Garden Gossip

February, 2017

Welcome to our garden! We’re proud of our hard work and want to share the reward with you, so here is
what’s going on in the garden this month..Central Alabama

Chill Hours

This winter has been a good one for the high chilling apple, pear and peach trees. As of February 1, we have recieved 1000 chill hours. A dramatic change from last year. There should be a bountiful crop of fruit this year barring any late season freezes.



Spraying Fruit Plants

As of this date all your fruit plants should have had at least one dormant oil spray.

Knowing what to spray and when to spray can be very confusing. We have put together spray kits for Apples and Pears and one for Stone Fruit which includes everything you need to keep your trees healthy. If you are using the organic approach we have one for you too.

If you are having a problem with white fly or other insects you can spray Malathion oil at anytime. Imidacloprid is especially effective on white fly. The plant can be drenched with it and it is absorbed into the root system. It is fine for citrus at this time of year. If there is fruit on the trees you have to wait 30 days before eating the fruit.

Copper sprays can be important for early disease control and are generally applied in February and March near early bud break through petal fall. It is applied every two weeks at the rate of 2 tablespoons per gallon of water at budbreak, 1 tablespoon per gallon of water two weeks later and then 1/2 tablespoon to 1 gallon of water through petal fall. Trees should not be sprayed after there is dime size fruit on the tree.

We use copper sprays on apples, pears, blackberries and sometimes on muscadines to reduce disease carry over.


When dormant oil or copper sprays are being applied, always separate the different sprays by 2 to 3 weeks. During winter there are certain precautions gardeners should follow to minimize potential problems with fruit plants.  For example, don’t apply pesticides (especially oil sprays), do any pruning (especially severe) or do any planting within 48 hours of a hard freeze (temperatures below 32 degrees F).  Not following these rules can result in loss of fruit buds, branch damage or complete plant loss.

Fire blight can be a problem on apples and pears. The best time to spray your trees for this disease is during bloom. Spray every 10 days with Streptomycin, sold as Fire Blight spray, to control this very damaging bacterial disease.

For the organic gardener who wants to control Fire Blight without the use of antibiotics, Serenade is suggested. It contains Bacillis subtillis a soil dwelling bacterium that controls leaf blight, black mold, powdery mildew and many other diseases.

To control cork spot and bitter pit in apples and pears, Dr. Powell adds 2 to 3 tablespoons of calcium nitrate to all of the sprays that he puts on these fruits trees

Conventional Spray Kit

This is our Conventional spray kit with everything you will need to spray your fruit plants

Organic Spray Kit

This is our Organic Spray Kit. Everything is included to take the guessing out of what to spray

Seeding Tomatoes

Start planting your tomato seed this month. Our selection of tomato seed is excellent. We have many heirloom selections as well as the newer varieties.

Sow the seeds in flats indoors or in a greenhouse in a sterile soil mix, such as Pro-mix or Fafard. Make furrows with a pencil about 1/8″ deep in the damp soil mix and drop seeds in. Cover with the soil, making sure that the seeds make direct contact with the soil. Place the container in a warm place about 75 to 80 degrees. Germination should take place in 5 to 10 days. As soon as the seeds emerge it is important to provide very strong light such as a very sunny window or florescent bulb. Once the true leaves have emerged it is time to transplant the tomatoes to a larger container. When the weather has warmed up and the night temperatures are above 55 degrees it is time to set out your plants. Harden off your seedlings by moving them out in the sun for a couple of hours at first and gradually increasing the time over a week so they are in full sun.

Chef's Choice Tomato

Chef’s Choice Tomato

I always put a little pulverized lime in the hole when planting the tomatoes in the garden. This helps prevent blossom end rot.

If starting your plants from seed isn’t your thing, we are offering several varieties of tomato plants this year. Our plants will be ready for sale about the middle of March.

Just a litte recap of the alphabetical letters after the tomato variety. The more letters the more disease resistance.

VFN- Resistant to Verticillium Wilt, Fusarium and Nematodes
A – Alternaria Stem Canker
LB – Late Blight
TSWV – Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus
N – Nematodes
FF – Fusarium Wilt (Races 1 & 2)
FFF – Fusarium Wilt (Races 0,1 & 2)
St – Stemphylium (Gray Leaf Spot)
TMV – Tobacco Mosaic Virus


Mid-February we can begin to fertilize blueberries and pecans. For the pecans and nut trees use a fertilizer with zinc and also one that has all the micro-nutrients for a good crop of nuts. Many garden centers and farm supply stores carry this fertilizer in 40 or 50 pound bags. For adult trees, the application of the 10-10-10 fertilizer should be 4 lbs. for each inch of pecan trunk diameter. The fertilizer should be broadcast applied, beginning 3 feet from the trunk and extending just past the canopy. At Petals we use Fertilome Citrus, Pecan and Fruit Tree fertilizer.

