Sunday, January 21, 2018
February Planting / Sowing Tips
I am duplicating my planting tips from last February with a few additional notes.
So far this winter is shaping up to be another "warm" one which means we have to be extra diligent in our pest control when the temperatures start rising. The pests like aphids and leaf-foot predators like the warming days and cool nights.
Also, I will be eager later on this spring to see if we wound up getting ENOUGH chill hours to get a garlic harvest. Last year's warm weather did not "force" the formation of garlic heads. With that in mind you may wish to consider harvesting young garlic for use as a "scallion" in your cooking, as they may die back without forming a head and then you lose all that nice green and mild bulb.
If we DO receive more frost/freeze in the coming weeks, and they are at good near 32 or a bit above/below, the garlic should form.
[Pictured: Poor Man's Cloche]
VEGETABLES, FRUITS & HERBS TO PLANT
Artichoke; Asparagus; Basil; Bay; Bean, Lima; Beets; Bok Choy; Cantaloupe; Carrots; Chard; Citrus Scented Marigold (Tagetes Nelsonii); Collards; Corn; Cucumbers; Epazote; Fruit Trees; Jerusalem Artichoke; Lavender; Lettuce & Greens; Marigold; Marjoram; Melon, Musk Melon; Melon, Winter; Mint; Mustard; Onion, Sets; Onions, Green; Oregano; Peas; Peppers; Potatoes; Purslane; Radishes; Sage; Savory; Spinach; Squash, Summer; Strawberry; Thyme; Tomatoes; Turnips; Watermelon
EDIBLE FLOWERS TO PLANT:
Bee Balm (Monarda Didyma); English Daisy ; Hollyhock; Jasmine Sambac (Arabian); Pansies; Primrose; Purslane; Safflower; Scented Geraniums; Snapdragons; Sunflower; Sweet Alyssum; Tangerine Scented Marigold (Tagetes Lemonii)
Frost/Freeze: Average last frost day is approximately February 15th, however frost and hail has been seen as late as the second week in March. It is best to have your frost covers handy.
GARDEN TIPS for February
February is the transition time for the garden from Winter to Spring sowing, transplanting and harvesting.
There is still time to get a last batch of carrots, sugarpeas, lettuces and similar in the ground. Choosing short maturity varieties, particularly of the root veggies, will give you more harvesting success as the weather jumps to heat in a couple of months.
February is also the time to start your warm season plants like tomatoes, basil and peppers, to name a few. But they may need some initial frost protection. Keep in mind that they may actually stop growing if there is a cold day or several, which chills the soil. Then they resume when the soil heats back up (an interesting phenomenon I finally caught on to several years ago).
The weird weather of the last couple of years in February/March with high temps followed by overnight chill/freeze (Global Weirding as Karis over at the Valley Permaculture Alliance put it so well), makes for some required diligence in the garden in February and March. It pays to remain more mindful of what the weather will be rather than just sow and try to grow.
February is the end of the primary perennial best planting time in the valley (October - February). What this means is that to ensure the best success for your perennials like rosemary, oregano and fruit trees, it is best to have them in the ground before the end of February and the beginning of our temperature increases.
New to-the-valley residents can be surprised by the common spring joke of "when is spring here?" and the answer is "do you remember that period in early March when it was about 78-83 or so degrees for about 2 weeks? - that was it!"
This of course is due to the sudden rise of temperatures from balmy mid 70s in late February / early March to the 90s by April 1st (or higher - we have had the rare 100+ degree days in late March or early April).
The plants just can't take the stress of dealing with putting down roots while the temperatures soar into the 90+ range in just a few short weeks.
Fertilize fruit trees now -- Use Valentine's day as the target -- (and again in late May (Memorial Day) and early September (Labor Day).
Pecan trees need zinc sulfate, applied at the rate of 1 pound per trunk inch width.
The last frost date averages around February 15th, although we have had frost as late as March 1st or 2nd (usually the result of a late winter storm with hail).
Frost in the Valley at the 1100 or lower elevations is usually limited to ‘soft frost’ where simple sheets or paper placed over sensitive plants (or moving potted plants beneath patios or trees) is sufficient to protect them. Hard/Killing frosts are rare particularly in February/March.
For every 1000 feet over 1100 in elevation the last frost day is moved back 10 days and the possibility of hard (killing) frosts starts to occur. At 2000 feet or lower, this is still a rare occurrence.
Getting your edible seedlings in the ground as early as possible provides longer-produce seasons - especially with plants like tomatoes.
Use homemade 'cloche' covers to protect seedlings -- cut the bottom of gallon milk containers or 2 liter soda bottles - clean very well to avoid mold -- place over plants each night until frost danger is past, remove during the day, or if you need to be gone for several days remove the cap to allow excess heat and humidity to escape.
How do you know if we are finished with frost? There are some examples in nature, but you still need to be prepared to cover sensitive plants through the 2nd week in March.
a. Ant activity in the garden indicates the soil has warmed up sufficiently for them to start gathering food again.
b. If the mesquite trees have started to bud out, it is unlikely to frost after that
c. Be aware that a warm storm can contain some hail through March.
Here in the Valley we can have Hail on an expected basis in Spring, early Summer and Fall.
The perfect conditions for Hail are warm OR WARMING soil, cool air mass coming in AND wind.
February and March have the perfect combination of warming soil and a cool system moving in. If you add wind you will generally get hail.
So, while actual frost may not happen keep your frost protection covers and jugs handy in the event of hail to safeguard your new seedlings and transplants.
To have all of my monthly planting / sowing recommendations right at your finger tips, consider purchasing my perpetual calendar. It has room for your own garden notes and I included some recipes.
You can purchase the print copy at Amazon.
Or at my Publisher's site where you have the option of a print copy or PDF.
-- Catherine, The Herb Lady
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