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Mountain West Regional Reports

Mountain West: February Garden To-Do List

Now is a great time to explore the gardening events our region has to offer. Photo: Danielle Sherry

Sign up for gardening classes and workshops. Whether you’re looking for inspiration or direct how-to knowledge, February is the time to sign up for classes and workshops throughout the region. Local nurseries, garden clubs, and master gardeners at their regional public gardens offer classes of all types and for all skill levels. Some places to check include:

cleaning garden tools
Clean, oil, and sharpen your tools so that they’ll perform well this season. Photo: Michelle Provaznik

Clean and sharpen your garden tools. If you didn’t clean and properly store your tools at the end of the season, now is the time to do so. Take advantage of a warm, sunny day to clean shovels, hoes, rakes, and other tools. Use a garden hose and wire brush to remove any debris. You can disinfect with a diluted bleach solution. If your tool has a wood handle, rub it with linseed oil. For pruners, snips, and loppers, use WD-40 and steel wool to clean off debris and sap. Then use a sharpening file or stone—filing at about a 30° angle. Store all tools in a dry location out of the elements. You will be thrilled you took the time to take care of your tools on your first day of spring cleanup!

seed packets
Check your old seeds for germination rates. Photo: Michelle Provaznik

Take stock of seeds. Before ordering new seeds, inventory your current supply. Be sure to check the “packed for” date. If seeds are more than a couple of years old, check the germination rate by placing a few seeds in a damp paper towel for a few days to see what sprouts. If the germination rate is low, plan to overseed or buy new seeds.

garden supplies
Make sure you have necessary supplies before the gardening season gets in full swing. Photo: Jason Jorgensen

Make sure you have enough supplies for the spring. While you are in planning mode, check your amounts of other garden supplies as well. You may need more of your favorite organic fertilizer for the veggie garden, or you may have forgotten that you used the last of the twine, or you may need additional plant supports for the new plants you added in the fall. Create your list now so you have everything on hand when the season kicks into high gear.

black-capped chickadee
Birds that overwinter in our region, like this black-capped chickadee, may need some extra help staying fed until spring. Photo: David Ellis, USFWS

Feed our feathered friends. Recent studies have reported a drastic decline in bird populations across North America. It has been a snowy year at lower elevations in the Mountain West, and many seed sources in the garden have been covered by snow for several weeks. Now is the time to help out birds that overwinter with us by providing additional seed. For more information on feeding birds in our region, visit Audubon Rockies or Bird Conservancy of the Rockies.

houseplant begonias
Visit the greenhouse at your local nursery to find a new houseplant that’ll cheer up your winter days. Photo: Diana Koehm

Buy new houseplants. Visit your local nurseries that got new deliveries of houseplants in early winter. The earthy smell and humidity in their greenhouses is a balm for cold, windy winter days. Taking home a new houseplant will add new life to your house while reminding you that spring is coming.

—Michelle Provaznik is executive director of the Gardens on Spring Creek in Fort Collins, Colorado.

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