Published on 02/01/18

Prepare now for a lush, weed-free lawn and healthy spring garden plot filled with vegetables.

By Mary Carol Sheffield

February is here and, even though it is cold outside, many garden tasks can be completed now in preparation for a successful growing season. You may be asking yourself, “What can I do right now that won’t be affected by freezing temperatures?”

There are many things that you can do this month. Consider some of these suggestions from University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.

Test your soil.

As you look ahead to future projects and maintenance, don’t forget to test your soil. A soil test provides an analysis of nutrients in the soil and measures the pH of the soil, which impacts the availability of soil nutrients. A written report provides recommendations for the amount of fertilizer needed for a specific crop or lawn. Follow these recommendations to create the ideal soil for your spring garden.

Start seeds now.

Order seeds now and begin collecting supplies to start seeds for your spring vegetable garden. You can start seeds for lettuce, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, lima beans, cucumbers and squash inside, then plant them outside after the chance of frost has passed. Don’t plant seeds outside until then!

Plan to fight lawn weeds.

Summer lawn weeds, like crabgrass, dandelions and spurge, can be prevented by pre-emergence herbicides. These herbicides are applied to lawns prior to the germination of weed seeds. They control weeds during the germination process, but do not actually prevent germination. Apply these herbicides between Feb. 15 and March 15. Pre-emergence herbicides are recommended only for turfgrasses that have been established for at least a year.

Compost leaves.

If you have a lot of leaves on the ground, shred them and add them to your garden as mulch or work them into the soil to improve the organic matter. Leaves that have not been shredded are best added to your compost pile to provide carbon, or “brown,” material. If they haven’t been shredded, leaves tend to form a mat and don’t break down as quickly. 

Inspect and repair tools.

Inspect shovels, pruners and other hand tools. Do you see rotting or cracking on handles? If handles have started to crack or turn gray, sand them down and apply a coat of marine or outdoor varnish to preserve the life of the handle.

Is the shovelhead showing wear? Remove caked-on dirt with a wire brush and rinse and dry tools thoroughly. Take the time now to clean, sharpen and repair your garden tools. You will be glad you did when spring garden season arrives.

Proper storage of gardening tools will extend their life. Keep tools out of the weather and in a shed or garage in organized spaces. This will save you a lot of frustration when it comes time to use them and can help you maximize storage space. 

There’s much to do in the garden at this time of the year. Get started before spring arrives.

Mary Carol Sheffield is the UGA Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources agent in Paulding County.

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