February is a month with weather that can vary widely.
Even though it may still be cold, damp, snowy and sometimes miserable outdoors, occasionally Mother Nature will bless us with a day or two of sunshine, which inspires us to go outside and work in the yard. Pruning and clean-up are always important jobs for February.
If you are thinking about a project in your yard this year now is a great time to get on the schedule for the Robin’s Nest landscape team.
Remember, regardless of what the groundhog says, spring is still more than six weeks away!
• Keep the water flowing or provide a heated birdbath for the birds during these wintery days. Placing a few small rocks around the rim of the birdbath will allow the birds to drink without freezing their feet.
• To clean crusty clay pots, add one cup each of white vinegar and household bleach (use half as much concentrated 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.
• When watering house plants be sure to rotate pots a half-turn every other week. This exposes foliage to improved light conditions and will eliminate bending of stalks and foliage to the light source.
• Clean any gardening tools that got missed in the fall clean up. Consider painting the handles with bright colors so you will not lose them in the garden. Or dip the handles in rubber or plastic.
Not only will they stand out in the garden, but the rubber provides a softer surface to hold onto.
• Monitor your bulb gardens. As soon as you see the tips of the plants starting to show, water weekly with water soluble fertilizer at half rate.
Continue to provide weekly fertilization until the bulbs come into bloom. This will provide the nutrients needed for the best flower show. I suggest Jack’s Classic blossom booster for these feeding.
• Build raised beds now, before the growing season gets underway. Raised beds allow you to make an early start in the garden; the soil warms up faster and raised beds drain quickly too, so they are a great way to deal with clay soils.
• Raspberries and Blackberries require pruning to be productive. By removing old canes, your plant will be constantly stimulated to produce newer, more productive wood which will produce your fruit. Over fertilization will not increase fruit production, but rather force lots of vegetative growth, this is why good pruning is important!
Remember when pruning small fruit to discard or burn the canes and vines. Dead wood is a host to many insect pests and diseases, so do not compost these debris.
• Check and adjust the soil pH in the beds of shrubs, especially any that aren’t performing well. Azaleas and Rhododendrons and other acid loving plants all benefit from garden sulfur being added to the soil. PH should be between 4.5 and 5.5.
• Get out and prune branches when your soil is frozen and before the buds swell on your trees. Deciduous trees benefit from a late-winter cleanup. Some species, such as maple, walnuts, and birches, may “bleed” — when the sap begins to flow. (This is not harmful to the tree. It is more of a cosmetic issue).
3. Rose care begins now (4 to 6 weeks before they begin their spring growth). This week, check and adjust pH, roses prefer pH factor of 5.8 to 6.8.
To raise pH mix 5-10 pounds lime per 100 square feet. If pH is high, lower with Soil Acidifier at rate of 5-10 pounds per 100 square feet.
(Editor’s Note: Ken Morgan is the owner of Robin’s Nest Floral and Garden Center in Easton, Md.)