The Gardener's February Calendar



The to-do list for February is balanced with spending time dreaming and staring out the windows and figuring out how I can make my garden the best it can be.

This involves considering the succession of bloom in the garden, the best use of space, tucking in edibles along with my ornamentals and figuring out ways to conserve water. (Whew!)

Mainly, when I'm caught gazing out the window, I'm mentally imagining how the garden will look its best on the limited time availability I have.

No matter what the groundhog says, here are garden chores you can work on now:


Water sprouts are some of the branches that
can be trimmed from fruit trees in late February.
  • Remove dead leaves from hellebores — This makes room for the new growth that will be starting soon. (If it hasn't already started!)
  • Prune fruit trees  The end of February is a good time to trim pear and apple trees. The general guideline is to wait until the coldest part of the winter has passed before pruning, but before the spring warmup kicks in. Make sure your pruning shears are sharp and clean before you go outside and tackle this project. Still nervous? Here's how I prune my pear tree.
  • Seed starting — Organize all the seed packets according to planting date. Figure out what your estimated last frost date is. (This website will help.) Then count backward from that week. This is your growing season. So when a packet of seeds says to start them inside eight weeks before the last average frost, for example, count back eight weeks from your last frost date. If you haven't ordered all your seeds yet, now is the time to do so before they sell out. 
    • You can start seeds of pansies, snapdragons, geraniums, ageratum, nicotiana and petunias now. For veggies, it's time to start onions, leeks, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts.
  • Clean containers for seeds — The same rules of seed starting that applied last month apply this month, too. Be sure to sterilize old containers you are reusing and trays under grow lights. In the past, I have used a diluted bleach solution to wipe down my trays, but you can also use soap and water first, and then vinegar to disinfect (I tend to do this more now because I'm often indoors when cleaning). For the bleach solution, use a 1:9 ratio. Seed containers can be soaked in the solution for 10-15 minutes (you can use a five gallon bucket) and then can be air dried. For the vinegar solution, you can simply put it in a spray bottle and spray down the containers. For extra good measure, you can alternate and spray with hydrogen peroxide, too.
  • Clean water — It's important to keep a source of water available for the birds since may natural sources of water freeze. Even the squirrels come over and drink from the heated birdbath at this time of year.
  • Check for damage — Check outside plants and trees for animal damage, and apply wrapping if necessary. If plants have been pushed out of the ground by frost, reposition them in the ground. 
  • Force blooms — Go outside and trim branches of forsythia, witch hazel and pussy willows. Bring them inside and put them in a vase of water. Within a week they will bloom. Instant spirit lifter.
  • Prune grape vines — When grapevines are dormant is the best time to prune them. Here's a good article on everything you need to know.
  • Birding  Just like last winter, I've spent a lot of time looking out my window at all the different birds that visit the feeders at this time of year. I want to continue to grow plants that will attract birds to my garden all year long. For example, growing trees like crab apples and bushes like winterberry are more likely to attract bluebirds in the winter months. Flowers that go to seed, like echinacea, attract goldfinches in the late summer and fall. Now is the time to figure out where you can fit these plants and shrubs into your landscape.
  • Houseplants — With the snow covering everything, my attention goes back to houseplants, such as orchids, that need repotting. You can fertilize houseplants that show signs of new growth now as well.
  • Garden shows — Which ones will you be attending this winter? Garden shows offer lots of ideas for gardeners when they can't necessarily get outside and work in the garden.
  • Bluebirds! Bluebirds begin looking for their home in February, so if you have a bluebird house, now is the time to get it mounted on a pole for them to inspect.

Remember: spring is coming. The snow will melt. Onward!

I live in Central Connecticut and garden in Zone 6b.

Updated Feb. 2019.

Comments

  1. What great and timely ideas! Just love to watch the birds especially in the winter!

    ReplyDelete
  2. superb calendar for gardening and love your decoration
    Thank you for this.......
    Beauty write for us

    ReplyDelete

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