Besides being the best time of year to plant a new landscape garden, there are a few other tasks that are best performed in February.
- Weather is probably least predictable in February, but it is generally cold enough to maintain plant dormancy. Many plants respond best to pruning while they are dormant--roses, crepe myrtles, hollies, and fruit trees.
- It is a great time to perform small tree clean-up, removing dead and diseased branches and limbs, cleaning up leaf litter and debris from under the trees and bushes, and checking for broken stems and branches.
- Soil tests can be collected and mailed so that results return before the spring garden goes in.
- One of my favorite activities is perusing the "farmer's porn"--all the seed catalogues that arrive in January-- and planning my garden for spring and summer.
- Make sure that your garden is getting the water it needs. Dry winters can be extremely damaging if plants are not getting supplemental water.
- Clean and sharpen garden tools. A bucket of sand and some motor oil work great to clean plant sap and rust off of the business end of garden tools--just plunge the tool end in and out of the sand until it is clean, then wipe off with an old towel. The oil lubricates and protects the metal. Sharpened with a file and put away clean, it will be ready for you when you are ready to get to work.
The variety of jobs means that there are some that can be done on the rainy, cold, wintery days, some for the nice days that come along, and even some that can be done in the evening over a glass of wine or a mug of hot chocolate. Any and all of them serve to keep you more connected to what is going on in the garden, even in the winter.