Prepping for Spring by Mike Darcy

I like to refer to February as the month to get ready for spring. Most of us have some garden tasks that we have yet to complete, and this is a good time to get them done. Living in the Pacific Northwest, this winter has been a mix of temperatures, both mild and very cold, (for us). In late January/early February, temperatures dipped into the low 20’s and we will have to wait until spring to really discover what damage was done to our plants.

Years ago, I was given a Musa basjoo, often called ‘Hardy Banana’ because the tops will die to the ground after a freeze, but the roots will survive, and new banana shoots appear in the spring. Musa basjoo is fast-growing and likes a soil rich in humus. When planting, add Black Gold Natural & Organic Compost Blend into the soil.

Photo above, is what my plants looked like after a frost. This was a major winter cleanup chore because I cut all the stalks to ground level and then put the leaves in my compost bin. This is a rather barren spot right now, but I know what it will look like in late spring and summer.

Hardy fuchsias are treated differently. I have found that after freezing weather, the leaves on hardy fuchsias all turn brown and the stems look as though they are dead. However, it is difficult to tell just how far back the stems have been killed. If hardy fuchsias need to be pruned because of space considerations, I suggest waiting until later in the season because I have often found that on many of the stems that I thought were dead, new shoots will appear.

While it is too late to plant bulbs of Galanthus, well known by their name ‘Snowdrop’, some garden centers will carry pots of blooming plants which can be planted now. Bulbs should be planted in the fall. These are among the first bulbs to bloom in late winter/early spring. Plant them in an area where they can naturalize such as under a shrub or in a woodland setting. They like a moist soil and adding Black Gold Natural & Organic Garden Compost Blend at time of planting would be a benefit.

We should also think about what, I would call some of the more mundane tasks. Before pruning, check pruners and make sure they are sharp and well oiled. Shovels, rakes, and trowels should be cleaned. February is also a good month to get the lawn mower tuned up, so it is ready to mow once spring arrives.

While the February weather is not always ideal for working outside, we usually have some days, or partial days, when there are sun breaks. As you walk around your garden, when you see new growth emerging, check for signs of slug damage. I have seen many very small slugs in the garden, and they can do significant damage on newly emerged plants. Take appropriate control measures.


The garden is meant to be enjoyed, don’t let the tasks overwhelm you!


Happy gardening!

About Mike Darcy

Mike lives and gardens in a suburb of Portland, Oregon where he has resided since 1969. He grew in up Tucson, Arizona where he worked at a small retail nursery during his high school and college years. He received his formal education at the University of Arizona where he was awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree in Horticulture, and though he values his formal education, he values his field-experience more. It is hard to beat the ‘hands on’ experience of actually gardening, visiting gardens, and sharing information with other gardeners. Mike has been involved with gardening communications throughout his adult life. In addition to garden writing, he has done television gardening shows in Portland, and for over 30 years he hosted a Saturday radio talk show in Portland. Now he writes, speaks, gardens and continues to share his love of gardening. To be connected to the gardening industry is a bonus in life for Mike. He has found gardeners to be among the friendliest and most caring, generous people. Consequently, many of his friends he has met through gardening.

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