A GROWING CONCERN: Planning ahead for a glorious spring

FEBRUARY IS HERE. Spring begins March 19 at 8:50 p.m.

Daylight length is getting significantly longer and there is a mountain of yard jobs to be performed.

So, here comes the to-do list for mid-winter that gets you ready for spring gardening.


The next four weeks are the mandatory time for many plants to be pruned.

Start the pruning now. Edible and ornamental fruit trees most definitely need to be pruned before the arrival of spring — like today.

Large trees and bushes are at an optimum time for a big cut job. Why not thin those bushes out of the windows?

Mulch, mulch, mulch

Here is another garden task ideally accomplished now. Go around your landscape and put a nice thick layer (6 to 8 inches) of beauty bark.

Even better, put 5 inches of an old semi-decomposed bark down first (far more plant friendly) and then put down an inch of a decorative and more expensive bark for that perfect look on top, if that’s your thing.

Mulching done now will suppress weeds on their way up.

Mulch around your vegetable garden, edible fruit and berries.

For sure, mulch your flower and perennial beds. Spread nice rich, compost, manure, mulches or other black topsoil a few inches deep.

Every year, you should condition your soils and a pre-spring application of mulch keeps weeds down.

Later it will enrich the soil greatly when cultivated into the ground during April.

But never let the mulch touch the trunk or stems of trees.

Invasion of the garden-snatchers

Weeds, those demons of the soil, have taken advantage of our mild weather and an inspection of our driveway cracks, mulched areas, flower beds, planter boxes and vegetable gardens will reveal their infestation.

They are small now but resilient and hardy.

Destroy them before spring’s reinforcements arrive.

Apply germination inhibitors afterward for months of protection.


If you are working on the weeds, then just before you mulch, give your yard a fresh edging.

The soil moisture is perfect now for this task, so edge along all walkways, paths, driveways, patios, tree rounds, flower beds and your landscape beds.

Edging keeps the property looking neat and stops the grass rhizomes that are active now from invading spaces in which they are not welcome.

Organic fertilizers

Mid- and late-winter is your time to start. It will take four to 8 weeks at these temperatures for organics to become readily available to the plants.

Apply now with the rains. A nice application of blood meal, bone meal, lime —a must for grass and gardens here — kelp meal, rock phosphate, wood ash, green sand, etc., will be perfectly timed for your plants’ spring requirements.

The sweetness of all your edibles will be unbelievable.

Perennials can wait

Be careful. February and March are the time many people reprehensibility harm their perennials. Cold frosts are still present, so do not clean up, rake hard, or prune away.

Wait carefully.

Add organic fertilizers, mulches and watch for rot damage.

Remove only those leaves or bio-material that is turning into sludge.

Perennial time will be in April, but plan and order new ones today.

Roses are red today

Do not prune your roses. We will do that March 1.

They would love a light cultivation now of the top ¼- to ½-inch of the soil line.

Also, all old leaves should be stripped off and picked off the ground. Nothing would be better than an organic feeding of blood meal, bone meal, a little potash, then add an inch of black compost or manure.

Again, cultivate ever so lightly to mix and then put another 2 to 3 inches of mulch atop of this preparation.

Water in well and prepare for one heck of a good May showing.

Be a transplanting fool

What plants or perennials of yours need to be moved?

Figure that out and transplant in the next four weeks.

Mid-winter is perfect for roses, grape vines, clematis, bushes, trees, shrubs, even perennials and especially peonies.

As always, first dig entirely around the plant to be moved.

Do not thrust the shovel here and there and rip it from the ground.

Even if it is raining, water in the newly transplanted item.

Discover bare-root

Bare-root nursery stock, perennials and roses are now on the market.

There is no better way to get big items any cheaper.

Get some fruit trees, a tree peony root and some great fall leaf color tree for your yard this month.

Your lawn needs you

First lime it.

Fifty to 80 pounds of lime per 1,000 square feet are great when applied now in February.

Then for March 1, spread grass seed over the entire yard for a lush look this spring and fewer bare spots for those ever-present weeds.

Give it a nice short mow this month also.

Sweet peas

Soak them overnight in lukewarm water with old manure or compost and sow them Feb. 20 then again 20 days later.

For March, sow edible peas and try cold tolerant salad greens, too.

Learn the value of cold frames for the vegetable and flower garden.

Build something

Build that potting bench, rain barrel, or cart you want.

Wouldn’t a cold frame just be fabulous for year-round use?

If you don’t do it now, there will be no time until next winter.

I know I am a little nutso here, but get those hooks and brackets up, buy those window boxes, enroll in a flower basket building class, or order your tuberous begonias.

Do something to add hanging baskets and window boxes to your house or business.

Start the preparation now and join me in the simplest way to show off to everyone our superb flower environment.

Go to the show

How can anyone not take the opportunity to simply get over to Seattle and attend the country’s second largest flower show?

The Pacific Northwest Flower and Garden Show is being held Feb. 26 through March 1 at the Washington Convention Center on Pike and Seventh Streets.

I will write about this fabulous botanical extravaganza in a few weeks, but you must put it on your calendar as a gardening chore.

It will be one that pays off all year long.


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email news@peninsuladaily news.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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