Northern & Central Midwest

February, 2008
Regional Report

Inspect Houseplants for Spider Mites

Keep watching for spider mites, which love hot, dry air, and if you see any signs, get the plant into the sink or tub and shower it off thoroughly. After the plant has been hosed off, you might use an insecticidal soap to catch any mites that might be hanging on.

Start Tuberous Begonias Indoors

Start tuberous begonias for planting outside. Since flowering typically begins 12 to 14 weeks after the tubers are planted, starting them indoors maximizes blooming. Plant tubers about 8 weeks before the average last spring frost. Use well-drained potting mix and containers with drainage. Water well after planting and move to a warm, 70-degree F location.

Sow Onions and Garlic

Start onion seeds now. After they germinate, grow in a cool spot and keep the foliage cut back to about 4 inches until time to transplant outdoors in April. Use the trimmings for a fresh addition to salads and soup. Also, plant cloves of garlic in pots on the windowsill. Use the sprouted greens for zesty additions to salads and stir fries.

Begin Building Projects

Start garden woodworking projects like cold frames, trellises, arbors, and benches. A makeshift but functional cold frame can be set up using a few bales of straw on which an old wooden storm window is propped. Slide back the window to vent heat on sunny days, making certain to close it again before sundown.

Scatter Cold-Tolerant Seeds on the Snow

Seeds of larkspur, nigella, cleome, cosmos, and poppies can be sown directly on the ground to germinate as soon as the snow melts away. Also try this with spinach and lettuce, Chinese cabbage and other types of greens. You'll be surprised at how early a start you get.

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