Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Thursday, February 14, 2019

What to do in the February Garden

Happy Valentine's Day gardening friends,

As I write to you from my new home, outside it is rainy, gray, and in the 30's with windchill in the 20's. Last week we saw a little snow and ice. A pretty typical February by Portland standards. We did not receive any frost in the end of 2018. Our first frost finally arriving very late on January 1st. I was so grateful we were moved before any snow or ice hit.

I have noticed crocus, snow drops, cyclamen blooming and even a few daffodil shoots springing up. My hellebores and winter daphne were all in magnificent bloom in January as Jay and I dug and transplanted close to 200 plants to transport to our new home at the beginning of February. What a unexpected whirlwind my 2019 has been so far! I am reminded of the saying "Change is the only thing certain in life."

During cold, wet, windy winter weather we aren't usually thinking about gardening yet. However, all those seed catalogs sure are tempting, aren't they?

February continues to be a great month for preparing and planning versus planting. Take a gardening class with me, read a gardening book, and draft your planting plan so you are prepared when spring planting finally arrives.

I'm very excited to announce my first book The Gardening Goddess Guide to Edible Gardening in Portland will be published next month. Stay tuned via my email newsletter for full book release and event information.

Historically in Portland our average last frost date was April 15. Climate change has influenced our frost dates, and now our average last frost date is March 15. A light frost happens at 36 degrees, frost is 32 degrees, and a hard freeze occurs at 24 degrees. Most vegetable plants will not tolerate a light frost at the beginning of their growing season. Though, some cool season vegetables like brussels sprouts, kale, and parsnips taste better when fall harvested after a frost.

Cool season veggies are those planted in the early spring and thrive in the cooler temperatures before summer arrives. Some of the vegetables & herbs we will consider planting later in March are:

Asian greens
Mustard greens
Salad greens
Swiss chard

In March asparagus crowns, potato tubers, garlic bulbs, onion sets and bunches show up at nurseries. Joining them are perennial horseradish, sunchockes/jerusalem artichokes, and rhubarb. We can begin planting these in March when the weather is favorable.

As for February, it is a great time to assess your tools and supplies for the season. Twine, bamboo stakes, tomato cages, and fertilizer should be inventoried and purchased. Give your tools a good cleaning and take them in for sharpening. Make a garden plan and purchase seeds for the season. Remember to support seed companies who have signed the safe seed pledge. Always purchase organic and non-GMO seeds. Consider the diversity of heirlooms and the successfulness of regionally specific varieties. I purchase seeds from: territorial seed company, renee's garden, botanical interest, and seed saver's exchange. Purchase lily bulbs and dahlia tubers. I am a big fan of ordering from PNW nurseries: B&D lilies, Old House Dahlias, and Swan Island Dahlias.

Head out to the nursery to purchase cheerful potted daffodils, tulips, and hyacinth. Colorful cool season annual primrose, pansy, viola, and cyclamen brighten up front porch containers. Perennial hellebores are blooming in full glory at nurseries in February. At the florist pick up a pussy willow wreath and blooming branches. I adore my annual late winter/early spring ritual of weekly rotating forsythia, pussy willow, magnolia, cherry, and quince branches.

February is excellent timing for purchasing and planting fruit canes, bushes, vines, and trees. My insider tip is you will get the best selection at local nurseries at this time of year and the cool weather is perfect for planting fruit.

Trees: apple, pear, plum, peach, cherry
Bushes: blueberry, currant, huckleberry, gooseberry
Canes: raspberries, blackberries, marionberries
Vines: kiwi, grape

Don't forget the strawberries!!

I have many exciting, fun, and practical gardening workshops lined up this spring, starting this Saturday! Please join me.

Now is the time to schedule an in-person edible gardening consultation at your home. I love coming out and seeing your gardens-both big & small and helping you create a plan for your most successful, healthy, and abundant edible garden. Its like your own personalized gardening class in your own home with The Gardening Goddess. Schedule now before my March is fully booked!

If you are dreaming of a garden that also includes ornamental plants and don't know where to start I now offer multiple tiers of garden consultation and design. There is a level of service and price point for everyone's budget. Please check out my newly revised website for more information.

I look forward to hearing from you soon and sharing the magic of spring gardening that is right around the corner.

Happy gardening,

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