And winter’s over. Did you blink and miss it? There are sure to be a few more chilly mornings and a few more rainstorms, but look outside: the plants are already waking up. February could be considered our first month of spring.

Native plants are well on their way, as acorns germinate into baby live oak trees and wild cucumber, lemonade berry, sugar bush, and manzanita bloom; but also, a couple of my avocado trees already have some open flowers and my blueberries are blooming. By the end of the month, apricots (as pictured above during February 2016), peaches and plums, they’ll all be opening flowers.

February is my favorite month of the year. Yes, my first-born son arrived in February, but I also like this month because I many plants start to bloom and our Southern California landscape briefly glows green with grasses, mustard, filaree — all weeds, but wow do they make this place look lush like Tennessee for a slice of time.

Temperatures are wonderful for afternoon hikes. The air is filled with the freshness of a rain that just passed or the potential of a storm on the way. There’s also the potential of all of those flowers. Will my pluot tree set a lot of fruit? How many blueberries will we get?

Opportunities in the yard

And there are opportunities. We can:

– Sow or plant: artichoke, asparagus, cilantro, parsley, peas, carrots, lettuce, beets, greens (chard, kale, turnip, mustard, collards), green onions, potatoes, spinach

Mustard greens and spinach enjoying a cool February.

– Plant only: brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower)

Clone a grape vine, fig tree, or pomegranate tree by rooting a cutting

– Buy and plant bare-root fruit trees before they get potted up

Graft deciduous fruit trees

– Transplant shoots of your raspberry plants and runners of your strawberry plants

– Collect or redirect any rain we get so it sinks into your yard near your plants and isn’t lost into the street

– Pull weeds at the right time for maximum effectiveness: soon after a rain so the soil is moist, but just before a Santa Ana so you can leave the weeds right there on the ground and the dry air will desiccate and kill it

– Change irrigation on fruit trees as necessary (e.g. from drip lines to mini-sprinklers); do it now before your plants start depending on irrigation in a couple months because the current mild weather and thoroughly moist soil from rains allow plants to most easily adjust to new patterns of soil moisture

Mulch under fruit trees with wood chips; the mulch sort of seals in the soil moisture, and then upcoming rains should soak the mulch for free

Prune deciduous fruit trees and grape vines; it’s easy to see the structure of the bare branches now

– Harvest fresh peas, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, chard, spinach, carrots, strawberries, parsley, cilantro

‘Typhoon’ variety of cabbage harvesting now, sown back in August.

– Harvest Fuerte, Bacon, Zutano, Pinkerton, Sharwil, Ettinger, and Sir-Prize avocados

– Harvest some citrus, such as navel oranges, blood oranges, Cara Cara oranges, Kishu and Satsuma mandarins, and Bearss limes

Bearss limes turning yellow, so juicy and flavorful in February.

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