Upper South

February, 2010
Regional Report

Do Some Pruning

Utilize a warm, sunny day or any day if you're hardy enough to begin pruning ornamental and fruit-bearing trees and shrubs. Just remember that with spring-blooming ornamentals, pruning now removes flowers, so these are best pruned after flowers fade. To simplify everbearing raspberry pruning, remove all canes to the ground. You'll get just one large late crop, rather than two crops, but save a lot of labor time and effort.

Start Cool-Season Vegetables

Start seeds indoors for cool-season vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, five to seven weeks prior to transplanting outdoors. If you provide protection for these crops, such as frost fabric or low poly grow tunnels, they can be planted as early as March. Look for broccoli varieties that produce lots of side shoots after the main head is cut. If you have a small family, try some of the cabbage varieties that produce one or two pound heads.

Fertilize Houseplants

With the days growing longer and somewhat brighter, new growth begins for houseplants, so start adding a water-soluble fertilizer to the water or work a granular one into the soil surface. Foliage plants require relatively high nitrogen fertilizer (the first of the three numbers on the fertilizer formulation), while blooming plants thrive on formulations that are higher in phosphorus (the second number).

Sharpen Garden Tools

Have your garden tools cleaned, sharpened, and ready to go with that first breath of spring. Pruners, clippers, loppers, shovels, and hoes all will make you more productive with this effort. Use a file and restore the original bevel and smooth out any nicks. Wipe metal parts with a rag dipped into motor oil. Wipe wooden handles with linseed oil. When finished, determine the most efficient way to store them that also suits your personality. Some people like hanging them on pegboard, while others prefer baskets or plastic tubs.

Go Shopping

Although it may seem like jumping the gun, most stores that stock garden supplies are already putting out their displays. Inventory what you have and make a list of needed supplies, particularly items for starting seeds, but also fertilizer, soil amendments, stakes, plant labels, and so forth. Be sure to also think about items like trellises, garden ornaments, and fountains, which add to the enjoyment of gardening.

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