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FEBRUARY: What to Do in the Garden

In the Edible Garden

  • Test leftover seeds for germination. Place ten seeds between moist paper toweling or cover with a thin layer of soil. Keep seeds warm and moist. If fewer than six seeds germinate, buy fresh seed.
  • Sow onion seeds in late February or March indoors. When they germinate, keep the seedlings in a sunny, south- facing window or a few inches below fluorescent lights. Transplant the seedlings outdoors as soon as the soil is dry enough to work.
  • Prune grape vines for shape and to promote new growth.
  • Plan vegetable/fruit garden with special care to rotating crops, especially tomatoes and other crops that are susceptible to leaf diseases.
  • Start seeds indoors. Warm-season crops can be started toward the end of the month, cool-season crops early in the month.
  • Work the soil as it dries. Structure can be damaged if you dig while the soil is too wet to work. Work in compost or other organic matter to enrich the soil.
  • Direct sow radish and lettuce seeds late in the month.

In the Ornamental Garden

  • Prune flowering shrubs that bloom after June 15th now. Shrubs that flower before June 15th should be pruned right after flowering.
  • It is not harmful to prune now those trees like maple, birch or dogwood that have a lot of sap. But if you prune them in mid-summer or late fall, you will avoid the sap bleeding.
  • Didn’t get your bulbs planted last fall? Get them in the ground as soon as the soil thaws. Normally a chilling period of 10-13 weeks with temperatures below 40 degrees F. is needed to initiate flowering. Mulch after planting to prevent heaving. The bulbs will probably not bloom in the spring, but they may bloom in the summer, or they may wait until next spring to bloom.
  • Apply horticultural oil sprays to trees and shrubs before bud break to control scale insects. Apply when temperatures are expected to stay above freezing for 24 hours. · Rake leaves and debris from the lawn. Consider re-seeding or over-seeding areas that were damaged during the winter.
  • If you use chemical controls, spray creeping Charlie as early as possible and schedule a follow-up application based on the herbicide’s label directions. Do not let the weed get to the flowering stage, which will help it spread in your lawn.

In the Indoor Garden

  • Prune your Christmas cactus after blooming. This will encourage branching. Pinch off a few sections of each stem with your fingers. Root these sections in moist vermiculite or potting soil for new plants. In summer, move outdoors to a shady or semi-shady location.
  • Watch for carpenter ants in your kitchen or bathroom. Black carpenter ants can vary in size from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length. They do not eat wood, but they will scrape out tunnels leaving telltale sawdust behind. They are attracted to wood softened by moisture. They will also nest in trees. Indoors, the nest must be located for effective control.
  • Begin fertilizing plants and increasing watering as new growth shows.
  • Look for insect damage and destroy affected plants.
  • Repot plants that will need additional room to grow during the upcoming season. Cacti and succulents will flower more readily if slightly pot-bound.



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We moved into a house with a lovely azalea that didn’t bloom. We thought it might have been over-pruned. Last fall we did not prune it and now it still hasn’t bloomed. I was hoping to transplant it this year, but it looks rather sickly. Shall we prune it again and give it another year? Can I still transplant it?

I keep seeing photos of interesting plants I’d like to grow, but they’re labeled zone 6 and I’m in zone 5. What can I do to successfully overwinter these marginal plants? I’d like to try them, but I don’t want to waste my money.

I start ‘Dragon Wing’ begonia from seed under grow lights. What other begonias can I use to cross-pollinate with the ‘Dragon Wing’ so I can collect my own seeds?

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