Now that January is over, the Ellis County Master Gardener Association is focusing on tips for the month of February, giving free information through its e-newsletter and specialized calendars.

Every month, there is a different focus the association advises community members to think about. These tips are meant for anyone interested in gardening and landscaping in Ellis County.

Master Gardener Melinda Kocian advises people to visit the group's website. “One of the most important things they can do is go to ecmga.com,” Kocian said. “We have a free e-newsletter we publish every month.”

The January newsletter was filled with the planting of trees and shrubs. Now in February, the focus is on flowers and vegetables.

According to the newsletter, “Cool-season vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and potatoes should be planted mid-month, or about 4 weeks prior to the average last freeze date (March 15 in Ellis County). Beets, carrots, lettuce, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard and 'greens' (collard, mustard and turnip) should be planted 2 to 4 weeks prior to the average last freeze.”

For planting, the tip is to dig and divide warm season perennials, such as mums, perennial salvia, cannas, coneflowers and more, before they break dormancy. Perennial flowers last for more than a season, typically living up to two years.

Those who have roses need to keep a close eye on the thorny bushes. In order for them to bloom in time, the tip is to prune the bushes by Valentine’s Day. They state, “Prune old, dead and weak canes back to the ground.”

The community should also be on garden watch. Gardeners will need to focus their attention on insects and diseases that may be on fruit and nut trees. In order to keep the harmful insects away, they should spray the garden as needed.

For guidance on how to spray the garden, contact the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service in Ellis County for a copy of “Homeowners Fruit and Nut Spray Schedule."

Ellis County Master Gardeners are offering free calendars, with detailed information on maintaining the garden at home. The community can pick up a calendar, at no charge, from any local sponsor listed on the website.

“We have a lot of people that are new to our area, “Kocian added. “They’ve come from other states ... from the northern part of Texas, which we’re very different right here weather wise and in time frame of when they need to be doing something in their gardens and landscapes.”

Additionally, they are having the Ellis County Master Gardener Expo on March 28.

The event will give people the opportunity to learn more about gardening and lawn maintenance. The association will have booths set up with information, as well as assigned guest speakers who will go into detail on particular gardening topics.

Visit http://www.ecmga.com/ for further information.