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New item for fall! Pumpkin chimeneas! Stop by to see our unique selection of this new product line now available at Daniels!