Q. Im ready to begin gardening again. What are some tasks I can do in February? Robin Wayne, Cambria
A. The curtain goes up in gardens around the county. Our temperate climate makes for a long growing season and hopefully you are ready for action.
Before you jump into planting in February, check out the publication at http://ucanr.org/blogs/slomggarden/blogfiles/3250.pdf or stop by the Master Gardeners desk on Sierra Way in SLO for the pamphlet giving frost dates and other temperature data. The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) prepared the publication for home gardeners and gives frost dates and other temperature information for local areas. The summary provides average dates for the first and last frosts, chill hours, average growing season, lowest record temperatures, and growing degree days for grapes. Not all communities are represented on the chart but you can consult it for similar coastal or inland areas. This information will be helpful for developing a planting schedule.
In many areas, you can sow seeds of flowers such as alyssum, yarrow, aster, calendula, coreopsis, cosmos, marigold, rudbeckia and poppies. Vegetable seeds such as beets, carrots, lettuce, and snowpeas can be planted now. In colder areas, start seeds indoors or in a coldframe. Plant spring and summer bulbs such as calla lily, cannas, dahlia, bearded Dutch iris, and gladiolus. Plant bare-root roses, fruit trees, berries and grapes early this month.
Finish pruning dormant trees and shrubs that bloom in summer and fall. Shape fuchsias, and cut back perennial grasses like Calamagrostris. Remove weeds as they spring up.
Lightly fertilize citrus trees. Wait to fertilize fruit trees until there is 4 to 6 inches of new shoot growth. Feed with a balanced fertilizer. Dig in well-composted manure around perennials and cover with mulch. Now, you are ready for your first curtain call of the season.
Got a Gardening Question?
Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners: at 781-5939 from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday and Thursday; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon in Arroyo Grande; and at 434-4105 from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners Web site at groups.ucanr.org/slomg/ or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.