It’s still winter outside, but you can use this time to get a head start on the growing season! Check out these ideas for seeds to start in February – plus some tips for success…
February is always when the winter starts to really drag for me, so it’s a great time to cheer myself up by doing some garden planning! Even if it’s cold and gloomy out, I can look forward to the warm days ahead by dreaming of what I’m going to plant in just a few short months. In fact, depending on where you live, there may even be some seeds you can start in February.
Here are a few seeds that you should start in February in order to get a head start on the growing season. Some of the most important seeds to plant early include:
Greens & Cool-Weather Crops:
-Arugula and other cool-weather salad greens
These crops prefer cooler temperatures and will tend to “bolt” or go to seed when the weather gets hot, so it’s best to plant them early. That said, you do want to make sure to protect your new seedlings from below-freezing temperatures, so starting them indoors can give them a good head start before you put them out in the garden when the weather starts to warm up a bit.
Alliums (Onions, Shallots, etc.)
The short growing season in the northern parts of the US and Canada means that starting shallot or onion seeds in February is the best way to make sure your bulbs have time to size up before next fall. If you live in a warmer climate, you can start onion seeds in late January or early February. Onions and shallots planted from seed tend to produce bigger bulbs than those planted from starts – at least in my opinion – and starting them indoors helps to reduce germination and pest issues that can impact your crop.
Peas & Hardy Beans
February marks the beginning of the coldest and longest winter season in many parts of the Northern hemisphere. That means it’s a great time to sow hardy legumes like fava beans and peas, which do best in cooler weather. Peas especially are a cool-season crop, which means they need temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive, and the shorter days of winter make sowing them indoors a more feasible option. If you’re still expecting lots of below-freezing temperatures, you can start them indoors in flats, or, if you live a bit further south, you may be able to plant the seeds directly out in the garden by mid-February.
Slower-growing herbs are great seeds to start in February, as they will take several weeks to grow large enough to plant outdoors. Parsley, thyme, marjoram, oregano, and rosemary are all good herbs to start early indoors from seed.
What About Summer Crops?
If you live in an area where your last frost falls in April, you may also be able to start warm-season crops indoors in February, such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. (Here in Ohio, it’s still a bit early for that, so we’ll have to wait a few more weeks to get those going.)
Starting Seeds in February: 8 Tips for Success
Starting seedlings indoors in February is a great way to get your plants off to a fast start in the garden, and it’s also a great way to avoid potential problems with cold weather. Here are some secrets to success with planting seedlings indoors in February:
1. Start your seeds indoors at least two weeks before the desired transplanting date. This will help them to develop a strong root system and withstand cold weather.
2. Choose a soil-based seed starter mix made for your climate. Do not use a mix specifically designed for vegetables or flowers – this will result in poor growth and seed germination. Adding a bit of finished compost to your planting mix will help to improve the soil quality and promote healthy root development.
3. Make sure the soil is evenly moist before planting. A dry seedbed will result in poor germination and lackluster growth.
4. Water regularly and deeply, but do not overwater your plants. Overwatering can cause root rot and other problems.
5. Make sure your plants have enough light. Place the seedlings in a sunny location and water them regularly.
6. Fertilize your seedlings only once they have germinated. Fertilizing too early can retard germination, stunt growth, or even kill your new seedlings.
7. Keep your seedlings warm. You can do this by leaving them in a warm, dry place or by using a heating pad (this option is best for plants that prefer warm temperatures, like peppers and tomatoes).
8. Protect your plants from extreme cold until you have “hardened them off” and are ready to plant outdoors.
Check out this quick video for some more helpful tips on what seeds to start in February, and how to do it: