Monthly Garden Calendar for Midwest United States

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Paul Rodman

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FEBRUARY

"A February spring is not worth a pin"—Sheryl London, author

Pruning February Foliage. February is the ideal time to prune fruit and ornamental trees, since the lack of foliage makes the structure much more visible. Make sure your pruners, loppers and saws are sharp to obtain nice clean cuts.

Inspect Your Garden Tools. Before spring planting, sharpen hoes and spades with a file. Check pruners and loppers for chipped or nicked blades. Use a whetstone to sharpen these. Inspect wooden handles for rough spots and splinters. Lightly sand the damaged areas and apply a light coat of linseed oil.

The Chill of Winter. Inspect flowerbeds for frost heaving. Place the plants back into the ground. Add mulch when the ground refreezes.

Inspect Your Cold Frame For Damage. Replace any broken glass or framing. Cold season crops such as cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli can be started in the cold frame this month. Be sure to crack it open on warm, sunny days.

What's Up Doc? Watch young trees and shrubs for rabbit (or rodent) damage. Make sure tree wraps and guards are high enough to protect against animals standing on top of snow.

Happy Houseplants. Nurture acid-loving houseplants such as gardenias or citrus; water once a month with a solution of 1-teaspoon vinegar in a quart of water. As the days get longer resume fertilizing your houseplants. Begin using a 1/2 strength mixture and increase bi-weekly until you reach full strength.

Dry Evergreens? To prevent your broad-leaved evergreens and boxwoods from drying out, take advantage of a mild day (above 40 degrees F) to reapply an anti-desiccant spray.

Heard It Through the Grapevine. Prune your grape vines. Grapes bear fruit on one-year-old canes. Old canes will not bear again and need to be pruned out.

Trim Branches Back. Cut some forsythia or pussy willow branches to bring indoors for forcing. Soak them in a tepid bath for one to two hours and place in a vase for colorful blooms.

Think Before You Stroll. You may get the urge on a nice sunny day to walk around on your lawn, or in your garden to check things out, but you may actually cause harm by compacting the soil. Wait until the ground dries out to do a through inspection

Order Up. Get your seed orders in while supplies are plentiful. If you have room, order enough seeds to plant an extra row or two; a local soup kitchen or charity will be thankful for the fruits of your labor.

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