Monthly Garden Calendar for Pacific Coast North United States

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Amy Stewart

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FEBRUARY

When it comes to the garden, I'm a Luddite. I resent the intrusion of technology into a sphere of my life that is otherwise so uncluttered, so slow-paced, and so low-tech. Nothing in my garden moves at the speed of light except for light itself, and I'd like to keep it that way. I've never put a timer on my drip system; I'd rather just go outside and turn on the faucet when the ground looks dry. I've never bought a garden reference book on CD-ROM because you can't read them in the bathtub.

That's probably why I am a latecomer to the world of blogs (short for "web logs"), the online diaries that allow anyone with access to a computer to sound off about politics, popular culture, or what's growing in their garden. I've been getting to know the fabulous women at "You Grow Girl", chatting with Erica, who rails against oxalis from Houston Garden Spot, and marveling at the photographs posted at "O is for Orchids.

Spraying Season. Now is the time to spray roses and fruit trees with dormant oil to kill those soft-bodied insects like scale that love to overwinter.

Frost Frenzy. If your garden has experienced any frost damage (look for blackened leaves and branches), leave them alone until spring. You're better off pruning away frost damage after new spring growth has begun.

Seed Starting. In warm-weather areas, it's time to start seeds indoors for summer crops like tomatoes and peppers. Make sure they have a strong light source and consider using a heating mat to keep soil at a consistently warm temperature. If you live in a cool coastal area, peruse the seed catalogs but wait until next month to get them started.

Winter Flower Power. In frost-free areas, set out pansies, primrose, and Icelandic poppies to brighten up grey days.

Preparing Plants for Bloom. Bring branches of cherry, forsythia, quince or star magnolia indoors and force them into bloom by smashing the ends with a hammer and putting them in a deep vase.

Bulb Tip. Feed spring bulbs like tulips and daffodils as they start to emerge. Your nursery will have a good stock of bulb food, or bone meal will do the trick.

Fill In Bald Spots. Sow grass seed in bare patches in the lawn.

Harvest Time. Harvest kale, early spring lettuce, and herbs like parsley, chives, and fennel. If you cellared any potatoes, now is the time for potato-leek soup with a little kale and chopped herbs stirred in at the last minute. Delicious and satisfying!

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