For many of us, February is the kickoff to the gardening season! Learn what February gardening chores you should be doing this month to ensure that your garden is ready to live it’s best life come spring.
For many gardeners out there, myself included, February is the shortest month and also the loooongest month. We’re only 28 days away from meteorological spring, but we’re also either covered in snow or rain or mud (or all three at once! Oregon coast, holla!)
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Although the days are longer, the weather can swing wildly from one extreme to the other. Mornings here are usually frozen solid, although the afternoons are pretty comfortable. Despite these crazy fluctuations, it’s still undeniably time to get going with the annual starting of the seeds!
February Gardening Chores + Tasks List
Please keep in mind that these February gardening chores are examples of tasks I do in my northwest maritime garden (zone 8). Every garden is different, and you may need to adapt your chores based on climate, growing zone and conditions, among other things.
Please take what I do as inspiration for your own gardening tasks, and grow your own roots with it!
Here are the most important February gardening chores to get done before the month ends!
Get Your Seed Orders In
First things first, if you haven’t already been through your seed catalogs a million times and ordered your new seed packets, NOW is the time to do it!
- Order seed potatoes
- Order onion slips (if you’re not starting your own from seed)
- Finalize seed orders
- Buy bare-root fruit and berry plants and trees
- Stock up on seedling plug trays
- Order pots or make your own with newspaper (this is the tool I use to make mine)
- Purchase (or make) seed-starting mix and fertilizers
- Buy seedling grow lights if you don’t already have some (they will change your life!)
Maintenance and Clean Up
Most of the things on your maintenance list in February are just holdovers from previous months. The most important cleaning chore for this month will be to wash out old seed pots and trays before using them again. I prefer washing them with a modified version of my homemade granite cleaner — I just omit the essential oils.
- Clean pots and seed trays
- Add mulch, such as straw or leaves, to any exposed soil
- Turn the compost pile
- Check and water plants in covered areas
- Make sure all clay pots are moved inside (cold weather will crack them)
- Cover garden beds with silage tarp to kill weeds and warm soil
- Keep your woodpile stocked up and your ax sharpened
What to Plant
In spite of the distinctly wintry weather we’ve been having, now is the time to start some seeds indoors (glory, glory, hallelujah)! It’s also the perfect time to keep planting bareroot fruit trees and bushes, and some perennial flower and vegetable sets. And don’t forget to sprout your seed potatoes!
Sow indoors under lights //
- Onions and leek seeds
- Artichoke seeds
- Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kohlrabi seeds
- Early Brussels sprouts varieties
- Lettuce, kale and other greens
- Rhubarb seeds
- Alpine strawberries
- Tomatoes and peppers (toward the end of the month)
- Perennial flowers
Plant outside this month //
- Rhubarb sets
- Asparagus crowns
- Landscape shrubs
- Fruit and berry bushes
- Bare-root trees
- Daffodil, crocus, allium and tulip bulbs
- Spring garlic
- Radish seeds
- Turnips (cover with a cloche for best results)
Bare-root trees and shrubs are available now, and if you can you should definitely buy some, since they are often much cheaper than their potted-up counterparts!
Fruit Trees and Bushes
Winter pruning can continue until it isn’t winter anymore. If it’s very cold and frozen where you are though, you might skip pruning for now. Use your best judgement!
Prune this month //
- Ever-bearing raspberries
- Marionberry canes
- Apple, pear and peach trees (finish this month)
- Mature blueberry bushes
Care and maintenance //
- Spread wood ash around fruit trees
- Feed a high-potash fertilizer
- Add compost and mulch around trees and bushes
- Spread a thick layer of wood chips under blueberry bushes
- Inspect supports and netting
- Cover early-flowering trees to protect from frost
If you live in a warmer or more temperate zone like I do, you might still have crops to harvest this month! Heck, even if it’s covered in snow where you live, you might have a row or two of especially hardy vegetables still out in the garden. Here are the cold-hardy plants you could still be harvesting this month:
Harvest as needed //
- Brussels sprouts
- Winter cabbage
- Rutabagas and turnips
- Winter radishes
If more than a frost threatens, I would go ahead and cover your plants with cloches or fleece row covers (this is what I use), just to be on the safe side. Also, if you’re leaving carrots in the ground to harvest throughout the winter (I am this year!) give them a nice, thick mulching with straw to keep their tops from freezing.
Pests and Diseases
February is still a great time to root out and prevent pests and diseases from taking hold in your garden! Believe me, the bugs are out there!
- Burn diseased and mildewed leaves, branches and foliage
- Net winter brassicas to protect from birds
- Cover fruit trees with net to keep starlings and crows from eating the new buds
- Look for rodent damage and holes, and use traps as necessary
- Renew the grease bands around the base of fruit trees if necessary
- Ban your chickens and ducks from the garden starting now
Houseplants and Indoor Starts
Having houseplants to take care of makes the winter a little more bearable, in my opinion. Make sure to give them some love and attention this time of year, too.
- Give ferns a deep watering and mist them to prevent them drying out
- Check, water, and fertilize indoor plant starts (like your scented geraniums)
- Pot up amaryllis and paper whites
- Try starting an avocado tree inside!
Check Stored Produce
Be sure to inspect your stored food every month! Get rid of anything that is starting to show signs of rot or that just isn’t keeping well, and make sure to use the smaller, damaged produce first.
Food to Keep an Eye on This Month //
- Mid-keeper onions (any that say they keep between 4-6 months)
- Hardneck garlic
- Apples and pears
I honestly can’t believe we’re at the start of the gardening season again already! Outside, February is still a pretty quiet month, but inside the seeds of summer are quietly and busily germinating. Happy seed-sowing to you!
What are some of your must-do February gardening chores?
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