Jessica Damiano Jessica Damiano, Newsday columnist

Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print and online media. She has worked on Newsday's interactive endeavors since 1994, and currently is Deputy Editor overseeing Newsday.com's Lifestyle and Entertainment coverage. Jessica enjoys toiling in her garden -- a never-finished work in progress -- and helping local gardeners solve their horticultural problems in her Garden Detective column, which appears every Sunday in Newsday. Her Garden Detective column and blog have been awarded Press Club of Long Island Society of Professional Journalists Awards. Jessica lives in Glen Head, NY, with her husband John, daughters Justine and Julia, dogs Maddie and Miguel, and a whole bunch of perennials, vegetable plants and weeds. Ask a question Show More

There are more garden-related chores to do in February than you might imagine. Pruning needs to start this month, before trees and shrubs come out of dormancy, and maintenance tasks should be attended to as well, so you can hit the ground running in spring. Here’s a tip or chore for every day of the month.

1. Place seed orders now, before catalogs run out of your favorites.

2. Today a little rodent tells us how long it will be before it feels like spring. He’s often wrong, but we love him anyway.

3. Cut back last year’s hellebore foliage before new growth begins.

4. Start seeds of slow-growing annuals (ageratum, sweet alyssum, geranium, petunia, snapdragon, verbena) indoors now.

5. Check on stored tubers and bulbs. Mist those that are drying out and discard the rotted ones.

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6. Turn the compost pile; it’s still cooking and requires even heat distribution.

7. If the ground is dry and unfrozen, water evergreens, especially those planted this past year.

8. Start lavender and thyme seeds indoors on a sunny windowsill.

9. Do hemlocks look like they have cotton swab tips hanging off them? Those are woolly adelgid egg sacs. Remove them by hand and destroy.

10. Water houseplants with room-temperature water to avoid leaf drop.

11. Inspect flower beds and use your foot to push back bulbs or crowns that have heaved up. Protect with mulch.

12. Inspect tree wrappings to ensure protection from hungry critters.

13. Replenish bird feeders, and don’t forget the water.

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14. Happy Valentine’s Day! If you’re gifting roses, remember that red means romance; pink, affection; yellow, friendship; white, purity.

15. Check fruit trees for tent caterpillar egg masses, which look like wads of brown chewing gum. Remove them by hand and put them in the trash.

16. If orchids are outgrowing their containers, replant into a slightly larger pot now, while they’re still dormant.

17. Start pruning roses and deciduous shrubs and trees, except maple, beech, dogwood, elm and sycamore.

18. Replant orchids that are outgrowing their pots.

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19. Clean hand tools, paint window boxes and spruce up lawn furniture now so they will be ready when you are.

20. You may be home for Presidents Day, but resist the urge to start vegetable seeds. It’s too early.

21. Use a broom to gently brush snow from evergreen branches, or they’ll buckle and possibly break.

22. Want more houseplants? This is a good time to “air layer” rubber plant, mother-in-law plant and dracaena.

23. If your lawn mower needs servicing, take it in now while business is slow, and you won’t likely be kept waiting. Be sure to get blades sharpened, too.

24. Prune grapevines to four or fewer fruiting canes, leaving seven to 10 buds on each.

25. Fake spring by force-blooming flowering shrubs like forsythia or quince. Just cut branches and place into vases of water indoors.

26. Set lettuce, cabbage and onion transplants outdoors when the first crocuses open, but protect them on cold nights.

27. Wipe foliage of large-leaved houseplants like philodendron, ficus, etc., so they can “breathe” and photosynthesize properly.

28. Start celery, leeks, onions, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower from seed indoors; it’s still too early for anything else.