To Do

Periodically check for heaved plants in the garden. When the temperature rises to 60 degrees as it’s done this January many plants heave and their roots become exposed. Push them down and maybe cover with mulch so they’re less likely to thaw as often. Newly planted perennials tend to succumb to this and also root rot if left in water logged heavy clay for too long. A good reason to amend soil before planting. Winter wind can also dry those exposed roots and kill the plants.

Bulbs are peeking up and slow release fertilizer can be applied now which will feed them through their flowering stage and after to ensure nutrients are available for new growth cycle after flowering.

It’s a great time to force various types of bulbs. Actually I uncovered a flat of about 50 bulbs well on their way which I busied myself till dark trying to plant outside last Friday. Nature helped settle them in by dropping about 1″ of rain the next day. Wonder if they’ll bloom. Lessons learned tell me they’ll probably bloom this season. Nature takes kindly consideration of gardeners with little time for rules and only an occasional chance to get dirty.

If you have ornamental grasses, February is a good time to cut back before any new growth begins. I always hate to trim just yet ‘cause they’re still such a nice golden color maybe wait till March or save some cuttings in a big basket in the house. When you’ll ready cut to about 6 – 8 ” above the ground.

Prune back grapes and other vines. For specific information consult your cooperative extension service or get a resource guide from your library. Remember most garden centers and nursery personnel can give expert hands on advice.

Most shrubs and trees can be pruned while dormant. Do not cut maples as the syrup will run! Spring flowering woody shrubs and trees can be pruned judiciously sparing a few branches so you’ll still get spring flowers. Sometimes the right is when you have time.

Starting seeds can be a late February project for those gardeners that want to get a hop on spring and have the space. Potatoes can be planted about 1 month before the last freeze. Frost dates range from around March 26th to April 13th in this area we’re right on the cusp of zones 6 & 7. When trying to determine if the ground is ready to handle, please remember if it’s too wet you can actually do damage to your soil. If your soil stays very wet for long periods and clumps together into hard rocks it is telling you to amend or consider raised beds. Poor drainage can kill a lot of perennials and rot bulbs. In the vegetable garden do not till wet soggy soil, wait till it dries out a little.