Gardening in Cary: February Tips

Cary, NC — Much like January, February can be a tough month to find ways to channel your green thumb as we haven’t reached the last frost date, predicted to be April 6th.

That said, there are a few things you can do to prepare your garden for spring and there are even a few cold-hardy annuals that you might have luck with planting now.

Support Your Garden by Feeding the Birds

It sounds odd at first — help your plants by feeding the birds, but there is good reason for this tip.

Seed-eating birds such as finches and sparrows contribute to a healthy garden by keeping weeds from taking over. These birds can consume great quantities of weed seeds, and in doing so, help gardeners control unwanted plants. When birds are present, it usually eliminates the need for any sort of toxic insecticides or herbicides.

Inspect & Revitalize Those Houseplants

If your house plants haven’t received much TLC lately, a great place to start is wiping the dust off their leaves as dust can actually impede their ability to photosynthesize as efficiently. Also, if humidity seems to be an issue, you might consider adding a pebble tray to the base of the plant or a humidifier to that space if it seems too dry.

We all have that one plant that does a fair share of leaning over. For these, a simple turn to help spread the light around could work wonders on getting it back to good health. Though, if it is a light-sensitive plant, it’s best to move those back from the windows a bit.

February is also a great time to inspect for pests as they are particularly more of an issue in the colder months. When wiping off the leaves of your plants, see if you can spot any signs of gnats, spider mites or mealybugs. Hopefully, there will be no signs of them, but if so, a natural alternative to a pesticide could be neem oil.

Start Seeds to Later Transfer

Take advantage of an early start to 2022 gardening by planting the seeds of flowers and vegetables that benefit from an indoor beginning. Grow lights can be used 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.

It’s always a good rule of thumb to read the seed packs you purchase to find out how many weeks it will take for your plants to develop into the ideal size for the garden. Then, count backward from the last expected frost date in Cary (April 6, 2022) to get an accurate start date.

An Aerogarden is a new favorite in my house for growing herbs through the wintertime. Right now we have basil, a few parsley varieties, and dill growing.

A Few Cool-Weather Plantings for February

One of the advantages of living in the South is that we can plant cool weather vegetables and a few tolerant herbs in February. For vegetable lovers, this could include spinach, peas, greens, onions, potatoes, lettuce, Swiss chard, beets, carrots, and radishes. Those more prone to using fresh herbs could also find success with dill and a variety of parsleys.

Before committing, be sure your garden’s soil is ready for planting. To do this, you can squeeze a handful of soil 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.

Story by Ashley Kairis.

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