This February is much different than past Februarys. It’s not as cold, and it’s not as snowy, icy, or rainy. However, we still have winter garden chores!
Start by checking your perennial plants. You can protect your strawberries and many perennial flowers as well as garlic, over-wintered spinach, and other crops that can easily be damaged by alternate warming and freezing of the soil with mulch. Although it is too late to undo any damage that’s done, mulching now can prevent additional damage caused by spring fluctuations in soil temperatures.
You can also take a walk around the garden to check for winter damage to shrubs, evergreens, and trees. Look for damage by rabbits and rodents, too. We have a lot of rabbits in our area this year, so be sure to understand who is causing garden damage before coming up with a solution.
February is also a great time to think about the birds. In addition to keeping the feeders full, you can attract them to your yard and garden next spring by adding a birdhouse now.
Plan Now for Your Fall Veggie Garden
As we approach mid-August, it’s time to start thinking about whether you want a Fall Veggie garden. If you’ve recently reduced a lawn area, a veggie garden is the perfect replacement that will make your landscape more productive.
The following crops have a 60-day maturity date, so you have until mid-August to plant: Root veggies include Carrots, Leeks, and Turnips and Leafy crops include Cabbages, Cauliflower and Collards.
If you miss your mid-August deadline, go ahead and think about veggies that have a 30-day maturity date, which include Chives, Bunching Onions and Radishes while leafy veggies include Broccoli, Spinich, Mustard and Leaf Lettuces.
If you’re space challenged, always remember you can plant a couple of containers of veggies. You’ll love your fall container rewards!
It’s important not to get caught up in thinking an organic garden is out of your reach. Some very inexpensive and simple steps will have you on your way. Remember, an organic garden is a garden that is cared for with a more natural approach without the assistance of chemicals and pesticides.
Companion plants area a great way to repel pests. Plant tomatoes near cabbage — the pests that love to nibble on your cabbage will be repelled by the tomatoes. Another companion duo? Radishes and spinach — the radish will attract the pests from the spinach, yet the damage done above the ground won’t affect the radish below the soil.
Lady bugs will also take care of some unwanted garden pests, and you can attract them with parsley and dill, along with other nectar producing plants.
If you need to take a more aggressive route to ridding your garden of pests, use an organic bug spray, such as insecticidal soap. This soap has been used for centuries as a safe and chemical free pest repellent.
If you pests have four legs, and it’s a deer, in the end the best way to go is to replace your plantings with deer-resistant varities. Ask your local Cooperative Extension service for a list of plants that are locally deer-proof.
If squirrels and chipmunks are regular visitors, remember they like to keep a look out for enemies from the protection of their burrow entrance. If you establish a tall groundcover to block that view, they’ll seek shelter else- where. An added benefit to groundcovers? They’ll provide beautiful colors and textures to your spaces and help retain moisture in the soil. Creeping thyme and Creeping Jenny are good choices for sunny spots, and for shadier areas, tiny creeping mints such as Mentha requienii will do well. Black Eyed Susan are a good choice for those with clay heavy soil. Some nice low-water choices include Trailing Yellow Dalea and Trailing lantana.
These are just a few simple tips that will help you transform your garden space into an Organic Garden.
Cool Season Seeds Indoors!
We’re always looking out for fun and simple family garden projects — last season we wrote about a fun Fall project centered on planting bulbs for Spring. Now you and your family can start your herb and vegetable garden indoors! Yes, starting cool season seeds indoors is a great project for the whole family.
Cool season herbs and vegetables can be started from seeds indoors over the next two weeks for planting outside in April and May. Each member of the family can be in charge of two or three vegetables/herbs, with an assigned space in the yard. Seeds you can grow indoors right now include lettuce, spinach, arugula, endive, onions and leeks. A second project for next month can include planting peas, radishes, and carrots, which should be sown directly into the soil in mid-to-late March. When Spring and Summer arrive, each family member can share herbs and veggies from their spot in the garden, and experience that wonderful sense of pride that goes hand in hand with gardening.