Monday, February 8, 2010

Trish's February Suggestions

Trish’s February Suggestions (alphabetical by type)

Notes: It is not too late to plant cold-season, spring flowering plants such as snapdragons, calendula, candytuft, English daisies, pansies, Shirley poppies, bread poppies and petunias. They will still make an immediate show of color, but don’t expect them to last past June (May if heat ripens early this year). Whatever you plant, deadhead (remove spent blooms) as your flowers fade to promote more blooms. My suggestions for cut flowers this month: snapdragons, stock, sweet peas (if you already planted them). Don’t try to transplant these guys, or any other bean relative for that matter... they don’t like to have their feet disturbed.
Sow or Transplant:
African Daisies, Alyssum, Aster, Bells of Ireland, Calendula, Candytuft, Coreopsis, Cosmos, Gaillardia (it sounds like some sort of disease, doesn’t it? “I have Gaillardia…”), Gomphrena, Marigolds, Pansies, Snapdragon, Mexican and Common Sunflowers, Zinnias (my personal favorites)
Or get creative with vines: Hyacinth Bean Vine and Morning Glory need a trellis or other support.
If you are container gardening, fertilize (organically or not) every other week. Annuals in the ground don’t usually need it, if you prepared your soil. Annuals are short-livers, so the slow release of fertilizer found in composted manure is sufficient if you added some to the soil already. Of course for maximum blooms, fertilize monthly with Miracle Gro or your favorite organic stuff (this might be kitchen scraps).
Save room for:
Next month you will want to grow Cosmos, Firewheel, Hollyhocks, Globe Amaranth to name a few.

Notes: Keep your eyes peeled at the garden center. This is the time to be looking for summer flowering bulbs. Gladiolus, for example, is a great one to find right now and makes for gorgeous, long lasting cut flowers. And yes, if you can find potato slips right now, it is time to plant them. (If you find them, will you please call me!!) Ignore the Asiatic Lillies. They are always available here, but I have yet to get one to bloom before the blast furnace hits.
More Important Note: Most bulbs are mass-packaged with planting instructions for the entire country. Well, we practically aren’t part of this country when it comes to gardening. Plant your bulbs less deep here than it states. Generally speaking, unless it is a native bulb, plant it ½ the depth recommended on the packaging. Yeah, that includes everything available at Costco (great place to buy bulbs, but call me if you’re not sure if it will grow here).
Plant Summer Flowering Bulbs:
Amaryllis, Calla, Crape Flower, Crinum, Gladiolus (hint: plant a few every week in succession this month to extend the blooming period. Staggering is especially helpful if you want cut-flowers.), Hyacinth if you hurry and get ‘em in the ground early February, Tiger Flower, Spider Lily (I LOVE THESE), Pre-chilled Hybrid Tulips if you hurry as with Hyacinths.
It’s time to fertilize irises if you have them. As with anything grown in a pot, fertilize containered bulbs every other week.
Divide Canna lilies and cut them almost to the ground if you have them and replant the divisions somewhere else in the yard or share them with a friend (I know someone looking for some if you have them.) After dividing, it is time to fertilize them. No pruning of anything else until it’s a little warmer.
Save room for March plantings:
Caladium, Canna, Amaryllis, Rain Lily to name a few.

Ice plant is about the only thing you can plant this time of year in this family. But it’s a good one!

Bare Root Grapes
I know you have citrus… get out there and fertilize this month because you want next year’s fruit to be even better. Don’t fertilize your citrus unless it has been in the ground since last year. Like with any large shrub or tree, fertilize at the edge of the canopy. Fertilize your pomegranates now, too.
Time to prune your grape vines. For good ideas on how to make your grape vines more productive through pruning, Google pruning grapes. There are two basic ways, the cane method and the spur method. Both are great based on the space you have. Your production will improve exponentially with proper pruning.
Save room for March plantings:
March is time to choose and plant citrus. Make a plan! It is also the month we prune other fruit trees, so sharpen your pruners!
Fun Fact:
Want to grow rare fruit? The Desert Rare Fruit Gardener’s Society has an annual plant sale about this time of year. Very fun. Go ahead, grow some bananas, loquats, limes, pineapple! It is held at the ASU Cooperative Extension office. I feel like I am promoting that place… I’ll check into when it is and let ya’ll know.

