February Tips & Events for Santa Clara County
  "The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.” Gertrude S. Wister
Harvesting Oranges
There are beautiful orange dots in green trees all over the valley right now! Make sure to pick your oranges regularly and don’t allow them to remain on the ground to rot or attract critters. Ripe Washington Navel oranges have a uniform deep orange color, are heavy for their size, and yield slightly to pressure. Sample the flavor before mass picking—once you pick the fruit, it doesn't increase in sweetness or ripen more fully. They can be stored for 4–6 weeks in the refrigerator after harvesting. UC Publication: Oranges: Safe Methods to Store, Preserve, and Enjoy
Starting Seeds for Summer Vegetables
Now is a good time to start tomatoes and peppers from seed. They need warmth to germinate so start them indoors, on a plant heating mat if available, or in a sunny greenhouse. Use a light potting soil and cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil or vermiculite. Keep them moist, and make sure they have light once the seeds germinate.

Our vegetable planting chart will tell you when to plant other summer crops. Check it out and be prepared!
Wait to Prune Frost Damage
Cold clear nights can result in frost damage to some plants. The damaged leaves and branches may look ugly, but it’s best to wait to prune them out until after danger of frost has passed. Pruning too early may produce tender new growth that is highly sensitive to later frosts. The average last frost date in our area is March 15.
Lettuce seedlings
Salad Fixings
Most leafy greens can be planted from seed this month. These include kale, arugula, lettuce, spinach, bok choy, and mustard greens. They grow well in cooler weather and do not go to seed as quickly as they would in summer. This is another good reason to check out our vegetable planting chart!
Pruning Woody Shrubs
Later this month, woody shrubs can be cut back to keep them from becoming leggy. Buddleia for example—sometimes called Butterfly Bush—is one of the plants that can benefit from being cut back to one foot from the ground. If the stems seem crowded, older ones can be cut out completely. Blooms will appear on the new wood. Pruning for Woody Landscape Plants from the California Master Gardener Handbook (1st Ed).
Attracting Butterflies
Buddleia is just one of many plants that can attract butterflies to the garden. Other popular choices are Coyote Brush, California Lilac, Lantana, Hyssop, Asters, Rosemary, and Milkweed. See Art Shapiro's Butterfly Site for more details on which varieties and colors are attractive to specific butterflies. Photo: a Western tiger swallowtail sips nectar from a buddleia in the Storer Garden, UC Davis Arboretum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Kung Hei Fat Choi
(Lunar New Year Greetings!) Kumquat trees may bring luck and wealth for the Lunar New Year. They also bring delicious citrus fruits for several months. Kumquats are relatively small and are a good choice for growing in containers. They do best with full sun, loose soil, and frequent fertilization. Nagami and the slightly sweeter Meiwa are popular varieties for our area. For more, the UC Master Gardeners of Solano County have a blog posting about kumquats.
Instead of a bouquet of roses for Valentine’s Day, consider planting a bush that will produce roses for years to come. While many roses have been bred for the color, size and shape of blooms, the most fragrant ones tend to be the older heirloom varieties. You can choose from over a hundred species and thousands of cultivars in the Rosaceae family! There's more information about cultural care and weed control for roses from UC. Image: the UC Davis eight acre rose garden is used for disease testing ( UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Services )
Artichokes can be started from seed, but it is more common to grow them from transplants or root divisions in early spring or late fall. They can tolerate some shade and produce best in cool, moist conditions. (Remember that Castroville is the artichoke capital of the world!) Give them lots of space because the plants can be three to four feet tall and wide. You can eat artichokes in bud form, or allow them to flower. Learn more about growing artichokes from UC. Photo (below): artichoke variations introduced by cross breeding. Source: UC Davis Genome Center 
Drainage Problems?
During the wet weather, take note of places where puddles form in your garden. Those are areas where you may need to increase drainage. Depending on what’s growing there, you may want to amend the soil with compost or even add drainage pipes. But wait until it dries out a bit to work the soil so as not to compact it and damage the soil structure. UC's Good Life Garden blog has more information about how to improve soil drainage.
Find many more monthly gardening tips on our website
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February Events
Sat, Feb 04, 10:00 a.m.–11:30 a.m., Hands-On Rose Pruning Workshop, Palo Alto Demonstration Garden, 851 Center Rd., Palo Alto

Fri, Feb 10, 1:30 p.m.–3:00 p.m., Cold Weather Plant Care, Avenidas, 450 Bryant St., Palo Alto

Sat, Feb 11, 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m., DIY: Drip Irrigation- a Step-by-Step Approach to Installation and Maintenance, Community Room, Mountain View Public Library, 585 Franklin St., Mountain View

Wed, Feb 15, 6:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m., Get to Know the Good Bugs and Use IPM to Outwit the Bad Ones, West Valley Branch Library, 1243 San Tomas Aquino Rd., San Jose

Thu, Feb 16, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m., Grow Your Own Vegetable and Flower Transplants, Palo Alto Rinconada Library, 1213 Newell Rd., Palo Alto

Sat, Feb 18, 2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m., Garden Myths and Garden Science: How to Know What Really Works, Program Room, Sunnyvale Public Library, 665 W. Olive Ave., Sunnyvale

Wed, Feb 22, 6:30 p.m.–8:30 p.m., Sustainable Vegetable Gardening, Guadalupe River Park, 438 Coleman Ave., San Jose

Wed, Feb 22, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m., From Seed to Plant, Los Altos Public Library, 13 S. San Antonio Rd., Los Altos

Wed, Feb 22, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m., Winning the War on Weeds, Campbell Library, 77 Harrison Ave., Campbell

Wed, Feb 22, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m., Growing Vegetables, Flowers, and Herbs from Seed, Gilroy Library, 350 W. Sixth St., Gilroy

Sat, Feb 25, 10:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m., Growing Potatoes and Short-Term Cool-Season Crops, St. Louise Hospital Teaching and Demonstration Garden, 9400 No Name Uno Way, Gilroy

Mon, Feb 27, 7:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m., Beginning Gardening, Cafe, Adult and Community Education Center (Fremont Union High School District Adult School), 591 W. Fremont Ave., Sunnyvale

Tue, Feb 28, 7:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m., Growing Potatoes and Peppers Successfully, 350 W 6th St, 350 W. Sixth St., Gilory

Sat, Apr 08, 9:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m., Spring Garden Market, History Park, 1650 Senter Road, San Jose
Visit the UC Master Gardener Program website  for additional information including an up-to-date list of events and classes .

Have a gardening question? Contact our Hotline (for Santa Clara County residents).Start by reviewing our plant problem diagnosis tips.

  • Mon-Fri 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., 408-282-3105
  • Fri ONLY 1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m., 650-329-1356 (Closed Dec. & Jan.)
  • Or send us your question online

The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Santa Clara County Master Gardener Program volunteers are trained under the auspices of the UCCE. Our mission is to promote sustainable gardening practices by providing up-to-date, research-based horticultural information to home gardeners.

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