Green things start popping up in the garden in February. The first up are the perennial edibles and ornamentals like cultivated dandelions, sorrel, arugula, chives, crocus, daffodils, and hyacinths. Daffodils already have flower buds. Overwintering carrots, dill, parsley, onions, kale, leeks, garlic, sprouting broccoli, mustard greens, arugula, cabbage and broccoli are early greenery in the garden.
February is the month to get the garden ready for the spring planting frenzy!
You can get a jump on the garden by starting seeds indoors. It is easy and a budget friendly option that allows you to grow many varieties not available at your neighborhood nursery or big box store. Besides, it is fun to watch green things grow.
10-12 weeks prior (end Jan/beginning of Feb in our Zone 7 garden)
Artichokes Growing artichokes and cardoons
Broccoli How to grow broccoli and cauliflower
Chives Add chives to your garden
Fennel Growing fennel
Leek, if starting from seed
Onions, if starting from seed Everything to know about growing onions
Peas Time to plant peas!
Shallots, if starting from seed
Strawberries Back yard strawberries
8-10 weeks prior (mid-February in our Zone 7 garden)
Mustard Mustard greens
Rosemary Make your own "Herbes de Provence"
Scallions, if starting from seed
Turnips All about turnips
For a full seed starting calendar, Indoor Seed Starting Calendar
For both seed sowing and outdoor transplant timing, Indoor sowing/outdoor planting dates
What are the tricks to successful seed starting? The most surefire I have found with a gadget is the Aerogarden with the seed starting tray. I have almost 100% germination rate with it.
|Aerogarden with seedlings sprouting|
When starting in conventional peat/coir pots, the key is using sterile seed starting mix, pots and containers. You can make your own seed starting mix with peat moss or coir (renewable), compost, and vermiculite. Just be sure to heat the compost to at least 150 degrees for 20 minutes to kill any pathogens before using to start seeds.
Place the seeds in the starter mix in the pots and wet thoroughly from the bottom (watering from the top can dislodge seeds). After fully saturated, they are ready to put in a catch pan. Make sure any catch pan that you use has been thoroughly washed in a bleach solution so all pathogens are killed. The one I just bought has a water reservoir in the bottom of it that wicks the moisture up under the seedlings.
I put my seed starts in a plastic tray under grow lights and heating mat. Keep moist, but not wet, and with the heating pad on during the day until seedling emerges. Once seedling emerges, remove the heating pad. If you don't have a grow light, place the tray in a south facing window for the best light.
Make sure you label your seedlings as soon as you plant them; you may think you will remember 2 months from now what was where, but likely not. I keep a piece of paper under the seed starter that has captured for each cell what is planted in the cell. I have also put the plant marker in the coir pot with the name on it when I plant the seed.
Now is also a great time to start keeping a journal. Start tracking what you planted when so you can review next year what worked well to repeat and what didn’t work so well to tweak. Keep a garden diary
Your seedling’s first leaves are not “true” leaves; think of them as baby teeth. The second sets of leaves are their true leaves. They are ready to be hardened off when they have their first set of true leaves. Seedlings must be hardened and not just thrown outside. You take them out a little at a time, gradually increasing their exposure to sun and cold, only during the daytime. I try and plant when there is a warm spell forecasted to minimize the shock.
There are great selections of herbs and veggies at nurseries and big box stores nowadays so you have great options just waiting until spring is officially here and picking up what looks good at your nearby store in a couple of months. This is also a great back up if your first seed starting adventure goes a little awry...........
Before you start planting, it is a good idea to do a soil test to see what nutrients your garden needs. You can buy a kit for testing, take a soil sample to your local extension office or send off a sample for a more rigorous soil analysis. The next step in garden production and your nutrit... If you don't want to go to the trouble of a soil test, add a well balanced, organic fertilizer to your garden bed, cover with compost, and top with mulch.
If you are putting in new garden beds, here are some tips Put in a new garden bed the easy way-really
I like gardening in our flower beds and in pots. I fertilize, add a layer of compost before mulching. This keeps the nutrition where the plants can get to it easier. Weed free, self fertilizing, till free garden beds
Asparagus, fruit trees and bushes, garlic, grapes, shallots, spinach and peas seeds can be planted in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked. Outdoor seed sowing seed starting times If gardening in mulched flower beds, I clear a small slit in the mulch and then sow the seeds and cover with potting soil. Most seedlings are not quite strong enough to break through the mulch.
I am still trying to decide what to plant in the garden this year. I try to capture at the end of the gardening season what I wanted to plant in next year's garden. Reflecting back on the 2020 edible garden; planning for 2021 This year we are putting on an addition where my existing edible garden is so I will be very limited in space this year. I'll need to fully leverage growing in pots and using compact varieties as well as being choiceful. Surprising veggies that can be grown in pots Veggies for small spaces
Here is what I definitely have in my garden every year or make sure I still have enough in the freezer to last another year: herbs, chives, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, summer and spaghetti squash, green beans, snap peas and lots of flowers! 2020 Edible Garden Plan
For different garden ideas, here are a few to choose from: Heirloom Sicilian kitchen garden, Small space French kitchen garden, Start a kitchen herb garden! Children's edible garden Colonial Vegetable Garden
For first time or busy gardeners, Easy kitchen garden
Hang on, Spring is almost here!