Thursday, February 3, 2011

February Groundwork

The month of February offers an opportunity to expand our home gardens and prepare for spring, (yes, these cold nights will pass). George Brookbank, one of my favorite desert gardening experts refers to February as the in-between month," It's the end of winter, but not quite spring." Do we continue to plant winter vegetables that will use our garden space or get a jump-start on summer planting? If you have enough space, you have the best of both worlds. If not, February is a great time to add a new garden box, or a halved wine barrel. Save your black plastic pots from your local nursery and use them for your new transplants until space opens up in your garden. At Love Apple Farm in California they use 15 gallon pots to plant their fingerling potatoes. This year my neighbor is planting his tomato and pepper seedlings in a bag of potting mix, and will move them to his garden when the soil warms up in a few weeks. Look around, you can grow your own food almost anywhere!

February Checklist
  • This is your last chance to sow cool-season vegetables before warm weather arrives. Plant carrots, beets, bok choy, green onions, leaf lettuce, peas, radishes, spinach, turnips and potatoes.
  • Begin to plant warm season vegetables. Beginning mid-February plant transplants of tomatoes, peppers and artichokes. The average "last-frost" date is around the middle of March. Be prepared to cover new transplants when a freeze is expected.
  • After mid-February, sow seeds of sweet corn, melons, cucumbers, summer squash, and sunflowers.
  • Prune roses and fruit trees.
  • Plant bare-root fruit trees and roses by mid-month.
  • Fertilize roses and established citrus trees.
  • Improve soil by adding 4 to 6 inches of a combination of compost, mulch and well-aged manure. You could also add some organic amendments including, bone meal, blood meal, alfalfa meal, and rock phosphate.
  • Pull spring weeds while soil is moist and roots are shallow.
  • Harvest citrus and winter vegetables.
  • Start an herb garden. Plant parsley, cilantro, oregano, chive, marjoram, rosemary, tarragon, thyme and mints.

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