This month you start seeing ornamental grasses in the garden center. Wait to plant them until the end of the month. Also, if you already have ornamentals, trim them up now before growing restarts.
Yep, it’s time to fertilize your lawn. You’ll be doing this every month now for a while. Make sure you water deeply after fertilizing. And no, you do not have to fertilize. I rarely do. But it’s time (if that’s your thing), and it is really worth it if you want a thick, lush lawn.
Next month:
If you are going to reseed your summer lawn or if you haven’t put one in yet (Yeah, I know you’re out there with those “dirt lawns”…) next month will be the time to do it. Choose your grass. The ASU Cooperative Extension Office on Broadway in Phoenix has a great exhibit where you can view 8 or 10 different grass types all planted adjacent to one another and labeled. You can take your shoes off and walk through it and decide what is best for you! I love that place. I was there this morning as a matter of fact.

Notes: Perenials are a hummingbird-lover’s favorite plantings. They provide food for them and enjoyment for you, and lack the upkeep of annuals.
Hint: To give perennials a good start, dig a hole that is 2X-3X the width and in equal depth to the container the plant comes in. Set the plant in the hole so that the crown is slightly higher than the soil line (to prevent rot), then add compost and a little mulch or some slow-release fertilizer as you backfill the hole. Firm it gently as you go and then add an inch of mulch at the root zone.
Autumn Sage, Chuparosa, Columbine, Garillardia, Justicas, Mexican Oregano, Penstemon, Red Sage, Valerian, Violas to name a few. I love to plant lavender and sea lavender this time of year as well.
Fun Note:
Lucky us! Many plants that are used as winter annuals in other climates will perenialize (yes it is a word, even if Word doesn’t think so) and bloom in spring and fall here. Mind you most of them will look dead all summer, but they are dormant in the same way most things are in winter. It’s too stressful, so they hibernate and come back when conditions are conducive to their lifestyle. Some good examples (from my experience) of this would be geraniums, begonias, gerbera daisies, and poinsettia.
Don’t do it this month.
Save room for March plantings:
The list is really long for March Perennials. A few favorites include vinca, chrysanthemums, daisies, lantana, etc.

Notes: Get to know your rose types before choosing and planting them. There are 5 main types in my book: Hybrid Teas, Floribunda, Grandiflora, Climbers, and Miniatures. Know if you want to bring in cut flowers, have a showy bush of color, a heavenly aroma in the yard, etc before choosing. Again, for a great idea-gathering expedition, head to the ASU Cooperative Extension Office on Broadway in Phoenix.
This is the time to plant the bare-root roses. But get it done early, once we hit mid-month, it will be time to buy the more expensive pot-grown roses if you don’t want them to go into shock and die when you plant them.
Wait till next month.
Fun tip:
I like to plant onion and garlic beneath the roses. They deter aphids and look pretty, too. And if you don’t like the look, you can keep them trimmed which means lots of yummy scallions and chives and green onions for cooking with! Double Delight! Another fun thing to do is to release lady beetles. You can buy them in the garden center (probably around the end of the month or early next) or order them on eBay. Man, I love eBay! It’s a great place to widen your plant selection, too.

There are too many to list and too much information out there to think about on this one. I don’t think most of you are here to talk shrubs. Just remember this: Don’t prune back frost bitten shrubs until next month, and don’t fertilize until next month either. That’s that.

Same as shrubs. Only difference: go plant some pine trees this month. Next month will be too late. It’s too early to plant jacaranda and other light tropicals. Wait another month.

