February can look like limbo land for gardeners in many of the U.S. Winter is ending, however spring hasn’t fairly begun. Even when the climate outdoors remains to be frosty or the bottom is frozen, there are many veggies you possibly can seed indoors in February to arrange for early transplanting.
In case your soil is workable, there are additionally many early spring greens and roots that don’t thoughts mildly frosty nights.
After the cabin fever of winter, you’re in all probability able to get your arms again within the soil! Let’s dig into 15 greens you can begin from seed, primarily based in your zone and final frost date.
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15 Veggies to Begin in February
Whether or not you will have a mini greenhouse, low tunnel, south-facing windowsill, or indoor grow-light setup, these February vegetable seeds will show you how to get a head begin on the backyard season.
Also called corn salad, mâche is without doubt one of the most underrated cold-weather greens. This hardy but scrumptious leafy vegetable can germinate in soils as chilly as 40°F (4°C). Established vegetation don’t thoughts temperatures as freezing as 5°F (-15°C)!
Mâche is nicknamed “corn salad” or “lamb’s lettuce” as a result of it was the first winter weed in European corn fields. The surprisingly tender veggie gained reputation over the previous decade for its juicy leaves and nutty, barely candy taste that tastes unimaginable in early spring salads.
Mâche is commonly one of many very first greens you possibly can harvest from the backyard in early spring. In zones 5 and colder, you possibly can sow these vegetable seeds this February in cell trays indoors and transplant them outdoors as quickly because the soil is workable. If in case you have low tunnels or a nursery, mâche can simply be sown straight into the soil so long as the bottom isn’t frozen. In zones 6-8, mâche is greatest direct seeded. The seeds received’t germinate in temperatures larger than 70°F (21°C).
With lily-pad succulent-textured leaves and lovely tiny white flowers, claytonia is a late winter and early spring deal with. This intriguing inexperienced is very wealthy in minerals and vitamin C. In reality, claytonia was nicknamed “miner’s lettuce” as a result of it was stated to forestall scurvy.
Whereas many northern foragers harvest claytonia straight from the forest, this wild inexperienced veggie will also be cultivated from seed this February for an easygoing, fast crop of salad greens.
Direct seed miner’s lettuce in soils round 50°F (10°C) about six weeks earlier than your anticipated final frost. The vegetation don’t thoughts the chilly, however they’ll die again as soon as the climate warms. In case you let claytonia self-sow, it creates a pleasant succulent floor cowl underneath the dappled shade of perennial vegetation. As a woodland herb, claytonia doesn’t do nicely in full direct daylight.
This well-known peppery inexperienced is carefully associated to mustards, cabbage, and kale. Arugula is naturally a cool-weather crop that dislikes warmth. The seeds germinate in soils as chilly as 40°F (4°C), and younger vegetation tolerate gentle frosts.
Direct seed arugula as much as 4 weeks earlier than your final frost date. I at all times cowl the vegetation with row material to guard them from early rising flea beetle infestations. If you wish to begin indoors, sow in cell trays as much as eight weeks earlier than the final frost date. Hardened-off transplants can stand up to colder frosts into the twenties so long as they’ve some safety, comparable to row cowl.
Most onion varieties take 90-100 days to mature, which implies an early begin is important in northern climates to make sure that you will have stunning onions by autumn. Begin seeding onions any time in February, round eight to 10 weeks earlier than your final frost date.
Be sure you select the precise onion selection in your local weather. Onions kind bulbs primarily based on the daylight size of specific areas. Discover whether or not the seed packet labels the onion sort:
- Brief-day onions: Begin bulbing when the day-length is 10-12 hours, greatest for southern climates (zones 7 and hotter)
- Lengthy-day onions: Bulb when day-length is 14-16 hours, greatest for northern climates (zones 6 and colder)
- Day-neutral onions: Kind bulbs no matter day-length and carry out in any area
Keep in mind that onions have shallow root methods and require constant moisture so as to kind hefty bulbs. Generously amend your beds with vermicompost or common compost to make sure ample vitamins.
Past potato-leek soup, leeks are an usually neglected relative of onions that you need to use in all the pieces from egg scrambles to casseroles. The lengthy white-blanched stalks and engaging shows of flattened inexperienced leaves take a very long time to mature, however the fall reward is at all times worthwhile. Leeks have a buttery-smooth gentle onion taste when sauteed, including a savory contact to autumn and winter dishes.
