Ornamental and edible gardening adventures.

The Gardener's February 2021 Calendar




The to-do list for February is balanced between spending time dreaming and planning how I can make the garden the best it can be in the coming growing season. 

  • I'm figuring out which plants need to be moved — and where they can be moved to. (I'm eyeing the honeysuckle that has outgrown its spot.)

  • I'm still ordering seeds for anything I missed the first time, and starting to plan out when to begin sowing. (My seed sorting system was shared in last month's chores.)

  • I'm also considering which varieties to grow for ideal succession of crops (and blooms) in the garden. I have limited full sun areas — mainly my driveway — so I'm calculating what will be grown in those spaces. I'm also planning how to make the best use of small spaces, too, like the walls of my shed, for example. (More ideas for growing in small spaces can be found in my upcoming book, "Micro Food Gardening," coming in March!)

Even though the groundhog forecasted six more weeks of winter here in the U.S., here are garden chores you can work on now:

Indoors

  • Seed starting — I'm based in the Northeast U.S., so these are the plants I can start growing this month:
    • You can start seeds of pansies, snapdragons, geraniums, ageratum, nicotiana and petunias. 
    • 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 use a spray bottle. 

  • 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.

  • Houseplants — With the snow covering everything, my attention is back to houseplants. I've been adding more to my collection thanks to the great offerings of local nurseries. If the nearby plant offerings are limited, you may be interested in buying plants online. My friend Angie recently blogged about her experiences with buying plant cuttings online.
    Here are some general houseplant tips to keep in mind this month:
    • Keep an eye on plants throughout the winter to see when they need water. Watering on a set schedule is not fool-proof, since plants may dry out faster with winter heat. Check the soil and how the plant looks before watering (if the soil is already wet, hold off). 
    • Research the growing conditions that your plant needs. There are many great houseplant-themed books filled with info, such as "Grow in the Dark" which I previously reviewed for the blog.
    • You can also check and see if your orchids will be candidates for repotting. 
    • You can fertilize houseplants that show signs of new growth later in the month, too. 
Philodendron 'Birkin' showing off for a photoshoot.


Outdoors

  • 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.

  • Prune apple and pear 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 have pruned my pear tree.

  • Provide clean, fresh 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.
  • 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. (Tips on attracting them can be found here.)  As you are planning what to grow this coming season, consider adding plants that will attract birds 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. (And can continue to feed them when left standing throughout the winter.)

  • Speaking of birds... Bluebirds begin looking for their seasonal 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.

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

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