This post will review February garden tasks. You can also download the February Garden Checklist from the Seasonal Living Resource Library to help you plan and organize your garden this winter. My seed starting schedule is there, too!
February Garden Tasks | Start Those Seeds
Seed Starting in February
My seed starting schedule for February in Zones 6 and 7 is in the Seasonal Living Resource Library. Download it and use it to plan out your seedlings for this month. Not a member? No worries, click here to join!
Here is a good rule of thumb for planning your seedlings with common vegetables in a kitchen garden:
Start these seeds 8-10 weeks before setting out date: celery, celeriac, eggplant, leeks*, onions*, parsley*.
Then, these seeds 6-8 weeks before setting out date: artichokes, basil*, hot and sweet peppers, tomatoes.
And, these seeds can be started 4-6 weeks before setting out date: beets*, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard*, okra, spinach*, Swiss chard*, sweet pea*.
*indicates plants I prefer to direct seed when soil temperatures break 50 degrees but can be started indoors.
‘Setting out date’ refers to the date you will set plants out to harden off before planting.
Join the Super Duper Seed Swap
The next sees exchage through the Super Duper Seed Swap will be in the fall. Don’t wait, join now to be sure to participate in October. Click here to learn more!
A Quick How-to
Fill the cells of your seedling tray with organic potting soil that is moist. Place 1 or 2 seeds in each cell. Water and cover with a dome that usually comes with the cell trays for 24 hours. This ensures the top layer of the soil mix doesn’t dry out and stop the seeds from germinating correctly.
Remove the dome once you see the beginning of growth in the cells. If you leave the dome on too long mold will grow on top of the soil. Not a big problem, but why take the risk.
Once you see the seedlings emerging, water the cells. Then water every other day or so.
Lighting should be close to the top of the trays and the space between the lighting and the plants should be adjusted as the plants grow. When the lights are too far above the seedlings you get those gangly seedlings that never seem to thrive. Be sure the lighting isn’t so close it scorches the seedlings. As a rule, I would say I keep my lights about 4 inches above the seedlings on my grow shelf.
Garden Planner and Journal
The Kitchen Garden Planner and Journal is an eBook designed to help you plan and track your efforts to grow the best vegetables, fruits, and flowers possible.
The eBook comes with lifetime access to printable worksheets for tracking everything from plant varieties to soil amendments, pest management strategies to seed starting schedules.
Finish Catalog Shopping for Seeds and Equipment
By the end of February, you should have the majority of your catalog shopping done. Ordering seeds that get your through April in the vegetable garden will help you have what you need when you need it for spring planting and harvesting. Below are my top 5 favorite seed suppliers.
I recommend any seed company that has signed the Safe Seed Pledge.
The Safe Seed Pledge
The Safe Seed Pledge is a statement designed by the Council for Responsible Genetics. It is designed to help consumers know that they are not purchasing genetically modified seeds (GMOs). Here’s a sample of the pledge:
“Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, We pledge that we do not knowingly buy, sell or trade genetically engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities.” (See document here)
Johnny’s Select Seed
Johnny’s Select Seed is a seed company in Maine. The company is employee owned and designed to serve the small farmer. In addition to high-quality seeds, Johhny’s has an extensive free learning library and instructional video series. This company is an innovator of tools designed for the small farm and kitchen garden.
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange is a cooperatively owned seed company in Virginia. They specialize in open pollinated vegetables, flower, and herb seeds that grow well in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US. I have enjoyed great success with their seeds over the year, and enjoy the older heirloom varieties they offer. They have a very engaging exhibit table that the Monticello Harvest Festival each year. Definitely an event for every gardener’s bucket list.
Seed Savers Exchange
Seed Savers Exchange, in Iowa, is a nonprofit organization and one of the largest seed banks in the United States. This seed company is designed to preserve heirloom seeds varieties and promote their use in kitchen gardens. Many of their seed varieties are certified organic. I have had great success with their seeds. Their free learning library is the best!
