I am surprised that my monthly list of chores has become the most popular of our blog posts. My sometimes snarky but always timely list of garden chores you need to get done this month is mostly a compilation of answers to the most commonly posed questions I get at the garden center. We love to answer questions at the store, mostly because it’s often more fun than deadheading the petunias!
For the month of February THE ANSWER IS NO: No, you probably shouldn’t start your vegetable seed now, unless it’s for a cool-season crop and you know you can protect them once placed outside in late March! Seeds started indoors too early stretch, dampen off and perform poorly compared to ones sowed directly into the garden when temperatures allow.
Review 2018, Revise for 2019
Planning is what my February garden chores are all about. Planning and a hefty dose of dreaming is what gets me through dark, cold and snowy days while I’m not so patiently waiting for Alec to open up the greenhouses and get this growing season started!
Your top priority in planning is to do a review of what worked well last season. Take a mental spin through your 2018 garden and if possible look through photos. If you didn’t take any, resolve to keep photo records in 2019. List anything you want to do more or less or just plain differently. My memory of the my containers and planters is often a bit more romanticized perfect than the weedy looking reality my photos show. I like to keep this in mind before the overindulging plant shopping temptation (and then spring fever) takes hold of me.
Resolve to use resolution type thinking! Do you want to grow more herbs or change up your entryway containers? February is the ideal time to plan than new butterfly garden – or even to just pick new annuals or perennials to plant that will attract and feed the butterflies.
February is also the month to keep an eye out for for spider mites, mealybugs and scale insects on your houseplants. These nasty little buggers move in with your plants in the fall and by this time they are making their presence know. Sticky patches of sap on the floor or table under your plants is the telltale sign of scale, one of the hardest insects to control. If tackled before they get out of hand, nonchemical methods are usually successful: a simple shower, insecticidal soap spray or horticultural oil (as directed on labels) or with the most tenacious (like mealybugs) sometimes an alcohol swab and Q-tip. Overwatering is the biggest risk to houseplants in winter, so go easy with the watering can and make sure the soil is dry to the touch before you water.
I don’t usually feed my houseplants in the low-light months of winter, but by late February, as plants begin to notice the accumulation of “extra” minutes of daylight, I resume by feeding them bi-weekly. I do make exceptions for my african violets, kalanchoe and orchids which all continue to get fertilized during the winter.
Getting restless anyone? Me too! I am ready to get up and grow – but the weather is not! My March blog promises to hold many more chores like pruning fruit trees and re-potting houseplants. So rather than torture tomato seeds by starting them too soon you’ll be able to divert that energy into fruit-tree pruning and into making plans for when spring really does arrives to install a water garden, improve your compost set-up, or finally get a deer fence!
All our best,
Michelle and Team Lakeview