Regardless of location, February brings a desire to start working on garden ideas and planting heirloom seeds in preparation for warmer months. Dreams of a bountiful harvest and experimenting with new varieties and ideas can carry the gardener through long winter evenings. Garden planning, including which heirloom seeds to plant can begin taking shape today!
Many gardeners who plant heirloom seeds prefer to go the organic route with their garden, eliminating pesticides, herbicides and other potentially toxic plant and soil treatments. Natural fertilizer and soil amendment treatments will provide plants with the boost they need to reach their full bearing potential. The following suggestions will help you be prepared for spring:
- February is the absolute latest that you should organize seed packets. Count what you have and what you need then, get it ordered, or they may be sold out! Many of the rare heirlooms sell out in Jan/Feb, so gardeners who put this off until March will probably be out of luck.
- Replace grow lights, sterilize soil and containers.
- Planning a new garden is one of the most enjoyable February activities. Read through descriptions of heirloom vegetable seeds and flower seeds and determine which new varieties to add and where to place them. Some plants, such as corn, are heavy feeders and should be alternated with other crops unless fertilizer is used or a cover crop is planted to replace lost nutrients.
- Depending on where you live, heirloom seeds including onions, leeks, celery, radishes, peas, spinach, broccoli and other hardy greens can be started indoors now for transplanting later. Some varieties of flower seeds can also be started, depending upon garden location and whether a hot frame or greenhouse will be used.
- Herb seeds deserve their own honorable mention, as they can be grown indoors throughout the year and started early for transplanting. Many cooks enjoy having fresh herbs such as basil growing right at their fingertips to add fresh flavor to meals and sauces.
- Plan a cold frame or combination cold frame and hot frame for hardening off seedlings. Gardeners in colder zones will appreciate the mini-greenhouse effect of a hot frame. Begin gathering material and build a few of these to extend the season. Make sure if you are using leftover window frames and old wood that they don’t contain lead-based paint. Also steer clear of creosote or penta treated wood. Cedar and redwood are ideal choices as they are naturally resistant to rot and mildew. Pickled wood, often a softwood that has been treated with vinegar, is also a popular alternative.
- Determine what soil treatment and fertilizers need to be added, and order them when placing the rare seed order. Soil testing may be available from a county agent if you notice a significant decrease in produce. Most gardens benefit from the addition of compost and organic fertilizers such as blood meal.
- February is also a great time of the year to check, repair and replace sprinkler heads and drip systems, in advance of when they are needed.
Starting onions, leeks and celery indoors in February provides the perfect opportunity to dig in and get some dirt under your nails. American Flag Leek Seeds are an heirloom seed variety that offers a 105 day cycle, perfect for succession planting, approximately 3-4 weeks apart. Heirloom Seeds are available in hundreds of varieties, for gardeners to plant and enjoy in all temperature zones.