Even in the dead of winter, there's plenty to keep gardeners busy.
Here's a list of chores for January and February compiled from the Midlands Master Gardeners Association Calendar and "Month-by-Month Gardening in the Carolinas" by Clemson's Bob Polomski.
- Start a garden journal.
- Sharpen garden hand tools with a file.
- Organize seed packets to create a sowing schedule.
- Cool-season grasses need an application of a complete fertilizer this month. Check labels before using fertilizers.
- Avoid the spring rush and take soil samples. Your county Clemson Extension Service will test your soil and tell you what it needs.
- You can plant asparagus crowns now through February, and sow chives, basil, fennel, mustard and garden peas.
- Amend the garden with organic matter. Turning over the soil will expose any over-wintering insects or larva.
- Keep pansies deadheaded.
- Mulch strawberry plants with pine straw.
- Plant and transplant ornamentals. Keep mature size and shape in mind.
- Avoid pruning trees and shrubs that seem damaged by sudden frost. Wait until the plants bud; then remove the full extent of damage.
- Water outdoor plants well a few days before the arrival of cold fronts, but not just before.
- After a hard freeze, pinch back damaged buds and flowers on winter annuals to promote lush and continuous growth.
- Remove spent camellia blooms to prevent petal blight.
- Prune muscadine and bunch grapes. Attach them to wire supports.
- Turn over the soil in vegetable beds to expose insects.
- Apply fertilizer to rye grass.
- Plant bare-root deciduous shrubs while they're dormant, about a month before the last average freeze.
- Apply a pre-emergent herbicide to control summer annual weeds. The temperature is warm enough for application when forsythia and dogwood bloom. Continue to remove winter weeds.
- Follow soil-test recommendations for the proper amendments to your soil and the plants you wish to grow.
- Set out bare-root roses.
- Start seeds for spring annuals indoors.
- Continue to feed pansies every 10 to 14 days with liquid fertilizer. Fertilize perennials now to supply nutrients. Feed iris with bone meal. Avoid getting fertilizers directly on foliage.
- Prune stone fruits.
- Prune rose bushes, except spring-blooming climbers.
- Begin heavy pruning.
- Do not prune spring-blooming vines or plants. Wait until their flowering is over.
- Megan Sexton