Blueberries should be fertilized about the middle of February also. We use Growers Special which is a 12-6-6 fertilizer that was formulated for blueberries. Always use ammonium forms of nitrogen such as urea, ammonium sulfate or ammonium phosphate and avoid fertilizers that contain more than 10% of nitrogen in nitrate form. Three applications are ideal during the first two years. Use 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons per plant and double these amounts the second year. Beginning the third year apply 5 or 6 oz. per plant. Fertilization should increase annually by 2 ounces per plant (1/4 cup) until an annual rate of 14 to 16 ounces per plant is reached. Ph of the soil should be maintained at 4.5 to 5.5.

Wait to fertilize your blackberries until March.

Muscadines can be fertilized with 13-13-13 usually about 1/2 to 1 cup per vine in late February and again in April for new plantings. Older gardens can use 3 to 4 pounds per vine of 19-5-10 in late February.


Cl. Clothilde Soupert


Roses should also be pruned in February. Repeat flowering roses may be pruned by 1/3 into a vase shape. Roses that only flower in the spring should not be pruned now but after they finish flowering. Spring flowering climbing roses should only have the stray canes cut back. Save the major pruning until they finish flowering. When you are finished fertilize all roses with rose food. I use the rose food with the systemic insecticide in it to kill all the aphids that are waiting on the nice tender new foliage.

Prune crepe myrtles, Lilac Chaste trees and pomegranates as well as other summer flowering shrubs such as summer flowering spireas, Annabelle, Peegee and Limelight hydrangeas and abelias.

Muscadines should also be pruned this month. Begin pruning about mid February. Cut back all shoot growth of the previous summer to spurs with 3-4 buds. It is a good idea to remove old fruit stems since they are a source of disease. Remove the tendrils that wrap about the arms or spurs since they girdle the plant and reduce production.


All ornamental grasses should be cut back now. That includes Pampas Grass, Miscanthus, Pink Mulhy Grass and Zebra Grass. They should be cut back all the way to the ground. This cleans up the area and gets rid of the old grass and blooms. Pampas Grass is very hard to cut back because the blades of grass are very sharp. Often this grass is just burned down to the ground.

While not totally necessary, you can give your grasses a little fertilizer now to promote some new growth

Remove the blooms from under camellias to help prevent petal blight. Prune boxwoods if needed. Open up from the inside to allow air circulation and light. Although most needled evergreens do not require regular pruning, if yours is getting out of hand now would be a good time to prune. Prune hollies and cotoneasters now. Give them some fertilizer when you are through.
This past summer there seems to have been an out break of stink bugs. I am still finding them overwintering in my house and on my window screens even though we have had a cold winter. While they are not harmful to humans I really don’t want them in my home.

There are several natural ways to repel Stink Bugs. You can mix 2 cups of water with 4 teaspoons of garlic powder, or 10 drops of mint oil and place the solution in a spray bottle and spray entryways and hideouts. The strong odor will keep the bugs away but will not kill them.

In the garden, a trap crop of sorghum or okra, hand picking or insect netting. Insecticidal oil, pyrethrim or kaolin clay (repellent) will work.

Stink Bug

Has all this cold weather got you down? Why not clip a few branches of flowering quince, forsythia, pussy willow or any woody shrub for that matter and place them in a vase with water.Place your containers out of direct sunlight. In a couple weeks they will bloom and chase those blues away.

Forcing Blooms

Lawn Care

February is a great month to get your lawn in shape. You can use both organic and or synthetic approaches to achieve this goal. Build your soil. Adjust the ph of your soil with an application of lime. based on a soil test. If you have not had a soil test this would be a great month to do so. Spread a thin layer of composted cow manure such as Black Kow and rake it in. Get rid of those pesky winter weeds by either hand removing, spraying with a mixture of vinegar and clove oil or spray with a contact herbicide such as “Trimec” or 2-4-D to handle broad leaf weeds.

To prevent new weeds apply either granular form of pre-emergent herbicide such as corn gluten on to any type of warm season turf grass or spray with a pre-emergent such as “Weed Impede” on top of your bermuda or zoysia grass.