What to plant in the garden in February – Cool Season Vegetables – February is not too early to begin planting the spring vegetable garden. Take action now and your family will be eating fresh garden fare months before your neighbors.
- Cool season crops such as broccoli, cabbage, radishes, kale, turnips, Irish potatoes and onions planted now will yield their harvest soon.
- Arugula, lettuce, and other salad greens can also be planted out in the garden this month, but will do better if started under cover of a simple plastic tunnel, or a cold frame. Plan on succession plantings every week or two to keep the homegrown goodness coming.
- Spinach – plant out in the garden around the middle of the February – cover spinach seeds with 1/4″ of peat moss or screened compost instead of garden soil so that the tiny plants don’t have to fight heavy crusty soil just to emerge. Plant plenty to share with family and friends.
- Potatoes – toward the end of the month plant potatoes in trenches or pits leaving room to add additional soil as the plants emerge.
- Black berries, grapes, strawberries and other small fruit and hardy perennials can be transplanted out this month.
- Asparagus crowns can be set out or moved, as can almost any dormant hardy perennial.
In zone 6 our last frost date is usually about April 15 (tax day), and the ground is warming up by the middle of May. A quick look at the calendar shows that sometime this month (or early March at the latest) I need to start seeds indoors.
February or early March is time to start many seeds indoors under lights, or in the proverbial sunny window. You might hear cautionary tales of “don’t start too soon or your plants will be leggy before you can set them out”, which is true to a certain extent. However our “reliably warm and frost free” date is a month later – too late for spring crops to get going before hot dry weather. Weeks before you can safely transplant into the garden the weather becomes mostly sunny and warm with only occasional cold overnight temps – you can take your flats or potted plants outside, and bring them back in as needed to avoid low overnight temps. This might sound like a lot of trouble, but if you don’t get an early start your garden may suffer from the hot dry weather that we’ve been getting in the summer time – beginning in early June last year. So I plan to start early. This year I should be able to avoid a lot of that in and out by using the small greenhouse that I built last fall.
Start saving one gallon plastic jugs now to use for cheap easy chloches to protect tender tomato and pepper plants from the tail end of cool weather after you do set them out.
Leave mulch in place around emerging bulbs and perennials – periodic warm weather might make you think Spring is here, but it isn’t quite. As soon as you see growth out of your bulbs it’s time to start feeding them. Bulbs do all of their growth and energy storage during a few months (or weeks) in the spring, and are dormant later. Feeding during dormancy won’t help much. However if you feed the soil with plenty of organic matter you don’t have to worry about it much – the nutrients will be there when the plants need them.
Bring in branches of forsythia, dogwood and other spring blooming trees to forced for indoor color. Make long, slanted cuts and place in water – Change water once or twice a week for blooms in 3 weeks.
Prune – Now (Late Winter) is the time to prune many deciduous trees including fruit trees and Grape vines. Remove dead, or diseased branches, suckers growing at or near the base of the tree trunk and crossed branches.
Pruning fruit trees – Fruit bearing trees and grapes usually need to be pruned every year. Educate yourself about the particular pruning needs of your fruit bearing plants or you might find that you’ve removed the parts that would have born fruit this year.
Do not prune Spring blooming trees and shrubs (Azaleas, forsythia, etc) in late winter because their flower buds are already formed. Prune soon after the show is over instead.
Apply Dormant Oil Spray – An early spring application of horticulture oil will safely kill over-wintering soft-bodied insects such as scale, whiteflies and aphids. Horticulture oil is not a poison and merely smothers insects – so good coverage is required. Fruit trees will especially benefit.
February is also a good time to put out nest boxes for birds so they can have time to scope them out before the actual nesting season.
Keep March in mind – next month it will be time to plant peas, fava beans and other cool season crops – start gathering seeds now!
As you plan your garden and place your seed order this chart might be helpful. Needless to say – your mileage may vary.
APPROXIMATE PLANTING PER PERSON
Per 100 Feet
|Asparagus||30 lb.||10 – 15 plants||10 – 15 plants|
|Beans, Snap Bush||120 lb.||15 – 16 plants||15 – 20 feet|
|Beans, Snap Pole||150 lb.||5 – 6 feet||8 – 10 feet|
|Beans, Lima Bush||25 lb. shelled||10 – 15 feet||15 – 20 feet|
|Beans, Lima Pole||50 lb. shelled||5 – 6 feet||8 – 10 feet|
|Beets||150 lb.||5 – 10 feet||10 – 20 feet|
|Broccoli||100 lb.||3 – 5 plants||5 – 6 plants|
|Brussels Sprouts||75 lb.||2 – 5 plants||5 – 8 plants|
|Cabbage||150 lb.||3 – 4 plants||5 – 10 plants|
|Cabbage, Chinese||80 heads||3 – 10 feet||————|
|Carrots||100 lb.||5 – 10 feet||10 – 15 feet|
|Cauliflower||100 lb.||3 – 5 plants||8 – 12 plants|
|Celeriac||60 lb.||5 feet||5 feet|
|Celery||180 stalks||10 stalks||————|
|Chard, Swiss||75 lb.||3 – 5 plants||8 – 12 plants|
|Collards & Kale||100 lb.||5 – 10 feet||5 – 10 feet|
|Corn, Sweet||10 dozen||10 – 15 feet||30 – 50 feet|
|Cucumbers||120 lb.||1 – 2 hills||3 – 5 hills|
|Eggplant||100 lb.||2 – 3 plants||2 – 3 plants|
|Garlic||40 lb.||————||1 – 5 feet|
|Kohlrabi||75 lb.||3 – 5 feet||5 – 10 feet|
|Lettuce, Head||100 heads||10 feet||————|
|Lettuce, Leaf||50 lb.||10 feet||————|
|Muskmelon||100 fruits||3 – 5 hills||————|
|Mustard||100 lb.||5 – 10 feet||10 – 15 feet|
|Okra||100 lb.||4 – 6 feet||6 – 10 feet|
|Onions (plants/sets)||100 lb.||3 – 5 feet||30 – 50 feet|
|Onions (seed)||100 lb.||3 – 5 feet||30 – 50 feet|
|Parsley||30 lb.||1 – 3 feet||1 – 3 feet|
|Parsnips||100 lb.||10 feet||10 feet|
|Peas, English||20 lb.||15 – 20 feet||40 – 60 feet|
|Peas, Southern||40 lb.||10 – 15 feet||20 – 50 feet|
|Peppers||60 lb.||3 – 5 plants||3 – 5 plants|
|Potatoes, Irish||100 lb.||50 – 100 feet||————|
|Potatoes, Sweet||100 lb.||5 – 10 plants||10 – 20 plants|
|Pumpkins||100 lb.||1 – 2 hills||1 – 2 hills|
|Radishes||100 bunches||3 – 5 feet||————|
|Soybeans||20 lb.||50 feet||50 feet|
|Spinach||40 – 50 lb.||5 – 10 feet||10 – 15 feet|
|Squash, Summer||150 lb.||2 – 3 hills||2 – 3 hills|
|Squash, Winter||100 lb.||1 – 3 hills||1 – 3 hills|
|Tomatoes||100 lb.||3 – 5 plants||5 – 10 plants|
|Turnip||50 – 100 lb.||5 – 10 feet||————|
|Watermelon||40 fruits||2-4 hills||————|
Table courtesy of Arizona State University Master Gardeners web site