2. How about veggies? You bet. There are some that you can get it the ground right now. You can plant cool weather vegetables such as spinach, peas, greens, onions, potatoes, lettuce, Swiss chard, beets, carrots, and radishes in your February garden. To be sure your soil is ready for planting, squeeze a handful and if it forms a tight, muddy ball hold off on planting. Ideally, when squeezed, your soil should gently flake away when rubbed between your fingers. Tip: To increase harvests plant in wide rows instead of single file. Use your hoe to create a shallow 6 to 10-inch-wide planting bed, toss in your seeds, and cover. It’s easy and you’ll get much more produce than you would lining up your vegetables like toy soldiers.
3. This is a great time to inspect your houseplants. Keep indoor plant pests, such as mealybug, scale, and spider mites at bay by giving your houseplants a physical exam every time you water. These creatures thrive in the dry winter atmosphere of your home and can disfigure your favorite plants. Control pests with an insecticidal soap or houseplant insecticide. Tip: Give your plants an occasional spritz in the shower to help wash off invading insect pests and to increase the humidity around the plant. Most indoor plants are tropical in nature so the more humidity you can provide, the happier your plant will be.
5. For those of us bitten really badly by the gardening bug you can start some seeds now. Start flowers and vegetables that benefit from an early start indoors in February. Use grow lights to germinate begonia, geranium, coleus, eggplant, and peppers. For best results, use a soilless seed-starting mix and hang grow lights just a few inches over the top of your plants. Use a timer to keep the grow lights on for 12 to 14 hours a day. Improve germination by using a heat mat underneath your plants to keep the soil warm. After your seedlings are up and growing, feed them with a diluted (at a quarter of the strength recommended on the packaging) solution of liquid fertilizer every other time you water. Tip: Try not to start your plants too early. Read the seed pack to find out how many weeks it will take for your plants to develop into the ideal size for the garden. Then, count backwards from your last expected frost date to get an accurate start date. The last frost date for the San Antonio area is March 11th and for Austin it is March 25th so you can figure about mid-March.
6. Right around Valentine’s Day and Labor Day is when I prune my roses. Late winter, while the plants are still dormant, really is the ideal time to prune roses. Remove dead branches and any bloom stalks left over from last year. A good rule of thumb is to prune roses, except climbers, back by about a third each time you prune. This promotes compact growth and improves the overall form of the plant. Climbers can be left alone unless you want to trim stray branches. Tip: Good air circulation is important to maintain rose health. If your roses are growing into each other, prune them so air can flow between the plants. This helps prevent common fungal problems such as black spot disease. Just look at those beautifully pruned roses below - I can't wait to see them in full bloom!
8. Finally, I want to suggest to you that it is the perfect time to start a gardening journal, if you have not already been keeping one. Maintaining a garden journal is one of the best ways of keeping tabs of how your garden performed each season. Take note of which vegetables tasted the best, what roses had the most fragrant blooms, the insect pests that gave you headaches, or container combinations that knocked your socks off. Write down everything you can think of, positive or negative, about your garden so you can refer to it as you prepare for another planting season. Also, make a point to take photographs of your garden every week so you can monitor its progress through the year.
Taking all of the above into consideration I guess it really isn’t so hard to be a gardener this time of year after all!