February, Short but Not So Sweet For Gardeners

February is the shortest month, but it can be the cruelest. Oh how I would like to take advantage of Leap Year and quickly land at the end of March.

Published February 27, 2012 5:29 PM
2 min read

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February is the shortest month, but it can be the cruelest. Oh how I would like to take advantage of Leap Year and quickly land at the end of March.

 

By Chris Cohan

 

February is the shortest month, but it can be the cruelest. Oh how I would like to take advantage of Leap Year and quickly land at the end of March.

 

Then the air is warmer, the sun is stronger, and plants are swelling with the impending promise of spring. Back to the present, which is a challenging time for gardens and gardeners alike. Here a few things to do in the winter garden to keep you busy and your garden perky.

Make sure that everything is well mulched, especially this year because we haven’t had the benefit of snow cover. Alternate freezing and thawing can cause root balls to heave and create severe damage. Mulching will prevent this. If there is adequate moisture in the soil and the ground thaws, the plant is able to absorb that moisture. One of the great advantages of mulching is that it prevents the soil from drying out.

 

Anti-dessicants such as Wilt-Pruf play an important part in your winter protection program. On a warm winter day, spray some on your broad-leaf evergreens to reduce water loss. Greens from holiday wreaths or Christmas tree branches can be used to cover perennials.

 

Pruning of deciduous shrubs, trees, and evergreens can be done now. Evergreen branches that might break in severe weather should be reduced in size. In case of heavy snows, shake the snow off. This is particularly important with evergreens, especially Arborvitae, which splits, droops and may never recover its previous upright form.

 

Consider planting evergreens that provide privacy, are not prone to snow splitting, and look more natural. Create a varied planting along your property line to provide interest using hollies, Eastern red cedars, Eastern white pine, black or white spruce, and Atlantic white cedar. All of these selections are native and deer-resistant. This time of year deer get desperate for food and your garden is ripe with their favorites, including arborvitae.

 

If the weatherman predicts a big snowfall, apply grass seed to bare lawn areas just before the first flake falls. This is called dormant seeding. With a snow covering, birds can’t get at the seed and the seed is conditioned for early spring germination. This is a perfect task for the procrastinating gardener who has bags of seed still in the garage. Don your down jacket, grab the seed and cast away.

 

Now that you’re outside, don’t forget to feed the birds. They are especially good friends to all gardeners. Hang a suet feeder and enjoy the daily visits of downy and red-bellied woodpecker. Their markings are handsome especially against the snow. Snow, you remember that white stuff.

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