by Leslie Cox; Wednesday; February 1, 2017

After tackling a few chores in January, we are now on a roll. Here is another list of what we should be getting done in February.

Sadie - Snowstorm Dec 2016

In the garden:

  • We can still get snow this month, so keep a weathered eye on your trees, shrubs, vines, and evergreen perennials. Knock the snow off, if necessary.
  • Prune your fruit trees, grape vines, and cane fruits…raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and currants…if you did not finish this chore last month.
  • Once the fruits are pruned, spray with horticultural oil (dormant oil) when there is a dry window of at least 24 hours and temperatures are above freezing. But only treat those fruit plants which had pest or disease problems last year…like forest tent caterpillars or pear trellis rust. (Info about forest tent caterpillars – click here. Info about pear trellis rust – click here.)
  • Check to see if any early spring bulbs are poking up…like Galanthus spp. (snowdrops) and Muscari latifolium (grape hyacinth). Remove snow and leaf mulch, if they are buried underneath…provided you can remember where they are!
  • Put the bird feeders out again, if more snow is in the forecast.
  • Continue whittling away at any projects you managed to start working on last month. Hopefully, you can wrap them up by the time spring arrives…if the weather cooperates.
  • Keep up with the weeding. Any days when the thermometer creeps upwards, those weeds will be bursting onto the scene. And do not let up on your war on that pest: Cardamine hirsuta (hairy bittercress). New seedlings will still be popping up and you want to pull them out before the seeds pop.
  • Do not walk in the garden beds if the soil is soggy. You will be compacting it and making it difficult for the new shoots to break through. To do a compaction test…take a handful of soil and squeeze. If water dribbles out through your fist, do not venture into your garden beds.

Malacosoma disstria - forest tent caterpillar

In the vegetable garden:

  • Continue harvesting winter and any root vegetables still in the ground under cover.
  • Dig and amend vegetable beds as they are emptied.

In the greenhouse:

  • Check on the plants you are over-wintering from the elements. Water any that are excessively dry.
  • Check for possible insect infestations or diseases.

Brugmansia 'Snowbank' flowers

In the compost pile:

  • Keep turning the pile…if it is not buried in snow. Cold as it is, this will build up heat and destroy weed seeds.
  • Be sure to cover the pile so rain will not leach out precious nutrients.

In the tool shed:

  • Good time to sort and organize things in the shed so everything is ready for spring. Organizing gives you a fresh mental map on where each item is in the shed.


  • Keep checking your over-wintered tender perennials. Remove any leaves that are decaying and inspect plants carefully for aphids or other pests or disease.
  • Check the soil moisture in the pots. Only water when the soil has started to dry out for a few days.
  • If you use wood heat, watch your houseplants do not suffer from too much dry heat. Stick them in the shower for a brief wash-down once a month, or mist them regularly with a spray bottle filled with water.
  • Order the seeds on your wish list…if you haven’t already. Wait too long and the seed company may be out of the variety you want.

Coleus 'Saturn'

And please…stay warm! Winter is not quite finished with us.