Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hope (for Spring) Springs Eternal!

Since we're still in the throes of winter, most of the gardening I've been doing lately is of the armchair variety. But February is when the garden really starts to call out to me, both because it always seems to suddenly look like a victim of nuclear apocalypse and because I've been inside looking at seed catalogs for MONTHS now and, jeez, LET'S GO ALREADY!

There are actually a few things you should be doing this month if you are a Pacific Northwest gardener. First and foremost is the annual pruning of the roses, which is traditionally done on or after President's Day. Pruning encourages new growth and blooms, and also improves air circulation (which is theoretically good for black spot prevention -- fight the good fight, yo) and getting rid of the dead stuff. What I've read is that you should prune hybrid teas heavily, but go easy on English roses and shrubs, taking off only a third to half of the branches.

For detailed instructions on how to prune your roses, check this fantastic site out:

Or, be dumb like me and just make it up as you go along. Hey, whatever works. The nice thing about our roses (none of which I can identify for you other than to say that one is light pink with small flowers and the other two have big blooms and are yellow and dark pink, respectively), is that they seem to thrive as long as they are being completely neglected. The more I attempt to do right by them, the more they tend to thumb their nose at me and tell me to mind my own damn business.

Would that the other plants in my garden had that attitude. Stupid lettuce.

February is also usually the month I get serious about yard clean-up again. The ferns are all brown and grody looking, so I finally get out behind the fence to clean them up. There are STILL LEAVES that need raking (Lord, have mercy!), and this is a good time to start trying to expose your grass to some more light and air. Especially that patch that we just left a pile of leaves sitting on all winter long, which is now either A) dead or B) mushrooms. I'm curious to see which.

If you have perennial grasses, start grooming those babies up by trimming old seeds and stalks. And if you usually fertilize with lime on your garden beds before planting season, now's not a bad time for that either, apparently. I never do that. Janet, should I be doing that?

All in all, February is a month where hope for spring begins to spring eternal. It's close! So close! Hang in there a few more weeks, and then let the dirt play begin!

Know of anything else we gardeners should be doing in February up here in the deceptively-sunny-yet-still-utterly-freezing Northwest? Edumacate us in the comments!


Daphne said...

Well I'm a NorthEast gardener. February is the time we sip our hot tea and stare out into the garden hoping the snow will melt. We read out seed catalogs for the umpteenth time and find more seeds that we just have to have, but try to restrain ourselves because we already have enough to plant twice as much garden as we actually have. We look at our rose bush and think, "I'll wait until spring and cut out all the dead parts then. It is too cold to go outside."

Janet said...

Lime? Yeah, I should probably do that, but I used all mine getting rid of the dead bodies. Oh, wait... that's quicklime. I always get those mixed up.

I still need to get my soil tested so I know whether or not I should lime anything. That's something people can do this time of year. This is also a good time to fertilize the asparagus beds and, believe it or not, start weeding. The early spring weeds are already sneaking in. You can also plant peas and radishes outside and start a bunch of seeds indoors. And, you can get after the blackberries, as they're easier to handle before the flush of spring growth.

Meg said...

You can plant peas right now? Really? Yay! I will put some in this weekend, in that case!

Janet said...

I believe the rule of thumb in this area is, Peas in by President's Day. So yeah, go ahead and plant 'em!