February’s List for the Garden

Submitted by Faye Mahaffey

OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer

Rain, Snow, Ice, and Wind! Welcome to winter in Ohio! The last snowfall was so light and fluffy that moving the 4 inches of new snow could have been done with the leaf blower!

Saturday was Groundhog’s Day and the prediction is for an early spring! Groundhog Day comes from our agricultural past and marks the halfway point to the Spring Equinox. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac website, Groundhog Day always falls on February 2. Today, most people know about the legend of the groundhog: If he sees its shadow on this day, there will be more wintry weather; if it doesn’t, then Spring is right around the corner! How often has the groundhog really predicted the coming of Spring? According to researchers, the groundhog has accurately predicted the coming of Spring only 39% of the time.

If an early Spring is right around the corner, I had better finalize my raised bed plans, make my materials list, and order seeds!

It’s time to review our checklist of gardening tasks for February which include:

Whole Garden:

  • There’s still time to look through catalogs and place orders.
  • Thoroughly clean any flats or pots for seedlings.
  • Set aside a potting area for seed starting and gather the necessary equipment.
  • Sow those seeds that will need 10 to 12 weeks indoors before they can be transplanted outside.
  • Make sure your bluebird boxes are clean.
  • Continue looking for plant damage in your landscape.
  • Test seeds left over from last year for viability.

Trees and Shrubs:

  • Prune off broken twigs and branches on shrubs.
  • Brush off excess snow to avoid breakage.
  • Force branches of spring-blooming shrubs and trees once buds have begun to swell (pussy willow, forsythia, apple, cherry).

Fruits and Vegetables:

  • Plan your vegetable seed-sowing strategy.
  • Begin sowing leek seeds indoors.
  • Prune fall-bearing raspberries in late February.

Well-known gardening author Margaret Roach (awaytogarden.com) writes in her February garden chores that we must not rush to start our seeds, but instead spend our time mapping out the vegetable garden. Make a list of what you want to grow and how much of each plant you want to grow.

Roach’s gardening mantra this year is “Be thoughtful, keep weeding” with the “thoughtful” part standing for “thoughtful organic gardening” as in thinking carefully before any action is taken. Many gardeners are guilty of spraying first before they have identified the problem or pest.

Roach also asks if polka-dots are dominating your garden – lots of “onesies” (a single plant of each kind, instead of an impactful group or drift of each variety). Last year she forced herself to divide plants and repeat sweeps elsewhere – rather than buy so many new “one-ofs”. She suggests making a list of the large clumps of perennials in your gardens and then dividing them. I guess this is the year I finally divide my daylilies.

Ready to think about your flower and vegetable gardens and the health of your soil?  Plan to attend the gardening seminar on Thursday, February 21 at the Mt. Orab campus of Southern State Community College from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in Room 208. James Morris, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator and Community Development Educator for Brown County OSU Extension, will talk about soils as well as soil testing. Remember that all seminars are free and open to the public. Please remember that in case of wintry weather, you should check SSCC’s website, www.sscc.edu, or call 937-444-7722, for any campus closures. If the campus is closed, the seminar will be canceled and rescheduled.

Are you ready to dig in the dirt? It won’t be long now!


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