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It seems a little crazy to be talking about February gardening tips when it’s the middle of winter, huh? Actually, this is the perfect time to start talking about it! There’s so much that goes into getting a garden ready. The earlier you can start the better. It doesn’t matter if it’s a vegetable or flower garden either. Now is the time to start planning and preparing so you’re ready to go when the weather finally starts to warm up.
Make a list of everything you want to plant this year. I make 2 lists, one for flowerbeds and one for the vegetable garden. Next, put down the time when everything needs to be planted. If you need help with this, check out Burpee’s growing calendar. Enter your zip code for information specific to your growing zone. Then you just to have to find your seed or plant and get all the information for it. Make a note of anything that needs to be started indoors. I’m a super nerd so I do this in an Excel spreadsheet because I can sort it from earliest to latest and I can easily tell what needs attention first.
Do a layout of where you’re going to plant things this year! Change things up from last year and switch things around if you didn’t have the results you were expecting. I’ll be moving where I plant peppers this year because they didn’t do well last year. Use an online garden planner like Smart Gardener to help with your design and layout. It’s only 6 dollars for unlimited access for 90 days. Or do a search for free garden planners and see what you find. Based on past experience, the free versions tend to be very limited and can be a little frustrating to use. Or you could go old school and map it out using pencil and paper. Grid paper works great for designing landscaping, gardening or even interior layouts!
This is the fun part. Once you have your design(s) completed you can make your shopping list for seeds and supplies like planting trays or seed starting mix if you’ll be starting seeds indoors. Popular seeds will sell out quickly so be sure to get your order placed as early as possible. If you’re unsure about where to purchase seeds online, here are a few suggestions:
Clean and Organize
Organize your tools and gardening work area. It’s my dream to one day have a dedicated space just for my gardening stuff. Right now, the gardening area shares space with the garage workshop. The gardening supplies often get mixed up with the spray paint (so. much. spray paint) and scrap wood pieces. If you’re also sharing space in the garage, this is a great time to get out there and tidy up your work areas and make sure that tools are cleaned and sharpened. Also, make sure there are enough pots and planters for any containers you plan putting on decks and porches.
Depending on your zone, there may be certain seeds that you can start indoors now that will be ready for transplanting in the spring. Fully grown plants are so expensive. Starting from seed is a much more cost-effective approach and allows you to have a greater variety in your garden. Check out this article from the Farmer’s Almanac for some great tips on starting seeds indoors.
Right now when shrubs and trees are dormant is the best time to get your pruning done. The “rules” are different for each species but typically you should prune before early spring and the sap starts to rise. If you wait, you run the risk of damaging your bush or tree.
The idea of compost just grosses some people out because they immediately think it’s all old banana peels and coffee grounds. But there are different types of compost. I compost leaves and garden waste only. I built a box for this a few years ago. It’s great because I can just toss stuff in when I’m working in the yard. I mow my leaves in the fall and let them naturally break down into the ground over the winter but I also save some for the flowerbeds and compost box. Every few months you should “turn” your compost with a pitchfork or compost aerator to aid in airflow and speed the composting process. There’s a reason gardeners refer to this as black gold. By the time spring rolls around, my grass clippings and leaves have turned into a dark brown compost that’s full of nutrients that will feed my vegetables and flowers all summer long. Check Buzzfeed’s entertaining but still informative article on composting for beginners.
While this hasn’t been the worst winter, it hasn’t been all that great either. I said on Friday that I was starting to feel like I was already behind but since I took the time to knock some of this stuff off my to-do list last weekend I feel a lot more ready for spring!
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