This weather is killing us. We all want to dig in and plant. But, high on today's chore list is wait. The weather is too fickle in Western North Carolina to trust these warm, spring-like days for long. The cold will return. Still, even though you can't plant your tomatoes now, February is the month to start cool season veggies indoors and out. Read below for more information.
Side Track First: Plant zone Hardiness For your area
A refresher, or for you beginners, a teaching moment: Asheville is Zone 7a. Western North Carolina, depending on elevation, can fluctuate from Zone 7a (downtown Asheville) to 5b (areas of Boone). The higher the elevation the lower the number. Using the interactive component of the map, type in your zip code, and find out exactly what zone you garden in.
(The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones.)
First, here's a downloadable pdf/brochure of what to plant when in Western North Carolina. Next, do yourself a big favor by prepping your beds now. Begin by getting a soil test to determine what your soil needs nutritionally. Here's how to do that. We carry small soil sample kits, if you don't you think you don't need the full analysis. Add amendments to your garden space as suggested by the soil test. Amendments can be confusing, so ask staff to help you decide which product your garden needs. We carry several that will improve soil quality.
Okay, here's some cool season veggies you can start with:
- Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower plants can be started indoors now, as in, this week. Please read here about starting seeds inside.
- Plant English peas, onions, Irish potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, kale, turnips, and carrots outdoors the last week of February.
- You can fertilize trees, shrubs and emerging bulbs in February or March.
- Cool season lawns can be fertilized so long as your zone is 7a. Higher elevation folks need to wait until closer to, or during the month of, March.
Pruning is a Feb/March chore. We will have two pruning seminars in early March. Check the store's calendar for details. We advertise seminars via email, if you want to sign up, here. It'll be posted and advertised soon.
- Prune fruiting trees, bushes and vines.
- Prune summer blooming shrubs such as 'Limelight' hydrangeas (hydrangea paniculata), crape myrtles, butterfly bush and rose of sharon. Do not prune hydrangea macrophyllas that bloom on old wood.
- Spring blooming shrubs like azaleas, and rhododendrons are not pruned until after blooming (but before July 4th).
Rule of thumb: Spring blooming flowers transplant in fall. Fall blooming flowers transplant in spring. But what about those Shasta daisies that bloom in summer? Transplant them now or early spring. You do have to see the plant to transplant it, so don't be too overzealous. Wait until you can see the green leaves emerging.
Now is a great time for mulching if your landscape needs it, before perennials are poking up and making it difficult to mulch around. Tips on mulching.
- Attend seminars to grow your gardening IQ. We offer them through-out the season, on a monthly basis. Check here to see what fits your needs.
- Clean out blue bird boxes.
- Wash out bird feeders.
- Sharpen tools. Get on our email for information on seminars and tool sharpening events.
- Do any repairs that you can now, like fences, patios, or those things that need your attention but you'll want to ignore later for planting!
Remember only 42 days until Spring!
Written by Cinthia Milner, garden coach, blog writer, outside sales staff.
BB Barns serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina, and Tennessee.