Organic Vegetable Gardening in An Urban Setting

February Garden Checklist

February may be cold but the days are getting are getting longer. Spring is coming soon and so the list of chores grows too.

The first order of business is snow load. Check your berry canes and fruit trees for snow damage. Prune any broken canes or branches. Brush off your plants to lessen the chance of breakage from the weight of snow and ice. These trees and bushes can be pruned safely as long as the ground is still frozen and the day is not too terribly cold.  Check for scale, galls, and caterpillar nests and remove them at this time. Now is the time to check up on dormant spray kits for fruit trees as they will have to be applied soon before the trees buds form and burst forth to herald spring.

Check for winter damage to cold frames, raised beds, and containers. This is also the time to make sure that your garden tools were properly cleaned and prepped up for spring. If you need a new shovel or hoe now is the time to go after it before the rest of the gardeners out there get the same idea.

If you haven't done this already order your garden seed. The longer you take to order; the longer it will take for delivery and the later you get started germinating your seed.

Buy and set up a gardener's journal. This can be any notebook that you can record things such as sowing dates, water and feed schedules, which pests or diseases occur throughout the year and what you did to combat them. Recording weather in your journal will give you an idea how different plants react to your local climate and what you can do next year to increase production or deter problems you have experienced in the past. You can get a simple one here. gardenjournal.pdf

This is the time to test last years seed for viability. Try germinating a few and see how they do. The standard is to try and germinate 10. Count what germinates. Stick a zero after the number and you have a percentage of germination rate. If this rate is really low you might think of replacing that seed now before you come to count on it later in the season. If the rate is less than 60% you probably cannot count on it working when you need it too.

Organize the space and the lights for the plants that you need to start indoors before the last frost date in order for them to mature in time for your garden plan. You do not need anything special to start seeds in. Look in the recycling for old yogurt, ice cream, or deli containers. Use any old baking dish you may have around. Even old starter pots that last years transplants came in are good and are quite often available in the spring as someone else refuse. Many nurseries throw these out and will very happily give you all you can carry and more.. Just remember to clean and disinfect anything that you collect for use around what will ultimately be your food.

Now that the days are getting longer you can divide those houseplants that need it. Remember though that strong active growth will not happen for a few weeks yet so don't be tempted to increase the watering or fertilization of your houseplants quite yet.  

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