CENTERVILLE – The gray winter days are just around the corner, but even in the darkest days the glimmer of spring shines.
While it looks like there isn’t much to do in the garden this time of year, there is a lot of gardening that keeps people busy on the bleakest of the Queen’s office, according to Rachel Rhodes, coordinator of Master Gardner at the University of Maryland Anne’s County in expansion.
Keep garden beds covered with shredded leaves, straw, or bark mulch to minimize the risk of soil erosion and nutrient runoff.
As a reminder, the Maryland Lawn Fertilizer Law prohibits anyone from using fertilizer products to melt ice and snow on steps, sidewalks, or driveways.
Keep feeding wild birds for the remaining weeks of winter. Black oil sunflower seeds and suet cakes are great choices for a wide variety of birds. Keep bird feeders clean and provide fresh water for wild birds.
Check the germination rate of the old seed. Place 20 seeds between dampened paper towels, roll up the towel and place in a plastic bread bag. Put the bag in a warm place and check what percentage has sprouted after five to seven days. Discard seed lots with less than 75% germination.
February is a good time to organize the garage or garden shed.
It’s also a good time to buy fresh seeds locally or order from seed shipping companies. Choose strains that are resistant to diseases that are a problem in your garden.
When planting seeds indoors, put up fluorescent grow lights and collect the materials you need: pots, bowls, bottomless mix.
At the beginning of the month, start seeds earlier plants like leeks, onions, shallots, and artichokes indoors under fluorescent lights. Also start peppers – they grow very slowly.
Start sowing turnips, turnips, Chinese cabbage, kale, and other early plants later in the month. These can be set up in the garden in three to five weeks. Or sow these plants directly in the garden as soon as the soil is ready to be worked.
Also, build a cold frame and add compost and good soil at the end of the month, then sow spinach, lettuce, or a mesclun mixture for early green.
Start a compost heap if you don’t have one.
The length of the day increases and the sunlight is more intense. Indoor plants will show signs of new growth. It’s time to fertilize indoor plants.
Leaf yellowing and leaf drop houseplants can be the result of poor lighting conditions combined with overwatering. Spider mites are another possible cause.
Anthurium, moth orchid, African violets, kalanchoe, cyclamen, lush gardens and air plants – very low maintenance – are nice gifts to brighten up any interior.