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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Feb 12

The Hook

Posted on February 12, 2016 at 9:26 AM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

As long as I can remember, February has set out a hook. Unlike the fishing hook covered in worms, power bait, or crafted fly ties, this hook is disguised as balmy sunny days that draw us all out into the garden and lead us to believe that the cold, dreary, wet (but welcomed) days are behind us.

The hook inclines us to tempt fate by picking up annual color, indulgent purchases of frost-tender plants, and any vegetable start we can find at this time of year. After all, the proverbial groundhog said we would have an early spring. Why not get a jump on the summer garden now?

Happy Honey and Shiloh
Happy Honey and Shiloh. Many gardeners feel similarly on sunny February days.
Like one of my horses out of control, I, too, must pull back hard on those internal reins and reason that there is a whole lot of work to do in the garden before catering to these indulgences and temptations.

If you are feeling that tug, take a walk in the garden. Is the pruning complete? Did you sharpen, clean, and oil the tools used? Have you worked several inches of manure or compost into the planting beds? Does the compost pile need to be turned, or as in my case, moved due to lack of sunlight? With all the rain in January, are there puddles collecting water that need to be directed away from the house? Perhaps this is the time to consider a rain garden in that spot.

Though it's too early to turn on the irrigation system, it's not too early to tackle needed repairs. Has the system been checked for earwigs invading tiny crevices, which can block or misdirect spray? And speaking of misdirected spray, have you checked to see that the sprinkler heads are still aligned to avoid overspray when we begin to irrigate again? When is the last time the controller back-up battery was replaced (if your controller comes equipped with such)?

Bareroot raspberries planted
Bare-root raspberries planted into
nursery pots

Let's face it: If plants and gardening are your weaknesses, you may still be hooked into walking through a local nursery while the sun shines and temperatures rise. If I can't stay away, the compromise for me is picking up some bare-root plants. All types of berries, trees, and perennial edibles such as artichokes, rhubarb, asparagus, and horseradish should be in good supply now. The 2016 seeds are available to start indoors if you just need to get your hands in the soil! Just resist the temptation of taking a bite of that bait for summer splendor before winter has passed.


Scott Stokes
February 12, 2016 at 12:10 PM
I think I was a bad boy. I have an EDYN garden senser (still waiting for their wireless valve). It noted that the soil was getting dry, so I decided during this longish dry spell to do the miracle grow water/fertilize thing. All the Dafs are up and hardenbergia is blooming and a buzz with bees. Was I a bad boy to fertilize?
Charlene Burgi
February 12, 2016 at 2:09 PM
A single mid-winter fertilizing is perfectly acceptable. It is best to use a 0-10-10 since you do not want to promote top growth during dormant season. Enjoy your beautiful flowers!!!

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