February often gives me the winter blahs. When that happens, gardening tasks help perk me up. Consider these various February gardening activities to reduce the winter blues.
- Repair and paint lawn and garden tools, window boxes, lawn furniture, tools and other items in preparation for outdoor gardening and recreational use.
- Continue planning for the summer landscape of your dreams.
- Test the viability of last year's left-over seeds and discard those with low germination percentage.
- The indoor seed-starting season traditionally begins on Valentine's Day, February 14 and runs to St. Patrick's Day, March 17.
HOME (Indoor plants and activities)
- Check stored produce and flower bulbs for rot, shriveling or excess moisture. Discard damaged material.
- Force branches of forsythia and pussy willow to flower indoors by placing them in water.
- Check houseplants soil for dryness before watering. Move to brighter windows, if needed.
LANDSCAPE (Lawns, trees, shrubs, and flowers)
- Once the ground has thawed enough, transplant clumps of ornamental grasses to give them an early start on the new season's growth.
- Check mulches, rodent shields, salt/wind screens and other winter plant protection to make sure they are still in place. Don't remove mulch from perennials too early.
- Prune landscape plants, except early spring bloomers, which should be pruned after flowers fade. Remove dead, dying, or unsightly plant parts, sprouts growing at or near the base of a tree trunk and crossed tree branches. Birches, maples, dogwoods and other heavy sap bleeders can be pruned in early summer to avoid the sap flow, although bleeding is not harmful to the tree.
GARDEN (Vegetables, fruits, and herbs)
- This year plan to grow at least one new vegetable that you've never grown before. If space is limited, consider new dwarf varieties.
- Fertilize fruit trees as soon as possible after the ground thaws but before blossom time.
- Prune fruit trees and grapes in late February or early March after the worst of the winter cold is passed but before spring growth begins.
- Get your cold frame ready and plant a row of leaf lettuce for some early garden fresh greens.
View all of my garden tips by the month on my Garden Calendar. It is available for as a free pdf-format download at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/fmpt. While there check out links to my ILRiverHort Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest pages, and our many other gardening sites.