from the archives:

February in Philadelphia:

We’re going to have temps in the high 50’s, maybe 60’s this weekend! And sunny skies. How I miss Chicago, but the February thaw, which has been for my 13 years in Philly a rite of passage, is one heck of a consolation prize. (Of course, there are so many aspects of Philly living that commend it, not the least it’s brilliant growing opportunities…almost everything thrives here!…and its proud tradition of horticultural excellence.)

But I digress. Purpose here is to offer some February “to do’s” for those of us itching to get in the dirt.

Fertilize acid-loving evergreens with Hollytone. Fertilize other trees and shrubs with compost (if you have your own, it’s time to turn it). This is also a good time to provide a cover of compost to gardens. DO NOT apply compost to acid-loving plants…it neutralizes the soil!!! We’re big on compost, and often use mushroom compost as a mulch…it stays dark, looks beautiful, has initial smell less offensive than Right Dress. Plants literally burst forth. Longterm benefits to soil are substantial. Drawbacks…weeds love it, too but they are easily removed in such loose medium; application in warm weather can burn young plants.

Buy seeds. You can use those left from last year, if they’ve been stored cool and dry, but don’t count on them. Build systems to start them indoors.

Pre-order heritage or other hard-to-find vegetable, fruit plants. The offerings are fascinating. Last year I was loving richly flavored Black from Tula, tangy and prolific Green Zebra and so sweet Sungold tomatoes. One of our clients described her miniature globe eggplants (I’ll get the name of the variety) that she just popped onto the grill…a delicious, buttery consistency to the filling. Another grew red corn, with red tassles…wish I’d captured on the camera. If you send here your favorites, I’ll post them! Cross Country Nursery is fairly local if you wish to pick up but she also ships…this grower has everything and then some in the way of tomatoes, eggplants, peppers…all organically grown.

Ask us for herbs…we have the best resource for just about everything you can imagine, and more that you can’t.

When snow melts and you can see the soil, check your perennials..stomp back into the ground any that may have heaved.

Clean and sharpen tools, machinery. Organize your shed or garage so that when the first day hits, you’ll be a happy, organized camper. Make lists of what tools, provisions, you’ll need.

Fix fencing, garden and raised bed structures. We’ll have the soft ground for it…purchase the materials now.

Prune Viburnum, azalea, rhodos…you’ll lose bloom, but this is a good time to identify the branching, determine what needs to go. Alsofruiting trees may be pruned now, before they set buds. Prune grapes.Raspberries and other caning fruit plants.

Check the tendesummer-blooming bulbs and tubers you may have stored in your basement or garage….Make sure they are neither too moist nor too dry and provide what they may need. I’ll be sharing what we’ve learned about storage vs leaving in the ground next fall.

Tear pages from your garden magazines, bookmark web pages and books to better communicate to us what you’d like to see in your landscapes this year.

End of the month…if weather allows, it’s not too early to prune roses. Be brutal! I’ll share more on the subject.

We are available and happy to help you with any of the above tasks, or just to talk…give a buzz or send an email or leave a note in the comment box below, and we’ll respond.

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