The Green Thumb: Get children involved in February gardening
by Sue Davis / For the Tracy Press
Jan 31, 2013 | 2383 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With a little planning and a few maintenance chores, you can get a good start on your spring and summer gardens during February.

This month is a good time to get children interested in planting by starting summer vegetable seeds indoors and peas outside.

It’s best to pre-germinate pea seeds on moist paper towels in a warm room for a few days before you sow them. Children can quickly see their seeds start roots and know they are growing before they see the new shoots emerge from the soil.

Plant a few winter-blooming annuals, such as pansies and snapdragons, in your vegetable garden to encourage bees to take a look at the area and to give children a visual cue that their garden efforts are successful.

Would you like to cover a fence with an evergreen, fragrant, floral display? Good choices include yellow-flowered Carolina Jessamine, white-flowered evergreen clematis and violet trumpet vine. These vines will grow from 15 to 20 feet long, so be sure to plant them where they will have the room they need.

Snails will soon begin their yearly trek to munch on your tender, young foliage. In the evenings, children supplied with flashlights can easily find these marauders hiding beneath plants and lumber piles. Pick them off plants and boards, and drown them in a bucket of soapy water.

Camellias will appreciate the removal of old flowers to reduce the chance of petal blight, another task perfect for smaller fingers.

Despite warmer days, it is still winter. Leave freeze-damaged leaves on plants for a couple more weeks to protect and insulate any new growth from a cold snap.

Don’t forget Valentine’s Day. Garden centers should have a nice variety of azaleas, cyclamen, pansies and snapdragons that can be potted to make welcome gifts for the gardeners in your life.

• The Green Thumb is a column by Tracy’s master gardeners. University of California certified master gardeners are available to answer gardening questions from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 953-6112 or mgsanjoaquin@ucdavis.edu.
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