John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds
John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds is in Connecticut and offers a distinctive variety of vegetable, herb, and flower seeds specifically selected for the kitchen garden. While their website is a little clunky, it does offer a very nice learning section. My favorite product is their direct sow flower collections. They are easy to start and reseed themselves for years after the initial planting. The print catalog is a delight to read because of the watercolor illustrations of the plants.
Territorial Seed Company
Territorial Seed Company is a small, family-owned seed company in Oregon. I love dealing with them because the interaction is very intimate, you actually talk to a person who knows what they are doing. I can’t say enough good things about their Wild Garden Kales collection. This is a mixture of both flavorful and beautiful kale varieties perfect for every use in the kitchen from baby kale leaf salad to braising with bacon. Their print catalog is also beautifully illustrated.
Seed Starting Schedules in the Seasonal Living Resource Library
The Seasonal Living Resource Library has seed starting schedules for each month from January through June. Join to download them for FREE and use them to create your seed starting schedule for the spring, summer, and fall. Joining the library comes with a weekly newsletter of unique content that helps you become a pro in the kitchen and the garden every season of the year! Simply click the image below to instant access to the library.
Make Poting Soil
February is also the perfect time to make your own potting soil. Sadly, the current organic soil mixes are mystery concoctions. You simply don’t know what’s in the mix, even when it is certified organic. Admittedly, making your own potting soil is a lot of work. My seed starting trials pitting my own mix against certified organic mixes available at the local hardware store show my own mix grows seeds at twice the rate. This is a project that has visible and immediate positive impacts on your garden.
Check on Your Winter Vegetables
Are you growing a winter vegetable garden? The sun’s angle sharpens in February and you should begin to see the rapid growth of spinach, lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, and any other winter vegetables. Ironically, you’ll need to begin weeding again, as chickweed loves to grow in covered winter gardens. Don’t forget to water inside your low tunnels and cold frames to keep those veggies happy.
If the environment is particularly moist and humid, you’ll need to watch for slugs chomping your leafy greens.
Have a sweet tooth this February? Be sure to harvest some of those winter carrots. They’ll be as tasty as candy!
Celebrate Groundhog Day!
Groundhog Day, also known as St. Brigid’s Day, Imbolc, and Candlemas, is one of my favorite seasonal holidays. The way the sun shifts and brightens in early February makes this time of year feel spring-like to me. That’s just how the ancient Celts saw the beginning of February, as the beginning of spring. Click here to learn more, and then buy that adorable Groundhog Poster that Bob designed!
Tap Your Maple Trees
I tap my maples every February. Sometimes I begin in January if it is a warm winter. It’s easy and fun!
This affiliate link is to the exact kit I used to get started. I only tap 2-3 trees a year to get a half gallon of maple syrup. That’s more than enough for Bob and I to sweeten tea, add to salad dressings, and make life sweeter in a hundred different ways.
Tend to Your Bird Feeders
February is National Bird Feeding Month! It’s the toughest month of the year for songbirds as they forage for seeds and seek out thawed water to keep them going until the spring thaw. Celebrate this entertaining and educational event by putting up a bird feeder, or maintaining the ones you have this February. Then, keep track of the varieties of songbirds that visit your feeders throughout the month. We have a preponderance of sap suckers that quite beautiful.
Research Pet Chickens for Your Backyard
If you live in an area that allows backyard chickens, I highly recommend them as a pet. While you can spend a great deal on a set up for backyard chickens, it does not have to be an expensive hobby. Take advantage of the indoor time you have this February to research backyard chickens and what is involved in keeping them as pets.
I recommend the My Pet Chicken website as a 1-stop resource for identifying the breeds best for your home and learning how to raise day-old baby chicks, build a chicken coop, and collecting fresh eggs. Our girls one chilly February morning are in the picture below.
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