Late February is not the time for gardeners to recline in their favorite easy chair beside the wood stove. Spring is waiting in the wings and an early start on gardening chores can make the difference between a mediocre and a great harvest of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Here are some of the gardening tasks that will reward you in the future:
Late February and early March is the ideal time to prune grapes, roses, holly bushes, and fruit trees. Prune apple trees by no more than 30 percent to avoid overgrowth of suckers. Peaches and nectarines can be pruned back 70 percent. Cut hybrid-tea roses back by one-third to one-half, leaving canes about 18 inches long. Prune climbing rose canes back to three of four buds.
This is your last chance to use dormant sprays on roses and fruit trees.
As long as they have not sprouted buds, most bushes and deciduous trees may be transplanted at this time of year as long as the soil is not frozen.
Bring out the fertilizer. Fertilize shrubs and evergreens using an acid type rhododendron fertilizer for evergreens, conifers, broad leaf evergreens, rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias. Use an all-purpose fertilizer on roses and other deciduous trees and shrubs.
This is a good time to burn ornamental grasses allowing the new grass shoots room to emerge come warm weather. If clumps are large and near other shrubs and trees that could be scorched by the heat, a good option is to use a chain saw, cutting the grass clumps as close to the ground as possible.
Zone 8 and Above
If you live in zone 8 or higher you may begin rejuvenating your annual flower beds and planting cool season vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, and onions. Plant out cold hardy annuals such as pansies and Icelandic poppies. Begin dividing perennials.