Tofino gardening in February
by Trina Mattson, Tofino
Alas the smell and feel of Spring, swelling buds, new shoots and snowdrops peeking out of the soil, the idea of being able to work in the garden, sowing seeds, fertilising, liming and planting up some primroses, who thought it would be so exciting? And the last part of January was a real treat, well except for the surprise snow fall, flurries ha! But when the sun came out cold it was, still being outside was an option; although for myself how much work was achieved because everything was frozen solid and/or covered in snow well that's another story, but the possibility to either have a snow ball fight or lime the lawn was there, and either way you get covered in the white stuff.
For the list of things to do and even though it's short and easy, the benefits are worth the minimal effort. Check any over wintered bulbs and tubers for rot and dehydration, if they're rotten toss 'em, if they're dehydrated spritz 'em. A really cool idea I read about for storing bulbs, corms and tubers was after you pull them out for the fall, let them dry out just enough to shake the dirt off, then store them in a used dog food bag that is lined, the wax liner inside will keep the bulbs from drying out too much, and still keep them protected from frost etc. just hang them up, so not to create rot, and potential bug hazard. Pot up any wintered over geranium roots, and get them started for the year. When and if we get a few nice days of weather and not freezing, spray your ornamental trees, fruit trees, and roses with a dormant oil spray and lime sulphur mix to kill any over wintered insect eggs. Try to spray about 3 times over early spring. Prep your vegetables beds with a layer of compost or organic matter, to boost its nutrient value, and about 3 weeks later if needed add lime to the bed. Get ready to order and purchase seeds as the catalogues are now in and seeds are ready to be shipped and are available in garden centers. Remove any annual weeds from garden beds. Start hardy vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach, radishes, and corn salad, as well as broad beans, celery, fennel, leeks, onions, parsley and peas, some can be started indoors, some outdoors.
This is prime slug time, so bait now, for the most effective results, get them while they're hungry. Prune any group 3 (c) clematis by the end of February, these are the varieties that bloom on currents year growth, such as Jackmanii, Ascotiensis, Ernest Markham, just to name a few, for a complete list, or if you're not sure which variety you have come on in to the garden centre and we'll be more than happy to help you.
Also fertilise all your clematis before the end of the month as well, and why not, since you're standing there staring at it anyway. Although any fertiliser will give you better results than none at all, we have had great success with a fertiliser that is specific to vines, and those that have used it tend to agree. Plant up primroses, pansies, violas, and cyclamen for a punch of color by the front door to beat the winter greens. Check out the gardens for the earliest colour, among these are the branches of the Coral bark maple, Salix x flame, Cornus siberica, and Cornus Alba. Also watch for early flower color as with the Hamamelis (witch hazel), hellebores, snowdrops, grape hyacinths, and heather. By the end of February we should start to see Daffodils, Rhodo Rosamundi, and pieris.
And last but not least for this area lime the lawn, this will help to discourage the moss, that almost everyone detests, as well as an application of lawn fertiliser, be it either commercial or organic, will greatly boost the growth, and compete with the weeds and moss, but with the amount of rain and lack of nutrient rich soil, you should really feed everything. And since you have the lime in your hand so to speak, give some to your lilacs, and other lime loving plants, but watch out for the rhodos etc. Okay, maybe not so short, but we had all winter off, time to play catch up.
Trina Mattson runs the Ordinary Corner Nursery in Tofino.