Considering all the rain that we have received lately, it is probably safe to assume that most of us have not completed the tasks I wrote about in last week’s column.
I managed to hoe out some of my shot weed and spent an hour pruning some shrubs, but that was about it. I hope the rest of you were able to do more. Just in case you have run out of gardening chores, here are a few more for February.
Lawns: Normally February is still a relatively slow month for our lawns, but due to our unusually warm winter, things are ahead of schedule. I would definitely treat for moss this month by either spreading iron sulfate — which will stain concrete, so be careful — or an organic product that contains a potassium salt of a fatty acid and will not stain concrete — and, therefore, can also be used on patios, decks and roofs.
Both of these products will turn the moss to slime, after which you will need to aggressively rake the lawn and fertilize to get things growing again. Do not try to re-seed this month, as the soils are still too cold.
Moles will start to come out of hibernation soon, so if you start seeing new mounds, make a plan of attack. Repellents seem to work for some gardeners and not for others. The main ingredient is nothing more than castor oil, and I don’t even want to know how it is supposed to work, just that it does. In my opinion, traps are the only sure-fire way to stop moles. But if you don’t want to hassle with trapping them, call someone else to do it for you.
Vegetables: We have two growing seasons in the Northwest — “cool” and “warm.” Obviously, this time of year is the “cool season,” when we should be thinking about “roots and shoots.” Root crops like carrots, beets, onions and potatoes can be planted now, as well as “leafy” crops like broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and peas.
Be patient with garden centers this month. We are at the mercy of our suppliers, and so some varieties may not be on the shelves until later. Our “cool season” runs into May, so there will be lots of opportunities to plant. While it is fun to start plants from seed, it often makes more sense to just buy transplants when you only need a few plants. With the exception of carrots, most vegetables are available as transplants from the garden center.
Repeat after me: Before you plant, always add some organic fertilizer, lime and compost to the soil. Most vegetables are what we call “heavy feeders,” and you will get much better harvests if you feed your soil generously.
Fruits and berries: It’s time to apply a dormant spray. Copper and oil is a dynamite combination that helps reduce insects and diseases. Also, sulfur and pyrethrum is a natural combination that helps control scab and mildew on apples and pears. Be sure to clean thoroughly under blueberries to help control mummy berry.
Last but not least, I can’t overstate the fact that in the Northwest we can plant year-round. Shrubs, perennials, trees, fruits and veggies can all be planted now. Don’t miss this great opportunity to get a jump on the season.
Steve Smith is the owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at email@example.com.
Hellebores and terrariums
Attend two free classes next weekend: One on the beauty of hellebores is at 10 a.m. Feb. 17 and another on planting terrariums is at 11 a.m. Feb. 18 at Sunnyside Nursery, 3915 Sunnyside Blvd., Marysville. For more information or to sign up, visit www.sunnysidenursery.net.