Preparing for Spring
Don’t let the dark days of winter stop you from going outside, as there is plenty of winter gardening that can be done in the Willamette Valley. Evergreens are the anchor plants in the garden right now, they are a source of year-round color and provide privacy if needed. To spruce them up, make a weed sweep around the base and remove dead or broken branches. Apply a layer of bark as mulch (such as one of our Fir or Hemlock Bark Products) around the roots. Make sure it does not touch the bark on the trunk, which might cause it to rot. A generous depth of 2-3 inches around the drip line will work best.
There are many living groundcovers in the form of succulents, perennials, herbs, and natives that offer winter interest. Groundcovers can help hold the soil in place on slopes and can be a living mulch around your other plantings and stone pathways. Tidy these up for winter by raking leaves and debris off the winter greens, which will help in preventing mold and mildew from setting in on leaves and bark. A dusting of bark mulch may be necessary to protect any exposed roots.
Planting and Planning
February is a good month to focus on garden planning and preparing to plant. Bare root fruit trees, vines and shrubs are arriving daily at garden centers. Now is the time to plant these so the roots can establish before the heat of summer kicks in; they can be planted weeks earlier than container trees. Smaller fruits such as strawberries and cane berries can also be planted now as the ground is soft, with plenty of moisture to help establish a good root system. This is a good time to plant new roses; they are available now at most nurseries. Be sure to amend the soil with compost prior to planting bare root trees and shrubs to provide the plant a source of nutrients. Be sure to wait to plant when the temperatures are not expected to dip below freezing.
Seed packets and flower bulbs are also popping up in garden centers, which means it’s time to plot out your garden beds, decided on planting locations, determine companion planting relationships, and look forward to the harvest. Spring blooming bulbs are starting to pop out of the ground. Now would be a good time to mulch around them before they get too big.
The latter part of February is also an excellent time to directly sow radishes, peas, sweet peas, and cold-hardy lettuces/greens seeds. Cold hardy seeds can germinate quickly in cool soil, especially in raised beds. A cold frame can be used to get a jump on spring planting, as they offer a little extra protection for young plants.
We’re excited to announce that Highway Fuel will be carrying evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs beginning in March 2023! Keep an eye on the products section of the website for more details.