February is shrug the shoulders month. The grass gives off an unhealthy pallor, bird songs sound desperate, and winter clings on, decorating the land with inconvenient frostings.
Since February could care less, the gardener should also ignore the month whose only claim to fame is Leap Year. This is a great time to venture outside and commence the garden cleaning for the bounty to come. It’s also an advantageous moment for seed catalog memorization,as well as bullying your way to the front of the seed stands for the pick of the litter. In fact, there are numerous projects to take on, and before you know it, Leap Year has left for another four year vacation.
Here are some more tips on how to make it through the last full month of winter:
Classes and Workshops:
Right now is a great time to sign up for some gardening classes in your area before they fill up. In Asheville, some of the best growing professionals in the world share their knowledge over the weekend at the Organic Grower’s School on the UNCA campus, March 3-4. Classes range from mushroom cultivation to building a bamboo greenhouse. More info and registration can be found at: http://www.organicgrowersschool.org/
Be a prude about pruning: Grab the pruning shears and lop off those unwanted growths on fruit trees, blueberries, grapes, and roses. Numerous websites offer pruning advice. NC State has a great site on pruning fruit trees. If y0u want some hands-on instruction, Barkslip’s Fruit School in Asheville will be offering pruning classes in March. Click here for more info.
Insect Eradication, Yes, Insect Eradication
Hide and seek is one of the insect’s favorite pastimes in the Winter. Frost is not enough. Right now is a perfect time for spraying a dormant horticultural oil on beds, fruit trees, and other decorative plants.
Indoors is another fun place for bad news bugs, like spider mites, to congregate. Mites love dry areas and they enjoy partying on defenseless house plants. Be vigilant with preventative sprays like Neem Oil and Azamax. A good home remedy (according to the Farmer’s Almanac) is a solution of 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup buttermilk, and a gallon of cool water, applied in a mist.
Bad Breath for Spring
Now is a great time to start onion seeds for transplanting in the early spring. Try to do seeds instead of sets because seeds have longer lasting vitality.
Power of Parsley and Other Windowsill Favorites
Go ahead and start some favorite culinary herbs (basil, dill, parsley) for future containers in a south facing windowsill. Nothing is better than clipping herbs inside and adding to a favorite dish. For outside, start seeds for frost tough parsley. Forgo the favorite parsley planted last year even if it’s still alive from winter. Why? Because it will soon go to seed since it’s a biennial.
Enable the Inner Scientist
Take out your seeds from last year and place ten of each kind between two wet paper towels. See how many germinate to determine how many leftover seeds to sow. If none come up, head to (or internet order from) the friendly seed store. Some of the best regional companies are Sow True Seed and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.