Garden Plant Seedlings You can Start to Grow in February
If you live in an area where you can start planting cold-weather crops in mid to late April, then now is the time to think about getting some seedlings established. If you live in an area where the growing season starts later, then you can apply the same following principles in March instead. In both cases, starting your seedlings now can give you a big jump on getting your garden up and running, and you can also increase crop productivity and promote an earlier harvest as well. All of this can translate into more food as well as more harvests throughout the course of the normal season.
When it comes to choosing crops to start indoors, the best tend to be hearty, leafy greens, some tomatoes and even celery. The advantage of starting seedlings is to allow the plants to become established, ensure that they are getting enough nutrients and water to grow strong or resist disease and to minimize stress caused by fluctuating temperatures. Plants can be at their most vulnerable during their germination and seedling stage, and getting them started under controlled conditions will most-certainly improve their chances of flourishing once they are transplanted into the garden later on.
Leafy greens do better in cooler weather than heads of lettuce, and they don’t require as much space or water to get started. Think kale, chard, various Asian green varieties and spinach. Mustard greens along with leafy lettuce are also viable options. The thing to remember about leafy greens is that they all have different requirements and grow at different rates.
For example, spinach has a pretty expansive root system, and they will need to be planted in larger containers in order to give them room to spread and grow. On the other hand, some varieties of lettuce and Asian greens have shorter tap roots and don’t spread out as much under the soil. Make sure that you are choosing appropriate pots and spacing plants far enough apart in order to give them the room they need to get off to a good start.
It’s also important to remember that you don’t want to transplant seedlings more than once if possible. Think about how big each one will be in 6-8 weeks after planting, and space them accordingly or place them in appropriate containers for best results.
Cabbage, Broccoli and Other Hearty Veggies
You can start planting cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts as early as late February if you live in zones 5,6 or 7. Those in more northern climates may have to wait until mid-March to get started. However, even for those who start planting early in the warmer zones, the plants will need some form of protective covering that can help to minimize temperature extremes. However, getting an early jump on these crops whether indoors or directly in the garden can translate into an extra harvest or two before the end of the season.
Celery can take a long time to grow, so the sooner it gets planted, the better. Since they can do very well in cooler conditions, you can plant seedlings as early as February in the warmer zones and March in the cooler ones. In both cases, you can expect to get your first harvest around 5-6 months later.
Onions are another hearty, cool weather crop, and it’s pretty easy to calculate when to start planting the seedlings. Most onion seedlings need about 8 weeks to develop before being planted in the garden, and the best time to plant them is about 6 weeks before the last frost. Just do the math based on your location and climate and plan accordingly. In many cases, this means starting the seedlings in early to mid-February, and this will give you a fantastic jump on being able to harvest them earlier in the season.
As we get closer to spring and the upcoming growing season, remember that you don’t have to wait until the last frost passes to start growing many staple crops. Consequently, this is the time to start getting your seedlings ready in addition to charting out when to start the rest of your crops. Getting a jump on things now can help you to end up with a more resilient and productive garden that can flourish all season long.