February in the Garden

It’s February, and that funny little groundhog is out doing his rounds again. While there may be weeks of winter yet, it is time to start planning for your garden. If you’re a long time gardener, I’m sure that your fingers are itching to get out there already! If you’re new to this gardening thing, what do you need to do to prepare for a new year in the garden?

  • Get some seeds. Start looking at seed catalogues if you haven’t done this already, and plan what you’re going to plant this year. Take a hard look at what your family will really eat. Look for open pollinated and heirloom seeds so that you can save the seeds in the fall.
  • Get mulching. Technically, the best time to mulch is in the fall, but if you want to build some soil and you are not planning to use your garden for a while, placing layers of cardboard or newspaper, straw, and manure, and you’ll have a nicely-composting heap of mulch by later spring. Or perhaps it’s time to bury some rotting hardwood in the garden for a lovely hugelkultur bed?
  • Think about growing early season greens. This really depends on where you are, but in more temperate or more southerly locations you can certainly grow fava beans, mizuna, radishes, and winter-hardy lettuces in the early spring.
  • Get going on garden renovations. Once planting season hits, you may not have time for serious garden renos.
  • Prune. Winter pruning allows you to do larger-scale tree and shrub renovations. Once it’s nesting season, you’ll need to hold off on the pruning for a while, so work on it while the birds and plants are still relatively dormant.
  • Know your frost dates. If you’re itching to plant right away, take a look at the last frost dates for your region. Although this is actually a best guess and not necessarily reflective of this year’s reality, this will help you understand when you should do things like start seeds indoors or move plants outdoors. Just keep in mind: this is a general guideline, not a hard and fast rule, as Nature has her own ideas!

What are your February gardening plans?

Image Credit: Gilles Gonthier / CC by 2.0