February is a short month but a tough one for us cold-climate gardeners. We know the growing season is coming but it’s still a few months away. These February tasks will keep your garden spirit alive.
Here in southwestern Ontario, Canada, February marks the first inkling of the spring gardening season. The weather may be cold and snowy—or sunny and near freezing, but it’s time to get the grow lights set up for slow-growing seeds. It’s also the perfect time to grow quick-growing salad greens indoors.
February Garden Tasks
Planting, Sowing, & Preparations
- If you haven’t done so, get your grow lights and seed starting supplies ready. You can start annuals including flowers and veggies, perennials, and more.
- Grow salad greens and peas indoors. There is a whole intro to indoor food growing here.
- Force (grow) indoor flowering bulbs including paperwhites, amaryllis, and more.
- Grow an avocado from seed. This method is easy and fool-proof.
- Love orchids? My mom shares her best tips for beginner orchid growers.
- Start an indoor worm composting bin. You can do it outdoors too.
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- Check on planted containers in storage including bulbs and fig trees. Keep lightly watered and mouse-proof.
- Maintain winter vegetable garden. Water and air as needed.
- The right timing for pruning trees and shrubs is different for each species. Put reminders in your calendar so you catch what’s needed in your garden. Late winter apple tree pruning is on my list.
- Unless frozen, turn your compost pile when you can. Continue easy winter composting method.
- Want to tap trees for syrup? Get your supplies ready for next month.
- Make sure your pond does not freeze over. I keep a pump running and a hole open in the ice.
- Provide homemade peanut butter suet at bird feeders along with fresh, running water.
- Make sure nesting boxes are ready for bird mating season.
- Wash your bird feeders and suet cages to prevent the spread of disease.
Creative Winter Projects
Whether or not you’re a fan of cold weather, you had to admit that winter is beautiful! Glistening snow. Bright sunshine. Quiet. Birds. I love it all.
Here are some project ideas.
- Learn to hand feed birds| Winter is a good time for this.
- Make a moss bonsai in a teacup| It’s indoor gardening with an artistic touch.
- Make miniature garden accessories. Easy, fun, and frugal to do!
- Create outdoor garden art (here’s some ideas) so it’s ready to go in spring.
- Make yourself a set of beeswax food wraps. They are a good alternative to single-use plastic cling wrap.
Dream & Scheme
- Order seed catalogues or browse online:
- Plan a cottage-style garden overflowing with flowers or grow your own plants for fresh-brewed tea.
- Order bare-roots plants including asparagus and cane fruits (they are shipped at planting time).
- Order seeds for indoor sowing. Get seed starting mix and organic container mix so you’re ready to sow.
Observe & Enjoy
You may not know it by the name phenology, but you certainly know what it is. Phenology is the science of observing annual first events in nature. When flower buds open. When peepers first peep. When bees appear. When migrations arrive. When bulbs pop up. The list is endless.
Seasonal changes prompt natural responses in the plant and animal kingdoms. It is interesting to note these events and compare year over year.
Winter Phenological Events
Here’s a few examples you might notice. Here in Ontario, this tends to be our coldest and snowiest month of the year.
- Bare trees, dormant perennials.
- Birds relying on seed pods for nourishment. Nuthatches and chickadees find seeds they have hidden in tree bark!
- With the gradual return of the sun, warmer days become social gatherings for wildlife. Birds, squirrels, and chipmunks, all become more active. Pond fish move around more.
- A few warm days may trigger growth in early spring bulbs including crocuses and snowdrops.
If it’s not your favorite time, keep strong! It will be over before you know it and spring is on the way.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