FEBRUARY brings Valentine’s Day…boxes of chocolate…and lots of fun gardening jobs. For instance, winter-sowing continues outdoors no matter the weather. Then there are African violets to propagate, old seeds to test, and branches (including crabapple, pictured above) to force into glorious indoor bloom.
To keep your strength up while you read this list of chores, I suggest you try a slice of this Chocolate Layer Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting. It’s so…energizing.
Winter-Sowing: If you haven’t already sown your perennials outdoors in milk jugs or other containers, better get hopping. Some require a number of freezes and thaws, or “stratification,” in order to germinate. New to this nifty method of seed-sowing? Check out Winter-Sowing 101.
Seeds: Order these from catalogs now, especially if you have specific colors or varieties in mind. I learned the hard way that choice varieties often sell-out by March. My favorite seed-sellers.
Seed-Testing. Got left-over seeds from last year? Or the year before that? Make sure they are viable before you plant them. My easy seed-testing guide.
Flowering Branches: Need colorful bouquets for the house? Then do what I do, and clip the branches of spring-flowering trees and shrubs. Witch hazel, crabapple, and forsythia will all bloom in the warmth and light of your windows now. I force the branches this way.
Plan the Kitchen Garden. Before spring (and utter chaos!) arrives, determine which veggies you’ll plant, and where. I rotate the crops in my Kitchen Garden each year, in order to thwart certain pests and diseases.
Save Your Wood Ashes. If you use fireplaces to heat your home — I do — your wood ashes will provide a valuable soil amendment called Potash. I’m convinced that regular ash-applications are the reason my lilacs and peonies bloom so well each spring. More details about this natural soil-sweetener.
Screening. Before trees leaf out, take a good, long look at your property. Are there any eye-sores (like a neighbor’s trash can) you’d like to screen out? Now is the time to notice which evergreen trees or shrubs can frame your property, and transform it into the private sanctuary it ought to be. I used Thuja ‘Green Giant’ to make my neighbors disappear.
Houseplants need attention, too:
African Violets. Now is a great time to propagate this beautiful Saintpaulia ionantha. A single leaf potted in February will give you at least 8 clones of blooming-size by October. Details and pictures.
Amaryllis. Cut away the faded flowering stem if your new plant has bloomed. Continue to tend it in the window. Feeding goes on until late in August. Your older plant might be ready to emerge from the cool, dark cellar now; check the bulb for a green tip. And by sure to read my amaryllis growing-guide.
Bulbs. Bring the remaining hardy bulbs you are forcing out of cold storage, and give them a position in warmth and light. If you provide food and water after flowers fade, your bulbs can have a fine future in the garden outdoors.
Freesia. This is the big month for colorful, fragrant freesia. Water the bulbs daily, and be sure to visit my freesia forcing-guide.
Geraniums (Pelargoniums). Those you’ve grown from September cuttings are probably setting bud now. I pamper mine with Jack’s Classic Blossom Booster (10-30-20), at the rate of one 1/4 teaspoon per gallon of room-temperature water. How I prepare my geraniums for winter-bloom.
Petunias. Overwintered specimens, if placed in your sunniest window garden, will bloom with utter exuberance now. Provide food and water freely. How I propagate petunias for winter-bloom.
Are my monthly lists of chores helpful to you in some small way? Perhaps you can let me know by leaving a comment. As always, I love hearing from you.
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