Notes: This is why I am here! This is why I garden. Veggies and herbs (and flowers) are my thing and this is the most important month of the year in PHX for them. This month is all about the amazing, versatile and tricky tomato. IMPORTANT: Only choose varieties that state maturation within 75 days; the less days the better. Yes, this means NO Beefsteak Tomatoes (Sorry, my Midwestern friends).
This is also the time of year that your established asparagus will send up yummy green shoots, so keep your eyes open. If you haven’t planted asparagus, just remember how much you’re envying those who did and go get some transplants to put out to enjoy next year. It takes 2-3 years for asparagus to settle in and produce a family for you, so it needs to be in your long-term plan. But it grows here like a native and has a pretty fern appearance during the rest of the year. Even if you don’t eat it (yet) you will enjoy the nice soft texture it adds to your visual landscape.
Sow Seeds of (it is too late to sow tomatoes, look for transplants):
Basil (soak seeds overnight), beets (really easy and prolific here), bok choy, borage, carrots, calendula, Chinese cabbage, cilantro, collards (late month), cumin, dill (don’t let this go to seed this summer or you will be moving just to get away from it), endive, kale, kohlrabi, lavender (soak seeds overnight), fast growing lettuces, German chamomile, marjoram, mustard greens, oregano, parsley, parsnips, peas, radishes, rhubarb, rutabaga (nasty), sage, salsify, savory, sesame, spinach, and turnips.
Sow indoors for next month:
Cucumbers, summer squash, muskmelon, peppers, and watermelon.
Onions, potatoes (only through mid-month and don’t plant sweet potatoes yet), and the all-important TOMATOES. You can also find many other herbs to transplant this month, just mind that they don’t get nipped in our chilly nights. They don’t like temps below 65˚.
Divide previously planted chives, garlic chives, lemon balm, lemon grass, oregano, peppermint and spearmint. Also, time to take root cuttings to multiply your established herbs. No pruning this month.
Fertilize asparagus with a thick layer of compost and add slow-release fertilizer to your transplants late in the month.
Save room for March plantings:
The march list is as long as February. It includes some beans and melons and artichokes (take up a lot of room, plan liberally), the salsa herbs, peppers, more squash and corn (also takes a lot of room to produce well). Oh, and in April we plant peanuts. Peanuts are SO MUCH FUN to grow with kids. You can plant the raw peanuts that you find in the fresh pack nut section of the produce department at any grocery store. They are just really cool. Doing a kids’ gardening class would be so fun. Any takers? Any takers on kids’ cooking classes? Both would be on my fun-to-do list. Now, that, my friends is rambling… if any of you haven’t given up on this impossibly long email. I am so not going to proof read this baby.
Trish’s Hint:
Most items that you plant in February you can continue planting next month (but not tomatoes—get them in the ground Feb 15th). This is helpful to know for two reasons:
1. You don’t need to feel stressed if you don’t get started on February 15th.
2. Staggering is therefore your friend.
If you plant 15 carrots a week for 6 weeks, then you will harvest 15 carrots a week when for 6 weeks. But if you plant an entire packet of carrots in one day, then you will harvest 300 carrots within a few days time. My recommendation? Plant enough seeds of each plant that you could eat in a week and then plant the same number the next week. Or, plant them all at once and get ready to put away (can) the rest. Either way is a good way. I like to stagger plant some items and mass plant others. But if you are new to gardening… I don’t recommend mass planting anything at all. If you need lessons on how to do your canning, buy some jars and bring your food to my house and we’ll do it together the first time or two until you get the knack. It’s not hard at all, and not as scary as it was when Grandma did it.

Okay. That’s it. I was going to go through each group and try to name some varieties that I have had success with, but 90% of that information would probably be useless to 90% of you. So, instead, why don’t you email me if you have questions. I have been writing this for three hours and would like to go to sleep now. snore… This is the big one. There won’t be any this long again. February is the big garden month here. zzzz

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