February is the kickoff to gardening in the new year. Now is the time to act on the plans you made all winter.
First off, new beds should be dug. Consider raised beds to circumvent the problems endemic with our heavy clay soils. If you forgo raised beds, incorporate compost as you’re tilling to loosen the soil. Before you place a new bed, make sure you know what will grow in that spot. The easiest way is to look at what has grown there before. Eight hours of sunlight is essential for most flowers and vegetables. If a spot seems a bit shady, consider a shade-loving plant like whopper begonias — but not vegetables.
You may plant cold tolerant vegetables like most leafy greens now, but consider a hoop house or some other frost fighting measures for hard frosts. Choose a sunny area.
In late February, start your tomatoes and peppers in trays indoors. By the last frost, they should have three leaves and be strong enough to transplant. Solanaceous plants take up to two weeks to germinate, so don’t give up if you don’t see sprouts after seven days. Keep your starting medium moist but not saturated. Once they do emerge, give them light from a grow lamp.
Plant new roses and move established roses. Once you have everything where you want it, wait until mid-month to prune your established roses, and later in the month you can fertilize without undue risk of frost damage.
If you have mature trees that need pruning, prune them. Last year was a bad year for abnormal growth, especially in oak trees. Remove the unsightly water sprouts (the small twigs growing from the trunk or large branches of the tree); they look bad and detract from the health of your main branches.