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February Garden

Copyright 2012, Jim Long

A mild January has gotten a lot of gardeners thinking about spring planting, even though the likelihood of going through February and March with continuing mild weather is pretty low. Most likely we’ll have the late winter snowstorms the Ozarks is known for. But, that doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of the current mild weather, either.
Onion plants from Dixondale Farms.

My onions arrived from Dixondale Farms the first week of January they were planted within days. You may recall that last season I had a race between onion plants and onion sets (bulbs). I wanted to see just which method netted the fastest onions. The onion plants won the race by producing good-sized bulbs almost 2 weeks ahead of the sets. Of course I planted only onion plants this year.

So what can one safely plant right now? Onions, certainly because they’re very cold hardy. First plantings of lettuce can be sown now, as well. An old gardener in the town where I grew up in Central Missouri, always scattered her lettuce seed on the south side of her wash house, on top of a snow drift and she always had the first and most productive lettuce of anyone in town.

Potatoes, which I’ve written about before, are always planted in my garden in early February. By Ozarks tradition, peas should be planted by Valentine’s Day and I have mine ready. If you like leeks, you can plant those now. As soon as they’re a couple of inches tall, transplant them into rows, spacing about every 8-10 inches apart.
Larkspur do best when planted in very early spring.

Larkspur, poppies and bachelor’s buttons do well if planted this month. Scratch the soil slightly, scatter the seeds and lightly rake the area and they will come up as the weather warms. I scatter radish seed with the flowers to mark where I planted the flowers and I pull the radishes as they mature.

February is the time to prune grape vines. Don’t prune roses yet, wait until new growth appears in late March, but this month is the time to prune fruit trees. Once trees such as peaches and apples are pruned, you can give them their first spraying of dormant oil to prevent insect problems later.

Poppies, like larkspur, benefit from very early planting.

This is also an excellent time to till the garden. You can till under all the old mulch but more important, the tilling process exposes insect eggs that over-winter in your garden. Grasshopper eggs, larvae of cucumber beetles, cut worms and Japanese beetle grubs, all can be thinned by tilling early. Birds eat some of the eggs and grubs and even better, nights that dip well below freezing will kill the eggs and larvae. Besides, just tilling the garden will get you in the mood for planting.

You will find more gardening information on my other blog:
Happy gardening, even this early!

1 comment:

Marc Scroggs said...

I am getting ready to do some planting and also tilling the garden. Your writing this story just makes me more anxious to get started and reap the benefits later.