Well, January has come and gone, and those days warm enough for outdoor winter gardening tasks were few and far between. February will not only bring its fair share of cold, damp, and just plain old miserable days but also that old feeling of anxiety, knowing I can no longer put off those gardening projects waiting on that perfect day. As my list of tasks continues to grow, I await those occasional sunshine days that February will certainly bring, well aware that planting season is not far away. So here’s a list of my February tasks:
- Complete seed inventory, run a germination test on seeds stored from previous years to see if they still sprout.A little online research located numerous sites, including various seed companies that offer information on home seed germination testing. One such site, Oregon State University offered basic and simple instructions for “ How to test your stored seed for germination”. http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/how-test-your-stored-seed-germination-0
- Handle seed packets carefully. Don’t try simply rubbing the packet to determine a “feel” count can break the protective seed coating, thus reducing germination.
- Review All America Selections web site for new 2015 vegetable winners for possible planting candidates. http://all-americaselections.org/winners
- Complete seed catalog orders now before specific desirable varieties sell out and order early in the month to take advantage of promotional offers of free seeds or discounts for early orders.
- Clean and inventory seed flats; soaking flats in a bleach solution ratio of 10 parts water to 1 part bleach solution will kill disease-causing microorganisms.
- Begin collecting containers that can be used for transplants, such as styrofoam cups, yogurt and sour cream containers.
- Clean crusty clay pots with a vinegar/bleach solution. To make the solution: add 1 cup each of white vinegar and household bleach to a gallon of warm water and soak the pots. For heavily crusted pots, scrub with a steel wool pad after soaking for 12 hours.
- Inspect garden tools such as garden sprayers, and tillers. It may be hard to locate some needed parts; however, by starting know, I’ll have them before the start of the gardening season.
- Sow seeds indoors for plants that can be transplanted in mid to late March: those include onion, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and cabbage.
- Monitor the soil temperature in the raised bed, and be prepared to plant peas once the temperature reaches 50-60º F.
- For an interesting ornamental plant and culinary addition, buy a plump unshriveled ginger root at the grocery store and plant it in a light sandy soil just under the surface in a 6”-8” pot. Place in a warm sunny window and keep it damp until shoots appear. Water more frequently and fertilize monthly with a high phosphorus fertilizer. Harvest in about eight months, saving a piece to replant. http://www.tropicalpermaculture.com/growing-ginger.html
- Continue pruning apple tress though February to help control diseases and insects, remove all diseased wood from the site as trash or destroy it by burning. Also, remember pruning tools used to cut diseased wood should be disinfected with alcohol or a 10:1 (10 parts water to 1 part bleach) disinfecting solution before using again. For additional information, see Virginia Tech Publication 422-023. http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/422/422-023/422-023.html