Tuesday, 13 February 2018

February Ramblings - Garden and Greenhouse

*This post was first published in February of 2016. 

I am so excited! It's the month of February already and spring is oh so close!

However, the weather lately has been less than spectacular for us gardeners, with January being very, very wet! Hoping for drier days this month!  

So then, what all is going on for us gardeners in February? A wee bit more than last month, but still not a whole bunch. If you did nothing gardening related this month, I bet no one would even notice ; )

First of all... in the yard and garden beds. What to do out there? 

- Prune your fruit trees and spray with dormant oil/lime sulpher to kill any over-wintering pests or fungal issues. Only spray if you had pests or fungal probs like scab, etc.. last year. Be sure to prune on a warm and sunny day (no wet weather) to avoid spreading or starting fungal/disease problems.

- While you are it, prune and spray your roses, too. This will help to reduce black spot in summer!

- Deadhead your pansies and violas, pinching them back if they are leggy. Spring bulbs are just beginning to poke their heads through the ground, so pinching back your pansies now will have them blooming at the same time as those bulbs.

- Want to get an early start on the season? Cover any garden beds that you want to plant up with plastic or landscape fabric to warm the soil. Building new raised beds or starting a lasagna bed? This is the time to do it! Get ready now so that when spring rolls around, you are good to go! 

- Did you sow peas or sweet peas in fall last year? If so, when they start to come up, cover with frost blankets or tree branches, etc.. to protect the tender, fresh, new, green growth from the birds and rabbits. They really, really enjoy the taste of those tasty new seedlings, trust me ;)

Hairy Bittercress seedlings popping up everywhere in my garlic bed. 

Jumping Jesus aka Hairy Bittercress. Ugh!

- Weed your pathways and beds now before the weeds get out of hand, especially that awful seed snapping one, the Hairy Bittercress! This stuff is dreadful and once you have it, you gotta stay on top of it or it soon takes over everything. How? It has exploding seeds! The plant looks harmless enough, small little rounded leaves, a slender stalk of teeny tiny little white flowers... and then POP! The seeds literally snap off the plant, scattering hundreds of weed seeds everywhere.

- Tuck a few lovely sprouting spring bulbs into your winter planters. I usually plant pot and all in to the planter, so is easy to switch them out as often as I like.

What to do indoors...  

- Seed inventory. Check out what seeds you have, make a list of what you need and want. Take that list with you when you shop! Is very easy to get carried away at the Seedy Saturdays ; )

- Put in any of your seed and bulb orders on line. Time to think dahlias, lilies, gladioli, canna and calla lilies, pineapples lilies, and more...

 Journal entry by catherinestudio.blogspot.com
How I wish that I could paint! 

- While out running errands last week, I saw the most gorgeous journals! Absolutely stunning and very inspirational. So nice that I really, really wanted to pick one up... despite that fact that I already have a journal on the go for the year... nearly half full ; )

- I personally have been keeping a garden journal for many years, a brand new book each year, with my thoughts and plans for both gardens and greenhouse. My drawings, however, are not nearly as pretty as the painting above... though this does inspire me to add more drawings, more colour and even some texture... it also makes me wish that I were artsier! 

- Now is a terrific time to pick up a new journal for the gardening season ahead. Jot down all your great ideas, recipes, favourite tomatoes to check out this year, new veggies to trial ... More thoughts on journaling in the next blog post.  

The big, funny looking plant in front is an over-wintered artichoke! 

What to do in the greenhouse...

Clean up the greenhouse
- Dump last year's flower pots into the compost, spray surfaces with a 10% bleach solution to kill bacteria and fungal spores, wash and sterilise pots and seed trays to get ready for the season ahead, clean up your tools, oil or replace parts, as needed.

- Start fertilising your over-wintered plants in the greenhouse and indoor plants, as well.

To everything there is a season! Turn, turn, turn.
- Please, please do not start your seeds too early. Lanky and tall plants become bug magnets, they draw the pests like crazy. They will also not produce as well, and may well snap from the weight of the fruits. You want stocky, sturdy plants, dark green in colour.

- Even if you plan to grow them in the greenhouse all summer, rather than out in the garden, our days are simply not long enough or warm enough yet, so it will cost you extra in both lighting and heating to keep them from being lanky. Hardly worth it to spend that extra money for a few weeks lead time.
 Take cuttings ...
Remove all but the top couple of leaves and plant deep into the pot, right up to those top leaves. 
- Take cuttings of pelargoniums, fuchsias, rosemary, bay, etc..

Artichokes can be started from seed now
They often come back year after year, with no additional care required!

So ...  What seeds do you start indoors this month?

If you are not sure whether you should be starting your seeds yet, check the back of the package. If it says to start the seeds 8 to 12 weeks before the last frost date, go for it! Anything less, you need to wait a few more weeks yet.  If it says 8 weeks, wait till the end of the month to start.

- lettuce, greens, mustards
- Oriental greens like Boy Choi
- peas
- alliums - leeks and onions
- artichokes

- most all of the hardy, perennial ones ... oregano, parsley, mint, thyme, marjoram, sage.
- start rosemary and tarragon from cuttings
- sweet peas
- snapdragons
- pansies and violas
- petunias
- many, many more

In actuality, the flowers that you can start now, from seed, are much too numerous to mention. Check the back of your packages for start dates. If it says to start them 8 to 12 weeks before the last frost date, you are good to go.

In the garden
- broad/fava beans (need no cover, pop them in the ground now)
- radishes, spinach, winter lettuces, Oriental greens (start under cover, either low frames or row covers)

Happy Gardening!

Moving Thyme

Sadly, the Nitty Gritty Potager blog is no more... but the good news is that I can now be found at my new blog called the Olde Thyme F...