For much of North America, February is a dreary, cold month that occasionally surprises with a mid-month thaw, teasing of warmer days to come . . . only to suddenly turn an icy shoulder and freeze any hopes that spring would be arriving soon.
This isn’t so if you live in sunny SoCal in February! However, despite appearances, it is still winter and your garden should be treated accordingly. Cold snaps can still occur and most plants are growing slowly, waiting for the more consistent warmth in the months ahead to really begin.
This is a good month to get a jump on things to come in your garden! Here are my top 9 Los Angeles gardening tips for February:
> Fertilize Avocados: To do this organically, spread 25 pounds of aged chicken manure under each mature tree. If going with a commercial method, use bagged citrus and avocado food, following directions on the package. For more specific directions, email me.
> Citrus Tree Care: As noted in last month’s Los Angeles gardening tips post, our coastal clay soils mean lots of nitrogen for these heavy feeders, so continue to fertilize this month and every month through to June.
> Control Pests: Check out books such as the Ortho Problem Solver to identify damaging insects and provide solutions to their removal/control. Wash trees by spraying with soapy water and insecticidal soap such as Safer Soap, or a solution of 1-2 tablespoons of dish-washing soap.
> Fertilize Deciduous Fruit Trees: Do this towards the end of the month, when flower buds start to swell, just prior to bloom. Follow package directions and water deeply after application.
> Purchase Clivia: If you have a shady spot in your garden in need of a shot of color, Clivias are a great choice. They bloom best when crowded and can create a very dramatic effect. Plants are in bloom now, so it’s the best best time to select for flower color and size. This is also a great time to select cacti and succulents, as many of these are also in bloom this month.
> Roses: Many bare root varieties are still available this month. Look for easy, disease-resistant names such as French Lace and Angel Face. If you’re looking for a climber, Lady Banks is a consistent winner.
> Weed: Now is the best time to take control of weeds as they are just now beginning to emerge. Pulling them while they are young is an easy chore as opposed to waiting until they are older – they produce very deep and tenacious roots that seem to require a jack hammer to remove!
> Vegetables: If you are lucky enough to have a vegetable garden, this is the month to start seeds in preparation for transplanting when the weather becomes warmer. Winter crops such as Mesclun and bare-root Asparagus can still be planted this month.
> Compost/Vermiculture: Turning your kitchen and garden wastes into a nutrient rich amendment for your garden is incredibly easy with a compost or worm (vermiculture) bin. The city offers workshops and compost/worm bins.
Staying on top of your Los Angeles gardening to-do list, and focusing on monthly tasks, can really help keep your garden vibrant and regularly maintained. What other gardening tips do you recommend for February? Feel free to leave me any questions or comments you might have in the field below!