Start Preparing for the Spring Growing Season
by Don Janssen, Extension Educator
Now is the time to prepare
for starting your transplants
February arrives on Wednesday. While not thought of as a gardening month, February can include a few yard and garden activities. Outdoors, anything is weather permitting, but there are things to do inside in anticipation of spring and the 2006 growing season.
If the weather is acceptable, February starts the process of pruning apple trees. Apples should be pruned on a regular basis to keep them productive, and February through early April is a good time to do it. Other trees and shrubs can be pruned, but be careful. Don't prune spring blooming shrubs, such as forsythia or lilac, because flower buds were formed last season. Cut them off and the shrubs will not produce flowers this spring. Likewise, avoid pruning maples and elms until early summer.
Another good activity outdoors in February is to scout around the yard, looking for problems that may be corrected by pruning. For example, look for branches that are broken, crossing each other, too low, or growing into buildings or other undesirable areas. As weather conditions get warmer, these limbs can be removed.
If you have not already started, February is a time for planning your 2006 vegetable garden. Draw up a plan of the garden space and allocate appropriate space for all the vegetables you plan to grow. When ordering specific vegetables, look for disease resistant varieties. These selections may produce a crop even if conditions are favorable for destructive diseases.
February is also a good time for preparing to grow vegetable and flower transplants indoors. Basics include a good growing medium, adequate lighting, and warm temperatures. An advantage of growing your own transplants may be a wider selection of cultivars than purchasing transplants later this spring.
However, growing your own requires suitable conditions and space, proper timing to assure transplants are ready for outdoors at the right time, and regular maintenance. After weighing all these factors, purchasing transplants later this spring may be wiser for many gardeners.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County is your on-line yard and garden educational resource. The information on this Web site is valid for residents of southeastern Nebraska. It may or may not apply in your area. If you live outside southeastern Nebraska, visit your local Extension office