Upper South

February, 2009
Regional Report

Do Extra for Birds in Bad Weather

Remove snow and ice from feeders, and replace seed that has gotten wet. Keep extra feeders available for us during snow storms or periods of sub-freezing temperatures. During heavy snows, clear a place on the ground where you can scatter seed for ground-feeding birds. Also scatter seeds under shrubs and along wooded areas for birds that may not come to feeders. Put out extra high-energy foods like suet and peanut butter. Birds can use snow for water, but if there's no snow, provide fresh water daily.

Get Seed-Starting Supplies Ready

Depending on what you grow, your seed-starting may have already begun, but for the most popular crops, like tomatoes and peppers, early March is your goal. But don't wait until then to gather the necessary supplies. There's a wide variety of equipment available, but a basic setup relies on a high-quality sterile seed germinating soil mix, containers that are at least 2 inches deep, and a good light source, such as a fluorescent light unit.

Take Advantage of Spring Days

From now until spring, periodically there will be mild, sunny days above freezing. These days are perfect for getting a head-start on spring garden chores. Prune berries, grapes, and fruit trees as well as ornamental shrubs and trees, but wait until later to prune roses. Remove any dead foliage or stems on perennials that wasn't cleaned up last fall. Chickweed, henbit, and other weeds are already growing, so keep up with removing them. Overwintering ornamental grasses can be cut back to the ground now, too.

Clean Houseplant Leaves

Dust accumulates on plant leaves as well as on baseboards and furniture. Besides being unattractive on houseplant leaves, it also inhibits the exchange of air and moisture in the plants, adversely affecting plant health. Wipe the leaves with a soapy sponge, then rinse with clear water. Put larger plants in the shower. For plants with fuzzy leaves, gently brush off dust with a clean paintbrush or make-up brush.

Make Observations

If you dont already keep a garden journal, now is a good time to start as the earliest signs of spring begin to appear. If nothing else, make notes on a desk or wall calendar. Record animal or bird activities, such as the appearance of the first robin or when the peepers start. Of course, also make notes of varying stages of plants. As you get into this habit over the years, you'll find it both fun and useful in planning and enjoying the garden.

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