Lettuce seedlings ready to be transplanted into the cold frame, and leek seedlings transplanted outside. (Mary Lowther photo)

Lettuce seedlings ready to be transplanted into the cold frame, and leek seedlings transplanted outside. (Mary Lowther photo)

Mary Lowther column: Things to do in the February garden lull

On days when it’s not raining I can tend to the espaliered fruit trees.

By Mary Lowther

Those of us with raised beds can take advantage of getting into our gardens when they’re still soggy from winter rain because raised beds won’t become compacted when the gardener walks in the paths beside them. Leeks I sowed under lights inside can be transplanted outside and broad beans, mustard and corn salad can be sown outside now.

Lettuce grown under lights inside should do well under a cold frame, as should spinach, pak choi and radish when sown under a cold frame or plastic tunnel. I’m preparing the soil a little differently this early. Because my compost harbours hordes of slugs and wood bugs and their eggs, I’m not going to spread compost over the beds to be planted now because that would only encourage them to gorge at my freshly-planted buffet. I’ll wait till it’s drier to spread compost so the sun can dry it out and maybe a few accommodating birds will do their part and chomp up the bugs.

Right now I’ll cut down any cover crop, toss it onto the compost heap and spread organic fertilizer at the rate of four litres per hundred square feet and rake that in lightly. We’ll be eating the transplanted lettuce in a week and as I transplant them now, I’ll sow more seed in flats inside.

The nice thing about this time of year is that there’s not much demand on my time and it’s not too cold outside, so on days when it’s not raining I can tend to the espaliered fruit trees. The awning over the nectarines needs repairing before leaves sprout so they don’t get wet and succumb to peach leaf curl. All the fruit trees need pruning and tying to the wires, and this is a good time to girdle their trunks with Tanglefoot. This dandy stuff stays sticky all summer, preventing all kinds of marauding, crawly things including those clever little ants that carry aphids up to tender new growth where the latter destroy these areas and provide their bosses with honeydew. David calls them squatters.

Aphid infestation causes leaves to curl and damages new growth so fruit won’t grow to its potential. Last year I didn’t get around to smearing on the Tanglefoot so as I saw the leaves curling up, full of aphids, I pruned off the new growth. Evidently the trees weren’t happy with the onslaught because the result was still poor fruit development, especially the cherries. So right now when there aren’t many pressing chores, I’ll get out the Tanglefoot on a dry day. I learned the hard way, as usual, to don a pair of throw away gloves first because there’s no way to avoid smearing oneself with that sticky stuff in the process.

Please contact mary_lowther@yahoo.ca with questions and suggestions since I need all the help I can get.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vees' Jack Barnes picked up his second goal of the season in the team's 5-0 win over Merritt on Saturday. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Cowichan Capitals in deadline dilemma with 20-year-old players

Hard decisions loom when BCHL may or may not resume play

The latest homeless count in the Valley found 129 in a 24-hour period. (File photo)
Latest homeless count reveals 129 in the Cowichan Valley

But local officials believe number is higher

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

An employee at Duncan’s Real Canadian Superstore has tested positive for COVID-19. (Don Bodger/Black Press)
More positive COVID-19 tests reported at Cowichan Superstore

Employees last worked on Feb. 12, 13 and 15.

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
B.C. woman has nothing but praise for Elder Dog Canada

National organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but needs more clients to serve

Most Read