February is time to prepare a garden for spring by pruning citrus trees and rose bushes, planting cool weather vegetables and tackling weeds, say experts at Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly soil products made from organic material collected from more than 50 California cities including those in Santa Barbara County.
» Plant bulbs: It’s time to plant summer bulbs. Some gardeners have been storing their bulbs in the refrigerator to keep them dormant. Bulbs that need the refrigeration process include tulips, crocus, gladiolus, calla lily, caladium, amaryllis, daffodils and delphiniums. Some bulbs can be purchased and planted without chilling and should be in stock at nurseries. They include Dutch iris, lily and begonia. Stagger your planting so you will get new blooms throughout summer.
» Add a splash of color: It’s not too early to add already-in-bloom spring flowers to your garden. Pansies are hearty plants, and their flowers will last until summer. Violas and primrose, snapdragons and calendulas provide good late winter/early spring blooms.
» Prevent weeds from sprouting: Weeds are an unfortunate part of most backyards. Winter rains and warming weather make for ideal conditions for weeds to flourish. Add a layer of mulch to your garden or anywhere where weeds are a problem. Mulch suppresses weed growth. Applying mulch now will avoid hours of backbreaking weed removal in a month or two.
» Plant herbs and cool-weather vegetables: Herbs such as parsley, oregano and thyme can be planted now. February is also the optimal time to plant asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, onions, peas, potatoes, radishes, turnips and rutabaga. They will be ready to harvest in spring.
» Feed avocado and citrus trees: It’s time to give your citrus and avocado trees the nitrogen and nutrients they need for their coming growth spurt. If there is a chance of frost in your area, wait until March. Allow fallen avocado leaves to remain under the tree as mulch to protect from avocado root rot. Remove branches that touch the ground to help prevent ants from taking over the tree.
» Prepare vegetable garden beds for summer: If you plan to plant summer vegetables (i.e., corn, cucumbers, eggplant, lima beans, okra, peppers, squash and watermelon), now is the time to prepare vegetable beds. Spread 2 inches of organic compost over the garden beds and till in the compost to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. The compost will attract earthworms and other beneficial organisms to the garden and give your plants natural nutrients that help them grow. Make sure the compost is free of chemicals, animal waste or sludge.
» Care for your houseplants: Adjust watering your houseplants based on the amount of sunlight the plants receive. Houseplants may not need as much water in winter because of the reduced amount and intensity of the sunlight they receive. You can add extra life to your houseplants by replacing the first inch or two of soil with fresh potting soil.
» Keep deciduous trees hydrated: While February is the rainiest month of the year in Southern California, sometimes the region will experience little or no rainfall. If February is shaping up to be a dry month, water deciduous trees as this is the time when they begin to grow new leaves and blossoms.
— Diane Rumbaugh is a publicist representing Agromin.