Garden, Plant, Cook!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

February Gardening Tips

Dear Folks,

A few tips for this coming month.  February is the last month to plant cool weather annuals like cilantro and dill and is the start of the planting time for Tender Perennials like tomatoes, basil, eggplant, peppers etc.

GARDEN TIPS for February

FROST:  The last frost date averages around February 15th, although we have had frost as late as March 1st or 2nd (usually the result of a late winter storm with hail).

Frost in the Valley at the 1100 or lower elevations is usually limited to ‘soft frost' where simple sheets or paper placed over sensitive plants (or moving potted plants beneath patios or trees) is sufficient to protect them.

For every 1000 feet over 1100 in elevation the last frost day is moved back 10 days and the possibility of hard (killing) frosts starts to occur. At 2000 feet or lower, this is still a rare occurrence.

Getting your edible seedlings in the ground as early as possible provides longer-produce seasons - especially with plants like tomatoes.

Use homemade 'cloche' covers to protect seedlings -- cut the bottom of gallon milk containers or 2 liter soda bottles - clean very well to avoid mold -- place over plants each night until frost danger is past, remove during the day, or if you need to be gone for several days remove the cap to allow excess heat and humidity to escape.

How do you know if we are finished with frost? There are some examples in nature, but you still need to be prepared to cover sensitive plants through the 2nd week in March.

Ant activity in the garden indicates the soil has warmed up sufficiently for them to start gathering food again.

If the mesquite trees have started to bud out, it is unlikely to frost after that.

Be aware that a warm storm can contain some hail through March.

February is the last optimal month for early (before heat) perennial planting.

Fertilize fruit trees now -- Use Valentine's day as the target -- (and again in late May and early September).

Have a great day!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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