Thursday, February 16, 2012

February (mid February) Gardening Tips

Hello again,

Here are some bullet points for mid February:

1. Plan your vegetable gardens. To avoid insect and disease repetition try to "rotate" your vegetable locations. This is especially important for tomatoes. Out of space? Plant tomatoes in containers....this will work fine. Use a great soil like Bar Harbor Blend by Coast of Maine, supplement with an organic food like Espoma's Garden Tone and be prepared to water your tomatoes often and thoroughly if they are in containers.

February is a Good Month for Garden Planning and Other Tasks!

The last couple of years I have used Earth Boxes for my tomatoes and other vegetables. They are awesome and easy. We have them--let us show you how to use the Earth Boxes!

2. Houseplants will soon need more water but we believe it is still best in most cases to thoroughly water your plants, drain off excess water and then let your houseplants go solidly dry before you water them again. Over watering causes more problems than letting your plants going dry this time of year. Have lots of plants--especially big ones? We have well priced and very reliable Moisture Meters that can easily tell you when to water your plants.

3. Speaking of houseplants they will soon be responding to the  brighter sun. Years ago in "Crockett's Indoor Garden", Jim Crockett wrote about houseplants and February that "This is the best time to prune, re pot and propagate most plants, so they can take full advantage of the longs months of Spring and summer to grow and establish their roots....This is the best time of year to propagate a Boston fern by pinning a runner to moist soil; if you have not done so by all means divide your Boston fern this month....If you have a camellia (bouganvillea, azalea and other tropical flowering plants also qualify) that is completely pot bound, February is the time of year to re pot it, assuming that the blossom period is over."

When you re pot a plant, use a great natural potting soil like Bar Harbor Blend by Coast of Maine. Bar Harbor blend is locally produced, well priced, best quality and sold right here at Skillin's! Also never dramatically increase the size of the pot....only move up the diameter of the pot 1 to 2" in most cases.

4. Speaking of Jim Crockett, he gives some fun seed starting advice: Marigolds can be planted from seed right now and soon you will have some fun flowering plants. Once the plants are growing give them a twice weekly quick shower in the sink but the warm sun makes them a terrific windowsill plant for February and March. Mr. Crockett recommends the French Marigold or more dwarf types for more compact indoor flowering.

A Fun Plant to Grow from Seed for you Windowsill!

5. This is a great time to prune grape vines. And decidous trees as well for good shaping.

6. Another note from Mr. Crockett in his classic Crockett's Victory Garden: "February is also the month to begin forcing branches of flowering trees and shrubs, including forsythia, spirea, Japanese quince, apple, plum, peach and pussy willow. There are two reasons that some gardeners don't have success with forcing branches: they try to force flowers too quickly in a warm room: or they fail to counteract the arid indoor air, so the latent flower or buds dehydrate instead of opening. But there is a way to avoid both these problems. First of all, wrap the bunches of stems in several layers of damp newspaper; then set them into water in a cool, brightly lit but not sunny room. The buds will stay springtime-moist and will open to their fullest beauty."

Forsythia Branches Can Be Forced for Great Winter Color!

7. Gardening friend Margaret of A Way to Garden has 20 FAQ's about seed starting. Her post is not short but that means it is chock full of great information. I have read it and learned quite a bit and also was reminded of quite a bit more. We also have a great Seed Starting class coming up on March 3 here at Skillin's!

8. Give your houseplants a good spray on the foliage on a regular basis. Common insects like spider mites, mealybugs and aphids love to exist in dusty environments. Weekly sprayings of water keep your plants clean and is a great natural way to help keep the bugs away!

9. February and March are good times to prune deciduous hedges not only for height but also to thin out the interiors. They will soon grow back nice green growth. But our hedges do get quite thick and that thickness can lead to disease on the foliage when the air gets thick and humid in Skillin's Country.

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
February 15, 2012

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