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Friday, February 17, 2012

Got Compost: February Gardening Tips

Got Compost: February Gardening Tips: The middle of February? Already?! We’re still feeling the sting of winter weather, maybe even using it as an excuse not to work in the garde...

February Gardening Tips

The middle of February? Already?! We’re still feeling the sting of winter weather, maybe even using it as an excuse not to work in the garden. If you’re a dedicated gardener, you haven’t been wasting these precious weeks. And if you have neglected your planting beds, you definitely have time to prepare for spring.

Take a look at your trees, both shade and deciduous fruit trees. How about roses? These plants could undoubtedly use some help – a good pruning should do the trick. If you’re not familiar with correct pruning techniques it’s well worth the investment to hire a tree specialist. Hacking away at any old branch can spell trouble for these weather worn plants, possibly damaging future growth.

And did you know that February is bareroot season. Fruit trees, berries and roses are available for planting at a lower cost now than in the spring, when we find them in containers.  Be sure to dig a hole larger than the root spread of the tree, mixing in plenty of Harvest Blend Compost with the dirt, to use as backfill when planting. Click here for tips on using compost to plant and care for trees and shrubs.

Are you planning for your vegetable garden? You can start beets, lettuce and spinach indoors to plant out later when the weather warms a little. If you don’t have the latest seed catalogs lying around the house, click here, scroll down the page and you'll find links to some of our favorite suppliers.

Warm days/cold nights.  While February may see some warm days, nights will still be cold and there’s even danger of frost, so be prepared to protect tender plants. If you are unable to bring the plants indoors, try to group them together in a protected location up against the home or even under the eaves or a carport and cover them with a light blanket, sheets, tablecloth, polypropylene material or custom plant blankets or other cloth for the night. The south and west sides of the home are normally the warmest. If the container is too big to move, you can mulch around the container or wrap the base with a blanket or other cloth.

Covering a plant with cloth is one of the most effective ways of protecting a plant during extremely cold weather. Make sure the cover extends all the way to the ground so that it can trap in the heat. Plants do not produce heat but the soil does. Rocks and clothespins are effective ways to help keep the cover on and better insulate the plant from the elements. Be sure to remove the covers daily when the temps rise since the added weight of a wet cloth can break delicate branches. Wood stakes or tomato cages around the plant can keep the covering up and off the leaves. Small plants can also be covered with cardboard boxes placed upside down over the plant.

Don’t use plastic materials to cover your plants. Plastic can burn the leaves it touches on a cold night and it also cuts off air to the plant. In addition it acts as a greenhouse taking plants from nightly lows to much higher temperatures during the day. This rapid temperature change can cause serious freeze damage or can be fatal to plants.

And our favorite, Compost as mulch, protects soil from colder temps. For more on compost and its uses, visit