February in the Herb Garden

february garden

February has 28 days this year. Mild, even warm days can be followed by spells of bone-chilling temperatures and heavy snow. Protect tender herb shoots that may emerge this month.

A one or two inch layer of finished compost or well-rotted leaf mold can be applied to the herb beds. A favorite soil conditioner of mine is rabbit chow. High in nitrogen and trace elements, it’s the perfect mulch and soil conditioner all in one. I buy it in 25 pound bags and sprinkle it around the chives, lemon balm, rosemary, roses and sage. Just a thin layer, 1/2 pound per plant is more than enough. The rabbit chow will slowly break down over the next 6 to 8 weeks, not only giving the herb plants protection again soil-heaving, but also feeding them as well.

Avoid walking on wet soil as this causes compaction and may damage the soil structure. Unless herbs are growing in raised beds or garden beds, wait until the soil is drier before working in it.

Time to check container grown herbs. Some may need a top dressing of high quality potting soil. Add a thin layer on the top of each plant and smooth it out to the rim of the pots or planters.

In the deep south, herb seeds may be started at the end of the month. Sow them in flats or peat cups in the greenhouse, cold frame or a sunny window. Parsley, sage, chives, dill and chervil are good choices.

Wash and rinse all planters, pots and containers in hot soapy water and air dry them before potting up any new herb plants.

Polish garden tools with a soft cloth. Remove rust spots with olive oil. Add a few drops to a soft cloth and buff out the rust.

Delay any prunings until the days are milder. Gently sweep herbs plants with a broom to remove snow.

Order seeds this month from garden catalogs. Allow time for orders to be filled. 4 to 6 weeks for delivery is normal.

~ Meadow Walker

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