By Elizabeth Warburton-Smith

As we continue to look for a new location for the Rita Ranch Community Garden, we haven’t stopped tending the garden in its current location. There is much to do in February including keeping an eye on the weather as it can be the coldest month of the year.

Plant your spring pepper and tomato seeds now (if you haven’t already) and keep these fragile seedlings protected from the cold until you put them out in the garden. Continue to sow radish and carrot seeds directly into the garden every 2 weeks for a steady harvest throughout winter and spring. Harvest broccoli and cauliflower when the heads are still tight and compact before they go to flower. Harvest winter greens like spinach, lettuce, chards and kales by simply cutting leaves off of the outer diameter of each plant and allowing your plants to continue to grow and produce more leaves. This is called the “Cut and Come Again” method.

Another chore to attend to this month is feeding your citrus. The general rule for established citrus trees is 3 times a year: Valentine’s, Memorial and Labor Day. Follow the directions on your favorite organic citrus food for the amounts needed. For a fun way to automatically feed your citrus trees, watch my video tutorial on How To Build a Compost Ring:

If you have deciduous fruit trees (trees that lose their leaves in winter) now is the time to prune them. Make sure you do this when they are dormant BEFORE they bud out with new flowers and growth. Pruning branches is a whole art in itself but basically keep trees healthy by pruning out any dead or diseased branches and eliminating branches that cross over others or are growing in an unbalanced direction. Consider the weight on the trunk and where the bulk of the branches are heading. Trees will lose large limbs in strong winds if they are leaning too far to one side.

Note: this does NOT apply to citrus trees. They can still be pruned but must be pruned a little at a time, not more than 10 or 20% or they will send up sucker branches which will have large thorns and low-quality fruit if any. My calendar reminds me once a month to check my citrus. If I see a branch “going rogue” and heading off in a direction I don’t want, I simply pinch off the tip of the leaves. This is a good task to do especially in the spring when growth hormones trigger new growth.

Elizabeth Warburton-Smith is the founder of the Rita Ranch Community Garden inspiring others to grow organic food. Elizabeth and her husband Gregory recently opened RitaRitos, a food business selling healthy and delicious wraps highlighting organic and local ingredients. Contact Elizabeth:

About author View all posts

Guest Author