I am finding February in Arkansas is unpredictable . I live in zone 7b. The first year here we had several warmer days. We spent so much time outside cleaning, pruning and even planting a few things. Then last year we had days and days of rain. Who knows what will happen this year but either way there is always something that needs done, rain or shine.
The priority in February for us is pruning. It is best to prune trees and bushes after the coldest days are past. Now finding that perfect time is just about impossible in Arkansas. Given that mid January we had 68 degree temps and a week later we have freezing temps at night. I like to get the majority of it done before spring because of how busy things can get.
This year our fig trees our already budding. Thank goodness our fig trees don’t need pruned this year. Our muscadine’s do though. They need pruned every year. It encourages growth and keeps them from overtaking my blueberry bushes. However, we can have freezing temps as late as April. There is just too much to be done once Spring arrives.
If you are looking to propagate a few of your trees or bushes this is a good time to take some of your pruned limbs and use them to increase your orchard or simply give your home a few extra fruit bearing trees. I have never done this before but will be giving it a try this year. A friend told me it would be very easy to do. I don’t know about that, however, I am willing to give it a try. He said I needed to take a cutting from my tree’s or bush and simply put it in the ground. Now that seems a little too simplistic to me but so far my research is saying it can be just that easy but it can be hit and miss. The key is to be patient. What I am finding is that generally this is done in the Fall. He says I can do it now. My thought is it doesn’t cost me anything to give it a try. I will have to let you know if it works or not. I will do my best to document my process so that if it is a success I will have the information to share with you.
What to prune:
- fruit trees
- ornamental trees
- muscadine or other grape vines
I like to utilize the small greenhouse we have to get things started early. It protects my seedlings from the wind and cold temps. I put a heat lamp in it for the cold nights and extended colder days. It has been maintaining approximately 50 degree temp inside. This year I have decided to have a much smaller personal vegetable garden. I am going to use the greenhouse for it. Cool season vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kale, lettuce, onions, garlic can be started. I already started from seed spinach, carrots, lettuce and some garlic in the greenhouse.
SOW EARLY SPRING CROPS
I will be starting from seed new plants every couple weeks as we get closer to Spring. By the end of February you will want to get all your seeds started for April planting. Most seeds take 45-90 days from seed to harvest and you want to be sure they are large enough before putting them in your garden. I like to start the seeds that have a longer growing period first.
Some cool weather crops:
- onions, garlic
Whatever leaves you have left you will want to get into your compost bins. Leaves are the best and often your most abundant resource. It is also the easiest to obtain after all what your own trees have left you is significant and then there is what your neighbors are probably bagging up and making it incredibly convenient for you to get from them. We are fortunate enough to have a local lawn care guy our neighbor uses that brings us all the leaves he cleans from our neighbors property.
You will want to check your flower beds for any plants that may have heaved. Check for any damage to any plants and trees from animals. Replace mulch to give your decorative beds a fresh look. Mulch will also help keep weeds under control and improve water retention. We have so many pine trees that drop their needles that we use the pine needles. Our grape arbor gets pine needles and several of your flower beds. This saves us a great deal of money. Always utilize the natural resources you have on hand. It’s free and what is better than free.
Now is the time to plant bulbs like Lilly’s, Tulips, and bare root roses. My mother lives across the street and planted 160 tulips in her front yard among the tree line. I can’t wait to see how beautiful it will be. It is also a good time to divide perennials. I have a few I will be dividing this year.