All right, folks. It’s time to get serious about gardening again. Like I mentioned in last week’s column, it feels to me like we are going to have an early spring.
Unless it continues to rain like crazy and it stays dark, in which case, it will be a late spring. How’s that for conflicting information?
Actually, when it is all said and done, spring never varies by more than a week or two, so I guess it is a moot point.
Here are a couple gardening to-do list items to focus on for this week. There will be more to come later.
Weeds: Did anyone look up “shot weed” last week? If so, you probably learned that the mother plant “shoots” it seeds when they are ripe and can spread them up to 6 feet away. If we wait too long to pull them up, the mere process of touching them will cause the seeds to explode and disperse throughout our gardens.
I have noticed that some of my shot weeds are starting to bloom, so it is best to jump on them as soon as possible, which will save you a ton of work next year. Remember, these weeds are annuals and germinate in the fall, usually in September. If we had cleaned out our beds in November and spread some fresh mulch, we would have smothered any seedlings and been done with them for the season.
If you are looking at a bunch of shot weed, chickweed or any annual weeds for that matter, get out in the beds this month (the sooner the better) to stirrup hoe them out. Spread some fresh mulch and your worries will be over.
Perennial weeds are a different story, as they will come back from their roots later this spring, but we can deal with that another time.
Pruning: February is the ideal month for pruning the garden. Remember, not everything needs to be pruned. Dwarf evergreens that only grow an inch or two a year will probably never need to be pruned. Mature shade trees that have reached their full height should be left alone, except for perhaps removing an occasional dead limb or two.
Anything that blooms in the summer (rather than the spring) can be pruned back severely now. This includes such shrubs as roses, hardy hibiscus, butterfly bushes and smoke trees — to name just a few. The same is true for any perennials that weren’t cut back in the fall.
Evergreen perennials like ferns and hellebores should have last year’s leaves removed, being careful not to break off the new shoots or flowers. Doing this makes them look much more attractive and also helps prevent the spread of diseases.
Fruit trees also will need to be pruned this month, as will vines like grapes and wisteria. If you need help, bring in some pictures to your favorite local nursery, and I’m sure they will try to explain what you need to do. Check out Plant Amnesty in Seattle for even more information.
Planting: It’s never too early to plant — and you would be amazed at what the garden centers already have in stock. Fruit trees; roses; berries; perennial vegetables, like asparagus and rhubarb; shrubs and perennials can all be planted now. Shop early for the best selection. Remember to add in some organic compost and fertilizer when you plant something new.
Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at email@example.com.
Have Rose Success
Attend a free class to learn all the tips and tricks to growing roses in Washington 10 a.m. Feb. 10 at Sunnyside Nursery, 3915 Sunnyside Blvd., Marysville. For more information or to sign up, visit www.sunnysidenursery.net.