You made it! It may not feel like it, but the long winter is coming to an end. Starting this month, the garden begins to reactivate as we head into spring. Winter boredom is over and you can start prepping for a busy spring!
Add a splash of color with early flowers
February weather in Seattle can be unpredictable, but as things begin to warm up towards the end of the month you have a chance to add some early splashes of color to fight the winter blues. In particular, winter primroses and pansies provide a taste of what’s to come. Placing them in hanging planters or pots can really light up entryways to the house!
If you didn’t remember to plant them last year, no worries, you can buy pre-grown ones at local nurseries and garden stores. Just be mindful, plants grown in climate-controlled areas may need to be acclimated to outdoor temperatures at first. Bringing them inside at night for around a week can be helpful for acclimatization.
For more expansive color, consider “pink dawn” viburnums and witch hazel, which bloom early and can grow to a much larger size. Just be sure to plant them well in advance!
Use your judgment on when the right time to begin planting is. Wait until the ground isn’t frozen or too wet — usually towards the end of the month.
One great early edible crop is peas. Oregon State University recommends these varieties of garden peas, but sweet peas are also good to plant now. It’s also a great time to plant new fruit trees and bushes, and roses, while they’re still dormant. These trees and bushes are sold “bare root,” meaning that they’re not potted — possible because they’re dormant.
First, make sure to rehydrate the tree by soaking the roots in water for three hours. Then, dig a hole that will fit the tree’s roots. Go wide and remove grass within a three-foot diameter circle of the tree, but make the hole just deep enough to just cover the tree’s roots. When you plant the tree, pack in the soil around the lower roots before filling the rest of the hole. Then, construct a raised rim around the tree to hold water in and give it a big drink. After that, add two inches of mulch around the tree, making sure it doesn’t touch the trunk. Continue to water the tree generously and be patient! It can take years to reach its full potential.
This is also a good time to begin growing starts indoors to plant later. You can plant seeds from greens such as asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts to begin their growth. For more instruction, see last month’s guide on what to do in the garden.
For a decorative and functional addition to the indoors, go ahead and start a windowsill herb garden now. This will be great for cooking
Just as planting bare-root trees and bushes is convenient to do now while they’re dormant, it’s also a good time to do some pruning. In particular, roses and hydrangeas should be trimmed around now, as should ornamental grasses.
Trimming back grasses now allows them strong, fresh growth with the least period of time as ugly stubs. Make sure to research your specific plants so you trim at the right time and in the right ways and don’t inadvertently damage them. A general rule of thumb for roses is to wait until President’s Day (the third Monday of the month) to trim them.