Monthly Garden Calendar for Pacific Northwest United States

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Debbie Leung

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FEBRUARY

People who don't garden think it's a joke—planting bare root plants and trees—because they look like dead sticks. What's more, the more "dead" they look, the better they'll grow. That is because they are being sold when dormant, a time when they naturally "sleep" through the winter. Bare root plants that have green shoots or growing points are breaking out of dormancy early and may succumb to harsh weather still ahead. Available this month, bare root fruit trees, roses, and cane berries are less expensive than those in pots. There are often more varieties to select from in nurseries or through mail order, and they will grow well if purchased from reputable nurseries. Plant your purchases right away. If a planting spot is not ready for the permanent resident, just stick it in the ground somewhere, keep it watered if nature doesn't, and transplant when the spot is ready.

Order Up! Order seeds, plants, and supplies from catalogs. To minimize pest and disease problems, find varieties that are best suited to your garden's sun (or shade), soil, and water conditions. Think about color and food for the entire growing season, not just the spring and summer.

Weeding and Mulching. Weed and mulch beds where over-wintering greens, spring bulbs, and early blooming perennials, like violets, are growing.

Harvest Time. Harvest winter vegetables like leeks, cabbages, and Brussels sprouts that will bolt soon. Too late? The flower buds of cabbage and Brussels sprouts are tender and tasty.

Perennial Preparation. Divide and move hardy perennials such as raspberries, cranesbills, spirea, and Shasta daisies. Trade extras with friends, neighbors, and family.

Spray Carefully. Apply dormant spray to fruit trees and roses if there were fungal problems, like black spots on the leaves or fruit, during past growing seasons. Reference books, extension agents, and staff at nurseries knowledgeable of organic practices can recommend the right spray for the problem at hand. Follow directions on the label exactly.

Lawn Care. Check the lawn mower for mowing readiness. Tune it up and have the blades sharpened before the spring rush.

Soil Savvy. Get a soil test and follow its recommendations.

Be On the Look Out for Spring. Look for crocuses, violets, and the return of swallows, the first signs of spring.

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