Since they require as much as 120 days to mature, leeks are greatest seeded in open trays indoors round February. They’re usually the primary crop that farmers sow of their greenhouses in late winter.
Mature leeks can deal with early fall frosts, however I’ve discovered that the younger vegetation carry out greatest once they get a head begin indoors. Sow seeds densely in flats or in clusters of 4 to 6 per cell in trays. As soon as they’re pencil-thick, transplant them within the backyard about six inches deep and 6 inches aside as much as two weeks earlier than your estimated final frost.
Celery will not be tough to develop, however it may be finicky about temperature and moisture. The younger vegetation profit from an indoor begin in February or March to allow them to attain 10-12 weeks of age earlier than transplanting. To germinate rapidly and evenly, the seeds want heat soils round 70-75°F (21-24°C), so I at all times place the trays on heating mats.
Celery shouldn’t be transplanted outdoor till temperatures are reliably above 55°F (13°C). In any other case, the vegetation could bolt. Maintain the seedlings constantly moist however by no means soggy. You don’t need the soil to dry out, because the stress will also be a main explanation for untimely bolting, which ends up in woody, poorly-textured celery stalks.
This asteroid-looking vegetable is a relative of celery that has been bred to provide a bulbous root. Celeriac roots have a gentle celery earthy taste and the feel of a potato. Like their celery cousins, they take a very long time to mature (as much as 150 days!), making them the perfect candidates for February seeding.
Whereas mature celeriac advantages from a lightweight frost firstly of fall, the younger vegetation demand heat soils. The seeds received’t germinate in soils colder than 70°F (21°C). Begin indoors on heating mats or underneath develop lights about 10-12 weeks earlier than your anticipated final frost.
Preserve constant moisture and don’t expose vegetation to temperatures colder than 55°F (13°C). In any other case, they’ll prematurely go to seed. When hardening off the seedlings, solely scale back moisture, however don’t expose them to chilly temperatures.
Whether or not you favor spicy or candy peppers, these slow-growing backyard icons are greatest seeded indoors 6-8 weeks earlier than the final frost date and transplanted out when the climate is heat. Peppers are native to South America and completely despise the chilly. The seeds could germinate slowly, however chilly soils will actually delay the method. In northern climates the place gardeners have hassle ripening peppers, it’s extremely advisable to begin in early spring.
Pepper seedlings get pleasure from ambient temperatures round 70°F (21°C) and soil temperatures above 80°F (27°C). If in case you have heating mats, it’s greatest to order them in your favourite pepper vegetation.
Be sure you sow only one seed per cell, and don’t bury it too deep. If rising sizzling peppers, at all times put on gloves when seeding (and by no means contact your eyes!) In case you dwell in zones 5 or colder, wait till March to begin your peppers.
Tomatoes are the most well-liked summer time crop, however most large-fruited varieties profit from an indoor begin in early spring. For zones seven and hotter, February is a good time to sow your favourite heirlooms and cherries in three to four-inch pots indoors. Most tomato seeds germinate greatest at soil temperatures round 80-90°F (27-32°C). A heating mat is useful!
Keep away from beginning tomatoes too early, or you might find yourself with rootbound, leggy, wimpy seedlings that don’t take off in a short time as soon as within the floor. Rootbinding is particularly problematic in tomatoes which might be seeded in late winter and keep of their containers for too lengthy via a chilly spring. In zones 6 and colder, it’s greatest to attend till March to begin tomatoes. Alternatively, depend again 4 to 6 weeks earlier than your final frost date.
It’s additionally necessary to offer younger tomato vegetation with ample daylight. These seedlings at all times get prime actual property in my greenhouse or south-facing windowsill. Leggy tomatoes have lengthy, weak stems that stretch towards the sunshine. To keep away from this, maintain tomato seedlings in full solar. If beginning underneath develop lights, decrease the lights near the seed tray floor and lift them because the vegetation develop.
Early broccoli and broccolini (sprouting broccoli) are a spring delight. These nutritious dark-green florets thrive in cool climate and moist soils. Select early-season varieties and sow in cell trays six to eight weeks earlier than your plan to transplant.
