Four things to do in February
In February winter is at its zenith, with the ground frozen solid and the garden fast asleep with a deep layer of snow like a blanket over it. Mostly, this time of year is about planning for the coming season and reviewing last years triumphs and tribulations. February is such a short month it whizzes by in a jiffy, but there are still some things that need to be done at this time of year.
1. Keep an eye out for mice
I love most animals, but even I have a limit to my hospitality. Each year in winter there are a few weeks when we need to go on a mouse hunt, as unfortunately it isn't possible to cohabit with these little buggers in a civilised manner. And trust me, I have tried. Unfortunately they multiply excessively, and the damage they do far outweighs even my patience. They enter the larder through some invisible hole, and nibble away at any dry goods they can get their little teeth in. They pee allover the place, and build nests in sofas and sock drawers. And if you are unlucky - like a friend of mine was - they can even give you life threatening illness as they spread mouse plague or bank vole virus through their droppings. The virus, called Nephropathia epidemica, is a type of viral haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome that causes fever, abdominal pain, headache, back pain and gastrointestinal symptoms. Worst of all, it can affects the kidneys and if not treated cause long term damage. Luckily it is treatable, but nevertheless it is no walk in the park and best avoided. Consequently, each winter I do with a heavy heart evict the mice from my house.
2. Look after the forrest
If I have an area that needs logging I like to do it during the coldest weeks of the year. Firstly, I am a bit pedantic with the mark left in nature after logging, and when using big and heavy logging equipment the tracks left behind are much more invasive if the ground is soft and the machinery sinks deep into the ground than if it is frozen. Of course, no clearcut area is ever pretty, but sometimes it is necessary to renew parts of the forrest and at such times I prefer to do it as gracefully as possibly. Secondly, winter is the time when the trees have least moisture in them which ensures better quality firewood and timber. This may sound like old folklore but nevertheless, it actually works. So this winter I am very happy that we had a cold snap in mid February, as there was an area that needed attention and we got the work done just in time before spring came around the corner.
3. Order seeds
As soon as the light returns towards the end of February I can't help but start dreaming about the coming season in my vegetable patch, although I know it is a good three months until planting time. It usually begins with an innocent look at other gardening bloggs, where my fellow gardeners are enthusiastically getting ready to sow seeds indoors or plan planting in the cold frames. Then I might read an article in a gardening magazine, and away with the fairies goes my imagination... Like a true shopaholic I start stalking my favourite seed provider (currently Runåbergs Fröer as they provide organically grown heritage seeds suitable for the Scandinavian climate) and find that my hunger has no limit. Oh what joy!!
4. Enjoy evenings in front of the log fire
In February as the garden is asleep, you might as well take advantage of the long and cold winter evenings when it is too dark and cold to do anything outside, and instead enjoy a cozy evening in front of the log fire. This winter I have been reading the gardening books I bought last autumn, and my mind is filled with new ideas of things I want to try out. I have been making lists of plants I want to get, and made drawings of the rose arbour. Now all there is to do is wait for spring, but as it is some months until the ground will thaw I will continue to appreciate this downtime. I hope you have wonderfully pleasant winter evenings too!