In the Vegetable Garden – February, 2018

  • January 31, 2018

Small fingerling potatoes can be planted whole, larger potatoes can be cut into pieces the size of an egg.

by Patty Leander

I hope you survived the deep freeze of January, and it is my hope that we won’t see similar weather in February …I’ll take sizzling heat over the frigid cold any day! Thankfully these cold snaps are short-lived here in Central Texas, and the protection provided by row cover and frost cloth allow our prized veggies to come through unscathed. Not all of my plants got covered, but even without the benefit of protection many still came through like cold weather champs – kale, Brussels sprouts, collards, onions and garlic showed how tough they are. Radishes, carrots and turnips didn’t fare so well above ground, but the roots below were just fine.
February is generally considered our last call for cool season vegetables. If planted in March or later, these crops will be forced to mature as temperatures start inching into the nineties, and that is nothing but an invitation to insects, bitterness and bolting. This time of year, look for early-maturing varieties of broccoli, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, carrots and beets that will reach harvest size in 50-60 days. If garden space is at a premium, consider growing these vegetables in containers in order to preserve space in your main garden for planting your favorite warm-season vegetables.

 

Here is the vegetable gardener’s checklist for February:

  • Gradually expose tomato transplants to warm and sunny conditions; place them outdoors in a protected area with bright

    Plant ‘Amish’ sugar snap peas now and harvest from tall, productive vines in about two months.

    sunlight as often as possible for strong growth.

  • Plant asparagus and artichoke crowns.
  • Plant potatoes this month. It’s best to purchase certified seed potatoes so you know you are getting potatoes that are free from disease. Fingerlings and small potatoes can be planted whole; large potatoes can be cut into small pieces that have at least one or two eyes. Place the pieces in a warm, dark location with good air circulation (not in a covered container) for a few days so the cut can dry out and heal before planting. This step reduces susceptibility to disease organisms that may be in the soil.
  • Plant English peas, sugar snap peas and snow peas early in the month.
  • Plant herbs and flowers in and around the garden.
  • As the temperatures warm, monitor vegetables for aphids, harlequin bugs and other damaging pests.
  • Fertilize onions every 3 weeks with a high nitrogen granular fertilizer (about ½ cup per 10-foot row). Scratch it into the soil a few inches away from onion plants, being careful not to disturb their shallow root system. Water lightly after fertilizing.
  • If you are feeling lucky, plant a few tomatoes in the garden the end of this month. Be sure to wrap cages with row cover or plastic to protect your transplants. If the forecast turns frigid close up the tops of the cages.

 

Shelter tomatoes from damaging spring winds with row cover or plastic. In the event of a cold snap, tie up the opening or place a large trash bag over the top. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

– All photos by Patty and Bruce Leander

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