Chilly-hardy varieties can usually be transplanted one to 2 weeks earlier than the final frost date so long as the seedlings have been hardened off (acclimated) to chilly outside nights.
Whereas broccoli is a cold-weather crop, the seeds nonetheless desire heat to germinate. Soil temperatures round 75-80°F (24-27°C) are very best, with an ambient temperature round 60°F (16°F). At all times skinny vegetation to 1 seedling per cell and transplant at a large spacing 10-18” aside. In case you area broccoli too shut collectively or fail to skinny the child vegetation, they’ll have hassle forming a correct head.
Cabbage is one other cool-weather brassica that thrives in spring climate. Beginning in February ensures you will have strong cabbage seedlings to transplant by late March and Early April. Begin seeds indoors 6-8 weeks earlier than your anticipated final frost. Present compost-rich soil and constant moisture.
There are lots of distinctive types of cabbage, together with basic inexperienced, vibrant purple, tender savoy, and elongated Chinese language (“napa”) cabbage. Most cultivars are grown very equally, with a number of variations in spacing.
When doubtful, I at all times advocate going for wider spacing of as much as 18” between vegetation. Cabbage likes to unfold out, and its central leaves received’t kind a correct “head” if the vegetation are overcrowded.
Whether or not you want basic white cauliflower or vibrant psychedelic romanesco, cauliflower seedlings are grown nearly precisely like broccoli. You’ll discover that the cotyledons (first child leaves) look strikingly much like the remainder of the brassica household. Be sure you label your seed trays so that you don’t get them confused!
Begin your first succession of spring cauliflower 4 to 6 weeks earlier than the final frost. Plant the tiny rounded seeds simply ¼” deep, and don’t cowl them with an excessive amount of soil. At all times skinny to 1 plant per cell, and keep away from conserving in containers for too lengthy.
Rootbound cauliflower vegetation have hassle adjusting to rising within the floor. If spring seems chillier than anticipated, you possibly can up-pot cauliflower or plant within the floor underneath a row cowl or low tunnel.
One of the vital well-known cold-weather crops, kale thrives in early spring when the climate is cool and moist. A single kale plant can present nutrient-dense greens for a complete season! Mild frosts assist sweeten the leaves, however it’s necessary to defend younger vegetation from onerous frosts beneath 28°F (-2°C).
Sow kale indoors in February, round six to eight weeks earlier than the spring frost date. Hotter climates can direct sow within the backyard so long as soil temperatures are above 60°F (16°C). Child kale (a number of kale seeds sown shut collectively) offers a fast spring reward should you’re craving contemporary greens!
Spinach seedlings germinate nicely in soils as chilly as 55-60°F (13-16°C). You possibly can direct sow spinach as quickly because the soil is workable. Zones 6 and colder may have to attend till March. Direct seeding is the most typical manner of rising spinach, however you may also begin indoors and transplant if desired.
Spinach does greatest in early spring and fall plantings. The warmth causes bolting and bitter-flavored leaves. Typically, savoyed (crinkly) spinach is extra cold-hardy than flat-leaf spinach.
In areas with gentle springs, beets don’t thoughts germinating in soils as chilly as 45°F (7°C). Sow the seeds outdoor about ½” deep and three inches aside, in rows twelve inches aside. You possibly can develop beets for his or her nutritious child greens or for vibrant roots of any dimension.
Whether or not you select golden beets, ‘Chioggia’ (sweet cane striped), or basic purple beets, take word that cooler temperatures produce one of the best coloration and taste. February is a good time to begin your first succession.
Whereas it’s normally advisable to solely direct seed root crops, beets are an exception to the rule. They do very nicely when sown in clusters of two to a few vegetation per cell, transplanted six inches aside. The beets will develop upwards and outwards in a pleasant cluster. Maintain the encompassing bulbs in place when you selectively harvest the biggest roots first.
While you’re simply on the point of spring and wanting to get rising, get a head begin indoors in your favourite transplanted crops whereas establishing cold-hardy greens in workable soils. Leeks, onions, tomatoes, peppers, celery, and brassica-family crops profit from early spring seeding in trays indoors.
In case your soil is workable and thawed, you possibly can direct seed mâche, arugula, spinach, kale, or beets. Don’t overlook to make use of a soil probe to verify your soil temperatures each indoors in trays and outdoors within the backyard.