Yes, gardening time is here and I have no excuse to be inside. I can’t wait to get some seeds planted in the greenhouse. I have new seeds to try this year but its best to wait until the end of February. Before I get carried away there are so many chores to get done in the garden. My garden is a mess of brown dead decay that needs a good cleaning up so the spring bulbs can be seen.
February means we should be pruning Buddleia and hydrangea in the garden. I always leave the hydrangea blooms on the plant over the winter. That way I can prune the flower heads down to the new buds and I am done. This mophead hydrangea flowers on new wood so I am safe to remove old wood that bloomed last summer. If your plant has old thick woody stems that are not productive, cut the thickest branches out at the base leaving a nice framework. Generally its recommended to remove a third of the old wood on mature plants.
The Buddleia or butterfly bush is a vigorous grower and I will be cutting it back to about four feet high. Use a good sharp pair of secateurs to get a good cut. For branches larger than your thumb you will need some loppers. Don’t be too hasty about cleaning up the little twigs that fall. I find the birds like to use them for nesting material. Speaking of sharp tools, now is the time to sharpen the lawn mower blade while the repair shops are quiet. It won’t be long before the lawn starts to grow like crazy once again.
As the weather continues to warm up think about repairing any winter damage to shrubs. As I walked the garden today I noticed my mature rosemary shrub has browning on the leaves. I won’t prune the damaged areas off yet. It’s best to wait until any chance of frost is behind us. Unfortunately we had a very wet fall followed by snow and below normal temperatures. I may have to trim a few damaged branches off this shrub. My rosemary shrub planted closer to the home in a more protected area seems to be fine. So far this seems to be the only casualty to date. It’s always best to wait a bit before taking out what looks like a dead plant. Often plants can regenerate from the root so be patient.
If you have rhubarb in the garden it will love some aged manure right now. Spread the manure around the base of the plant as it will be crowning this month. Rhubarb is a perennial crop so it needs feeding each year to replenish lost nutrients in the soil.
Prune fruit trees and blueberries this month. I am always a light pruner when it comes to blueberries but I still have good harvests. I am growing a blueberry called ‘Duke’ and can’t believe how prolific it is. I live in an area filled with blueberry farms. They love our acidic soil. Remember to prune out dead, diseased and damaged wood on your plants first.
Prepare vegetable garden soil so its ready for planting in March. Turn under any cover crops before they get too large and go to seed. I placed shredded leaves on the garden and will be adding some steer manure and a fresh layer of soil. At planting time in March I will add some organic fertilizer.
Plant seed flats of cool season crops to get a head start on the season. Plants like pac choi, radishes and spinach can be started now undercover or in a greenhouse. Start peas outside in mid February. Hardy vegetable plants like claytonia, broad beans and mustard can be direct sown this month.
After all that work treat yourself to a few Primula from the garden center. You deserved it!