Friday, January 23, 2009

What To Do In Your Garden in February

February is a tough time for gardeners in Southern California. It’s the dead of winter, with visions of spring just around the corner. We can’t wait for the cold weather to be over so we can plant, plant, plant! If a nice, sunny day comes along, we go nuts and head for the nursery to find and plant whatever we can, forgetting that it’s still the dead of winter. But alas…even though planting is not the greatest idea for flowers and ornamentals, it’s a great time to plant veggies, herbs, bare root roses and some fruit trees.

It’s also a great time to pay a little attention to some garden “housekeeping”. When was the last time you cleaned your garden tools? Or washed your dirty gardening gloves? Have you swept out your gardening shed in the last year or so? February is a perfect time in Southern California to accomplish these things. While you never know from one day to the next what the weather will be like in February, there is plenty to do to get your garden ready for that glorious spring day when your bulbs begin to flower and ornamentals can start going in the ground.

Mulching is a big one. Mulching now will save you a lot of weeding come spring. In Southern Cal, we’ve had a few days of rain and in November, we actually had some pretty decent rain. So in my garden, and most likely in many gardens around So Cal, weeds are popping up like…well…weeds! The best time to pull weeds is when the ground is nice and soft so you get the roots. If you’ve had a nice rain, head out the next day and pull some of those nasty weeds. Once you’ve done that, mulching is the next most important thing to do. Not sure how to mulch? Easy! All you do is clear all the weeds away and rake up all around to get any dead leaves, etc. Spread some pre-emergent weed control (available from The Happy Gardener-see below) all around the beds, following the manufacturer’s instructions. This will help to stop any weeds from growing before they can get started. Top that with single sheets of newspaper, being careful to overlap at the seams so no dirt is showing through. This will help to keep water and air from getting to the ground which would nourish any weeds that might be ready to pop up (and you don’t want that!). Mist the newspaper with a little water, but do not soak. Then put your mulch down…any kind will do; pine needles, bark nuggets, rocks, etc. Make it thick…2 – 3 “ is a good amount. Make sure to mulch around your existing plants and leave a little room around the plant free from mulch. This makes an excellent “bowl” for the water you give your plant.

So if you’re itching to get out in the garden and “play”, here’s your list for Feb:

Clean your garden tools
Clean your garden shed
Buy new containers if needed
Clean old containers
Pull weeds

And finally….don’t forget our fine feathered friends. Keep putting bird food out to keep em coming back!

Organic pre-emergent weed control is available from The Happy Gardener, Please email me if you’d like further information!

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

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