Gardening in February
Summer’s not quite done yet …
February is the heat of summer and one of the main harvesting months of the year for fruit and vege crops. The garden is still full of colour, with brilliant flowers like these sunflowers and some last summer blooms can still be planted for a dash of colour in the flower garden.
Watering, mulching and feeding still take centre stage this month and there's also the prospect of adding new shrubs, trees and edibles to the garden over coming weeks. The best way to keep up with what you can plant in coming weeks is to visit your local garden centre and check out what’s in stock and looking good.
What to plant now:
- Seasonal flowers:
Seeds of pansies, violas, bellis, calendulas, cinerarias, cornflowers, honesty, hollyhocks, Iceland poppies, nemesias, polyanthus and primulas may be sown into seed trays now, for planting in early to mid-Autumn. Seedlings of marigolds, impatiens and be planted in warmer areas.
Hostas, hellebores, dianthus, pin cushion (scabiosa), gaura can go in now. Spring and summer flowering perennials can be lifted, divided and replanted in late February.
- Salad greens:
Continue planting leafy salad favourites including the “pick and come again” lettuces; water in well and give some shade for the first few days until they can tolerate the sun.
The Vegetable Patch:
The veggie garden will be at its most prolific now, with all the summer crops ripening or ready to harvest. Tomatoes, climbing and bush beans, peas including sugar snap varieties, zucchinis, cucumbers, radishes, Asian greens, lettuce, sweet corn, capsicum, chillies, eggplant and other crops will all taste great when picked and eaten on the same day.
As crops finish, pull out plants and put them into the compost bin if they are disease-free. Dig over empty rows to break up the soil and incorporate the mulch, and add a dressing of garden lime (one handful per square metre) and a dressing of organic manure in preparation for autumn planting.
What to plant now:
Seedlings of salad and Asian greens may still be planted now into well prepared, moist soil. Water in with a half strength solution of liquid fertiliser. It is a little too early to sow seeds or plant seedlings of winter crops but check your local garden centre to see what other veggies are on offer.
- Brussels sprouts
- Spring Onions
Veggie patch tips for February:
- Keep vegetables and herbs producing well with a liquid plant food like Scotts Performance Naturals Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Liquid Fertiliser or a certified organic fertiliser.
- Check the ties on tomatoes and other veggies to ensure they are not too tight.
- Hand pull or hoe out weeds that compete for nutrients and moisture and may also harbour pests that could attack your crops.
- Continue watering crops early in the day direct on to the soil – avoid wetting leaves because this could encourage diseases.
- Bird netting over the entire veggie patch will keep birds and possums out, ensuring everything that’s ripe is for you, not the wildlife. Make sure the mesh size is less than 5mm to prevent birds or animals catching their claws in it.
Fruit & Flower Beds:
Fruits to harvest now:
The stone fruit and berry seasons continue, with more varieties ripening their crops this month. Pick fruit early in the day, while it’s still cool, leaving that still firm to the touch on the trees until fully ripe. Pick and discard any diseased or damaged fruits immediately to reduce the potential spread of diseases.
Some of the very early cropping varieties of apples and pears may be ripe enough to pick from mid-February onwards. Passionfruit will also mature and falling to the ground now, and there may also be good crops of lemons and oranges in some areas. Tropical fruits and citrus are still cropping in warmer areas, and melons are still in season now.
What fruit to plant:
What flowers to plant:
Garden jobs for the month:
- Pick up and dispose of any fruit on the ground under fruit trees – they may be diseased or harbouring insect pests. Discard in the household rubbish – DO NOT put them in the compost bin!
- Tidy up the garden by removing spent flowers and flower spikes from perennials and annuals.
- Dahlias and chrysanthemums may need staking and/or the ties checking to ensure they are not cutting into stems.
- Fortnightly applications of an all purpose fertiliser will keep your garden healthy and growing well.
- Add thick layers of mulch to garden beds to conserve soil moisture, reduce weeds and add nutrients back into the soil.
- Water indoor plants when the top 5cm or soil of potting mix feels dry to the touch. Allow excess water to drain freely from the base of the pot. Don’t leave pots standing in saucers of water.
- Keep the air around indoor plants humid by regularly misting plants with a water atomiser.
- Feed fortnightly with ready to use Osmocote Pour+Feed Indoor Plants – no mixing required. There are also Pour+Feed products for orchids and cacti.
- If indoor plants need repotting, use Osmocote Indoor Plant Mix.
- Make sure the lawn is well watered at least once a week, if local water authorities permit or there’s no rain. The earlier in the day you water, the less risk there is of the sun burning the grass through moisture droplets.
- Watch for thrips and aphids on flowering plants. A pyrethrum spray will control them. Don’t forget to spray the undersides of leaves as well as the top surface.
- If you don’t want to use chemicals, hang yellow sticky traps among plants to attract and catch pests.
- Watch for powdery mildew on roses and other plants including pumpkins and zucchinis, especially when nights are warm and humid. Use a copper-based fungicide to control them.
- Newly planted seedlings may be targeted by snails and slugs. Protect them with Scotts Quash Slug & Snail Killer.