Western Mountains and High Plains

February, 2010
Regional Report

Early-Sprouting Bulbs

As the snow melts and soils warm, many spring bulbs are beginning to sprout. Don't be concerned if it's still cold. Most bulbs are conditioned to survive without any problems. The flower buds are down deeper in the soil and protected from extreme cold. If we experience open, dry periods, drag out the hose and spot-water to keep the soil cool. Be patient and the bulbs will know what to do.

Force Flowering Branches

Now is a good time to prune some branches from flowering shrubs such as forsythia, flowering almond, cherry, plum, and pussy willow. Look for branches with plump buds and gently smash the cut ends with a rubber mallet. Place the cut ends in a pail of warm water and bring inside to coax flowers to unfold.

Start Broccoli in Cold Frame

Get a jump on the garden season by starting seeds of cool-weather crops such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and onions in cold frames. Grow them in this protected environment until the seedlings are ready to plant in the garden (about 6 weeks later). Protect seedlings against severe cold and insect pests in the garden with floating row covers.

Plant Self-Pollinating Sweet Cherries

Thinking about planting sweet cherry trees? For most kinds of sweet cherries to produce fruit, you will need to plant two different varieties so they cross-pollinate. However, if you don't have the space for two trees, try 'Lapins' or 'Stella' cherry trees. These varieties are self-fertile, which means they will produce fruit without the need of another variety nearby.

Continue to Feed Wild Birds

Keep bird feeders filled with a fresh supply of seed, especially black oil sunflower seed. Clean feeders every few weeks to prevent the spread of diseases. Also, it's a good idea to have a source of water nearby to keep our feathered friends healthy and happy. Birdbaths can be kept from freezing by placing a birdbath de-icer in the water.

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