February Gardening Tips: What to Focus on this Month
So much about what to do gardening-wise each month has to do with the weather. We got through the torrential “atmospheric rivers” of January where the need for Noah’s Arc came to mind – poor wildlife not to mention cabin crazed people and pets!
It’s early February as I begin to write this and brr, freezing! More rain. Why complain when you hear the news of 60 below zero in New England? So, no complaints but for having to buy more wood for wood stoves and fireplaces, expensive nowadays. The normal supply sure didn’t last as long as it usually does this year. Speaking of fire, it’s clean-up time in the hillsides when Indian smoke stack signals start appearing from burning the pruned grape vines along with any other fall and winter debris. The vineyards along with all the hillside dwellers have to call the Air Quality Control to see if it is an official “Burn Day”. It’s also good to warn your local fire department you are doing this so that us PTSD valley dwellers don’t freak out.
So much for my January warning of possible heat spikes in February! But, if we get just a nice sunny day with milder temperatures the mustard, field calendula groundcover, acacia, and mimosa will burst into spectacular, dazzling yellow bloom, reminding us that Spring actually does exist and is here in gorgeous Wine Country, showers, rainbows and all. The Camelias are faithfully blooming at this time, too, along with some of the early blooming Magnolias and Quince. Even the roses are beginning to sprout some new leaves so if you haven’t pruned them yet, it’s time. Be sure to spray them and fruit trees with dormant spray before budding and blooming, and before the hummingbirds, bees and other beneficial insects awake in earnest to feast. Speaking of birds, it’s mating and nesting season right now on time for the month of February, Valentine’s and love time. Mating season for all!
A garden tip for bargain hunters: it is a good time to buy bareroot fruit tree and roses so that whenever the soil decides to warm up a bit, the roots will start growing. Good to add some root growth stimulants such as B-1 when planting these. Also, to be sure to pack some soil in the center of the scattered dryish roots so they can droop along the sides of it to shoot down and out when planted. I call this balling the roots. Best now for planting before the roots have to compete with blooming and when we still have cool nights and moist soil.
Mad as a March Hare as the English like to say referring to Lewis Carroll’s Adventures of Alice in Wonderland which coincides with the Hare’s breeding season. March is indeed “madness” not just for sports, but for all of a sudden everything coming up, native flowers we call weeds, no such thing of course, but we like a certain law and order under which they don’t always comply. Walks in the Regional Park will give us babbling brook and runoff’s alongside pathways where many beautiful native bulbs and flowers begin to bloom. All the grass is green and lush, the fern fronds are appearing, along with clover ground cover (oxalis). The gorgeous orange California Poppy begins to sprout and bloom in warmer sun areas. So do the blankets of lupine. One would think one is in Ireland with the occasional Leprechaun peeking out from behind a tree or anywhere. It is St. Patrick’s just in time for beautiful, soul-filled music, River dancing and drinking Irish Coffee - yummy. Madness because the weather is so unpredictable. We can get rain, hail or even a freeze! We can get really warm and pretend it’s summer, wear t-shirts then catch a cold.
It's also Spring Equinox on March 20th, equal light night and day, some balance at last. Time to tune into magic. What other tips for March? Get out there! Get dirty and muddy. Reap the rewards of well timed planted fall bulbs of daffodils and tulips. Seed those summer starts for planting in April. Try to be reasonable and fail. Find a four-leaf clover if you can. But most of all, have fun while busy!