Staying on Task in the Garden

— Written By

Even though it’s cold outside, the garden needs tending. Winter days that are not so cold are perfect for working in the yard. Below are some things that will keep your yard and garden healthy.


  • Order flower and vegetable seeds.
  • Prepare a spot in the vegetable garden for February vegetables like English peas, cabbage, carrots, onions, Irish potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, spinach and turnips.
  • If starting transplants, sow broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower seeds inside the house in early February.
  • Plant English peas, onions, Irish potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, turnips, and carrots in February.
  • Plant asparagus crowns when soil is dry enough to work.


  • Use wood ashes on your vegetable garden, bulb beds and non-acid loving plants.


  • Prune all fruit trees (apple, cherry, nectarine, peach, pear and plum) and grapevines.
  • When pruning apple and pear trees that are infected with fire blight, cut 8-10” below blackened wood. Sanitize pruners between cuts with a 1:10 bleach to water solution or Lysol.
  • Ornamental grasses, like muhly grass and fountain grass, should be cut down to the ground.
  • Prune summer-flowering plants, like crape myrtle, rose of Sharon, and butterfly bush. Spring-flowering plants, like spirea, forsythia, and some azalea should be pruned as soon as possible after they finish flowering.
  • Prune crossing, dead, or diseased branches from ornamental trees.

 Pest Management

  • After pruning, apply dormant oil to fruit trees to smother certain overwintering insects.

 Specific Chores

  • Send in soil samples from your plant beds and vegetable garden for analysis. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture tests soil for $4 per sample. Soil sent in this month will be back in time to plant the garden in the spring. Kits are available at the Caldwell Extension Center.
  • Add fallen leaves to your compost bin.
  • Till compost into your vegetable garden soil.
  • Hardwood cuttings of certain landscape plants like forsythia, quince, weigela, crepe myrtle, juniper, spirea and hydrangea can be taken this month.
  • Spring-flowering bulbs can be forced to flower indoors in the dead of winter. Plant the bulbs in pots and place inside your refrigerator. In twelve weeks, take them out. Flowers will bloom in a few weeks.

For questions to your gardening questions, contact the Caldwell Extension office by calling 828-757-1290 or visit