“One years seeding is seven years weeding,” goes the old saying.
I learned from my Grandma Soule, who learned it from her mother, thus this saying is at least 120 years old, and who knows how many generations back this wisdom goes. Some of the tales those old wives told are scientifically accurate, and this is one. Leave one weed to go to seed, and those seeds can sprout for the next seven years! And longer.
Why do I tell you this story? Because our wet winter means that there are ample weeds to get rid of. That’s the bad news. The good news is that our wet winter is also generating a bumper crop of wildflowers! (Some of those wildflowers seeds have been dormant in the soil for well over seven years.)
Normally not a winter chore, give everything in your garden at least one good deep soak sometime in February if we don’t get rain. Drought stresses plants and can cause them to succumb to disease more easily as the temperatures heat up.
Deciduous plants will start actively growing as the soils warm. The roots may be working even if you don’t see shoots. Some of these need fertilizer late in the month. Avoid fertilizer on plants with tropical genes (citrus, yellow bells, loquat), if plants put on new growth too early in the year, a late frost can harm them.
No need to prune anything! Leave frost nipped branches in place until spring, which is March 21. This protects from further frost damage. There is not very much maintenance to do in the garden this month, just enjoy the season and the flowers and vegetables you have, and some planting you can do.
Anytime during the month
Catch and remove winter weeds as they germinate.
Plant annual color like pansies, calendula from the nursery.
Plant native perennials like desert marigold, globe mallow, penstemon, evening primrose, from seed or seedlings from the nursery.
Plant onions and other bulbs.
Plant new grape vines.
Fertilize your winter rye lawn once monthly.
Water wildflower beds if we don’t get rain.
Start the spring vegetable seeds indoors.
Plant cold season vegetables from nursery seedlings.
Fertilize established deciduous fruit trees, like plum, apricot, almond.
Fertilize established roses and grapes.
Optionally fertilize early spring bulbs (narcissus, daffodil) with a bloom fertilizer.
Want to learn more? Look for my free lectures at your local Pima County Library branch, Tucson Festival of Books and other venues. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening (Cool Springs Press, $23).
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