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- Keep an eye on the weather forecasts. Early February often brings sub-freezing temperatures with wind chills that can damage unprotected plants. Make sure roses and other cold-sensitive shrubs get a good watering before the winds and deep cold hit.
- Mid-month, slug hunting! Pull mulch partially away from emerging bulbs and perennials to find those hidden slugs.
- Cool season weeds like chickweed (
Stellaria media), brookline (
Veronica beccabunga) will take over your landscape, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Chickweed is an indicator of good soil and its fine roots don't compete with established perennials and neither will brookline. They can be controlled by regular hand pulling, but then, maybe where they're growing is an indication where you need more mulch or Nature really wants some ground cover there. Take your time and choose your battlefields. Make your vegetable plot, fruit trees and "display" flowerbeds your top priority. On erosion-prone slopes, consider leaving the plant cover (except for the noxious invasives, of course).
- Wild garlic and onions are a special weeding challenge. Just keep after them. Root out Japanese honeysuckle (
Lonicera japonica) and other weedy vines while many garden plants are still leafless. English ivy (
Hedera helix) should not be allowed to climb trees as it can escape and take over natural areas - not to mention seriously damaging the tree. Learn about invasive exotic plants, and eliminate them from your landscape. For Oregon:
Noxious Weed Control Identifier; Washington:
Washington State Noxious Weed Lists and Monitor List
Year-Round Kitchen Garden:
- If you haven't done so, start broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower indoors under lights. Use a high quality sterile soil and if you use 2" pots, and keep them growing on the cool side, they should be ready to go out under a cloche about April 1, weather permitting. Minimize transplant shock by using peat or newspaper pots - they go into the ground with the plant.
- Rhubarb, horseradish, and asparagus crowns can be planted in February as soon as the soil is dry enough to work. They need room and remember to mark their locations so they won't be bothered by later garden work.
- Wait until early March to start tomatoes, eggplants and peppers - these are very temperature sensitive plants and starting them too early won't speed up your harvest.
- Cool weather greens such as mache, spinach, leaf lettuce, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, turnips and carrots can be planted now, soil conditions permitting. Snow and sugar snap peas can be started early in the month and onion sets and onion starts can go into the ground as well. Select short day or medium day/day neutral onion varieties. Closer to March, you can start thinking about planting your potatoes.
Woody and Ornamental:
- Fertilize trees, shrubs and evergreens in mid to late February. Feed evergreens like junipers, conifers, broadleaf evergreens, rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias a rhododendron fertilizer. For roses, fruit trees and other deciduous trees and shrubs, use a rose or all-purpose garden fertilizer.
- Bare-root roses and fruit trees can be planted on mild days.
- Now is the time for the last application of dormant spray. See
Horticultural Spray and other recipes from
Master Gardener Girl's Gardening Blog. Don't use the old-fashioned lime sulfur spray on evergreens as it apt to burn evergreen leaves and needles. Only spray when the wind is not blowing and temperatures are above freezing.
- Plant trees and shrubs, especially evergreens, throughout this month.
- It's probably better to wait for most pruning, although removing deadwood is a good idea. Don't prune the spring bloomers like azalea and forsythia as you will be trimming off the new blooms.
Soil and Maintenance:
- If you can, turn your compost. And make sure your worm bin doesn't get over dry or too cold.
- February is a good time for a soil test, which can help you determine how much manure or organic fertilizer to apply, and whether you need adjust your soil Ph (maritime northwest soils tend to be on the acid side - good for blueberries and rhodies, but not so good for most vegetables. See
Soil and Plant Laboratory Serving the Northwest from Bellevue WA.
- If you have a fescue lawn (a cool-season grass which is green now), you should fertilize at half the recommended rate for fall. If you are going to fertilize, now is the time and do not fertilize after mid-March. If weeds are an ongoing issue, consider an organic preemergent like corn gluten (most versions are also 10-1-0 fertilizers as well). See
Gardens Alive WOW!® Supreme, or your local garden center - many now carry organic products.
- Warm season grasses (like Bermuda grass) are brown now and should be fertilized in spring (during its growing season).
- Standing puddles in your lawn indicates drainage issues. These need to be corrected or the lawn replaced with ground covers better adapted to wet areas.
Critters Good and Otherwise
- Keep your bird feeders topped off and enjoy the show as the birds drop by. Make sure you've got some suet available; it's a great energy source for birds which they can use this time of year.
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