February is for seed starting and other tasks that give us a leg up on the gardening season! Here are all the things that I get into during the month of February.
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In the January Garden Guide, we discussed designing our gardens, buying seeds, a few things to harvest from a cold frame or other protected growing space, and a few maintenance tasks if the weather’s right for working outside.
Remember that I’m in USDA hardiness zone 6a, which may or may not apply to your location. Your garden may be covered in snow, but at least February is the month to collect seed starting supplies and dig in. All in all, February is a fairly tame entry into the gardening season.
15 minutes a day
I like to set aside 15 minutes every day for gardening activities. This keeps gardening at the forefront of my mind and maintains it as a priority without requiring me to give up “real life” stuff.
Harvest from under Protection Outdoors
- Beet family: beets, spinach, swiss chard
- Cabbage family: collards, kale
Completing some of these tasks this month (weather permitting), will make next month much easier!
- Cut back dead plant matter. Trash it if it was diseased, otherwise compost it. I like to compost in place by chopping the organic matter into smaller pieces that will feed the soil life and break down easily. Leaving the roots intact will also feed the soil life. See my article Building the Right Compost Bin.
- Weed garden beds.
- Add soil amendments to inactive gardens with a digging fork. Add soil amendments like finished compost, worm castings, fresh or dried herbs, or aged manure. See my article 9 Organic Amendments that Improve Soil for more ideas.
- It’s the perfect time of year to improve soil.
- Rake leaves and make leaf mulch, or save them for composting.
- Cover beds with a deep mulch. I like shredded leaf mulch because it’s free, but chemical-free straw is good, too. For more of my mulching tips, see Mulching in the Garden.
Start Seeds Under Grow Lights
The following seeds can be started indoors. For details about starting seeds indoors, see my step-by-step guide.
- Alliums: leek, onion
- Cabbage Family: broccoli, kale
- Try the De Ciccio broccoli variety. It is an heirloom variety that will continue producing side shoots all season, long after the main head has been harvested.
- I couldn’t grow a garden without kale, and I love all varieties. But my garden wouldn’t be complete without Lacinato kale. AKA dinosaur kale, this heirloom variety has flat leaves that are easy to clean.
- Herbs: chives, echinacea, parsley
- Nightshade vegetables: eggplant, pepper
Start Seeds in a Cold Frame
If you’ve got a cold frame, this is the month to get stuff growing! (Please see my note above about hardiness zones.)
- Lettuce (I love growing romaine, and my favorite is Parris Island. I think it’s so much easier to clean than leaf lettuce.)
- Peas (Try Sugar Ann, the super early sugar snap pea!)
Build a New Bed
If the weather allows, build a new bed using the sheet mulch method. Cover an area with cardboard, overlapping the ends to cover the ground completely. Then add organic matter – compost soil, coffee grounds, worm castings, aged manure, etc.
The minimum rule for the thickness of the organic matter is 12 inches, but go thicker if you have access to enough organic matter.
That’s it, congratulations on a great start to the gardening season!
Do you want more tips for getting your garden season off to a good start?
You’ll find loads of information just like this in my book, The Suburban Micro-Farm. With your purchase you’ll get four FREE bonus materials to help you plan, schedule your planting, and track your records.
What did I miss? What do you do in February in your climate?