February is the month when things start going into the ground in Zone 9. While other areas are still under a snow blanket, Zone 9 can be in the 70-80 degree temperature range. But don’t let the balmy weather fool you-there can still be a cold snap until next month. Follow this guide of 8 things to do in the February garden to get your garden off to a great start.
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If you have a grow light setup, you can start some seeds indoors. Plant Eggplant, Peppers and Tomato seeds now. They will be a good height for transplanting out next month. Remember to keep raising the light so it stays about 2-3″ away from the growing plants. If you plant indoors without a grow light, the seedlings may get too leggy. They may have trouble handling the move to the outdoors.
Direct Seeding in the Garden
It is still 30 days away from the last frost date on March 15. You can plant transplants and seeds of cold-hardy crops in the February garden now.
* Root Crops: You should have already planted your potato pieces. Other root crops to plant now are Beets, Carrots, Kohlrabi, Radish, Rutabagas, Shallots and Turnips.
* Fruit Crops: You can plant out Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflower transplants. In order to get a harvest, these plants should be fairly well along in their growth. If they are still small, there may not be enough cool weather left in the season to allow them to grow to harvest.
Beans should be planted late in the month.
* Leaf Crops: Plant Collards, Swiss Chard, Lettuce and Mustard this month, and replant every two weeks or so to extend your harvest. You can also harvest the outer sets of leaves on each plant, leaving the inner leaves to continue growing.
* Grass Crops: Corn is really just a large grass plant. Plant corn in the garden late in the month. Make sure to protect the young corn sprouts from birds by using a row cover. I have had birds eat the seed and young plants in the past. Be sure to fertilize your corn plants, as they are heavy feeders and a fast growing crop.
Other Considerations in the February garden
February is the beginning of your spring garden, so be sure to leave room for March, April and May plantings of warm season vegetables. Look at my earlier posts about companion planting to discover what plants will grow well together, and what plants will stunt other plant growth.
Check out the post on Succession planting when you are planning, so you can get a warm season crop started in the space you used for a cool season crop after it has been harvested.
Also look at the types of plants that will attract beneficial insects, and repel the harmful insects.
Planning and planting your garden this way will avoid the “plant everything in one weekend” mindset. You will be planting a few vegetables each week for several months, even through the heat of summer and into the fall. Your insect pest damage will be limited, and with mulching of both the unplanted areas and the growing areas, will cut down on weeding and watering chores also.
Utilizing these 8 things to do in the February garden will get your 2017 garden off to a great start! Let the community know what else you do to prepare your garden by using teh comment section below!