February is still bitterly cold in many parts of the U.S. In southern states, the days may start getting warmer in preparation for the spring. Don’t worry about whether the groundhog sees his shadow or not. We’ve got plenty of gardening activities to keep you busy until you can get your hands in the garden again.
Feed the Birds
February is a hard month for many birds in the U.S. Their typical food supply runs low this month, making it difficult for them to thrive during the cold. You might be leery of feeding birds, especially if you’ve seen them eating seeds or plants from your garden. However, birds are a critical part of the environment. Without birds, your plants would suffer.
Many bird species will pluck insects off of your garden plants. Tomato hornworms, beetles and other insects make up a large part of a wild bird’s diet. You should encourage them to spend time around your plants. The more insects they remove, the less you have to pluck off.
Encourage birds to hang out in your garden and yard by feeding them this month, when they need it most. Hang bird feeders in areas close to your garden and flower beds. Not only will you develop a beneficial relationship with the local birds, you’ll enjoy watching them fly around your feeders, bringing life to a yard that might look pretty dreary otherwise.
Finalize Garden Plans
Although February is cold, you probably spent the last month thinking about what you want to grow and making plans. You’ve likely circled all of your favorite new varieties in your Park Seed plant catalog. It’s time to finalize those plans and decide on the plants you’re going to grow.
Seeds and seed starting supplies will be in hot demand in a few weeks, so it’s best to get your order in. Order before the rush to make sure you get the supplies you want and any specific seed varieties you’re interested in.
Depending on your growing zone, you may need to start some seeds. Southern growing zones can start seeds sooner than northern zones. Use the information below to decide what you need to focus on this month based on your zone.
Gardening Activities: What to Do in the Garden in February Based on Your Zone
February is still a bitterly cold month in Zone 3. The time is winding down until the weather starts to warm again. Use this month to finalize your plans and take care of any organizing or prepping you need to do before the growing season starts.
Although it’s not time to start seeds just yet, it is time to order them and your supplies. You’ll want to order them now to beat the rush and ensure that you have everything in place to start your seeds when the time comes. Decide on the varieties or plants that you want and get that order in. Don’t forget to order indoor seed starters, like Bio Dome, and the fertilizer that you will need.
Take the time this month to clean out your garden shed and do basic maintenance on your tools. Toss out any expired chemicals, busted containers or anything else that has seen better days. Clean up your garden tools and oil them. While you’re in the garden shed, make a dedicated space for bird seed so that you can continue feeding your birds.
Have you been itching to get your hands in the dirt? You can this month! Well, you can get some seeds started. Some cool weather plants can be started indoors this month. You won’t have enough sunlight coming through a window yet, but you can start seeds under grow lights. You can start celery, lettuce, onions or cold hardy flowers like pansies.
Take the time this month to make sure you have the rest of your supplies ready. Order any other seeds or seed starting supplies that you’re lacking.
You’ll be busy this month if you live in Zone 5 or 6! Not only can you start some cold hardy seeds, you can start some other seeds also. You might even be able to direct sow some seeds outdoors.
You can start seeds for cold hardy vegetables like lettuce, celery, onions, pansies, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or early tomatoes. You won’t have enough natural light yet for them, so be sure to put a grow light over them.
If you have cold frames or a greenhouse, you can start sowing cold hardy seeds outside. Spinach and radishes will handle the cold well and you can harvest them before it’s time to plant your summer vegetables.
You can also plant bushes, roses or trees that you want to add to your property this month. Once the ground is thawed enough to plant, get those plants into the ground. This is also the last chance to prune back some of your established trees, shrubs or rose bushes. Be sure to prune anything back before it starts to get buds next month.
You can really start getting your hands dirty this month. Plant cool weather crops outdoors. Spinach, leafy greens, celery, and cruciferous vegetables can be planted outside. Don’t plant all of your lettuce and greens at once. Plant a little each week so that you have a steady supply to harvest from.
Keep row covers handy just in case you get a cold snap with a hard frost. Towards the end of the month, you can plant your potatoes. Potatoes have a long growing season, so get them in the ground early enough to ensure you can harvest them before it gets cold again.
If you have fruit trees, give them some last minute care this month. Prune them up before they bud out. A lime-sulfur spray can be applied this month to get a head start on the pests that will be attracted to your fruit plants once they start budding out.
If you haven’t yet, add compost and manure to your garden soil. Work it into the soil before you plant. Your summer vegetables can be started indoors this month. Go ahead and start your tomatoes, eggplants and peppers inside. There won’t be enough natural sunlight for them indoors, so make sure that you put a grow light over them.
You can also start your summer flowers indoors. Give geraniums, petunias and other flowers a headstart by getting them germinating. Most people remember to start vegetable plants, but it’s easy to forget about your flowers.
There are a ton of plants you can plant outdoors this month. February is the perfect time to plant roses, trees, or shrubs. You can also plant a fair amount of cool season vegetables and flowers outside. Peas, radishes, greens, lettuce, and onions can be planted into your vegetable garden. Flowers that are cold hardy can be planted outdoors.
Start planting into your garden this month. You can direct sow cucumbers, corn, radishes, beets, and carrots this month. Choose radishes, beets, and carrots that are fast growing so you can harvest them before temperatures get too warm. If you started peppers indoors, transplant them into the garden. You can also start some hot weather seeds indoors. Start seeds for okra and sweet potatoes indoors this month.
This is your last chance to prune back any outdoor trees or shrubs. If you have bulbs, trees, roses, and shrubs, you want to get them into the ground this month. Spray any fruit trees this month while they are dormant to get a head start on pests or diseases.
Post by Shelby DeVore, founder of Farminence (.com) and the host of the Backyard Vegetable Gardener’s Summit (.com). Shelby is a passionate gardener with 20+ years of experience gardening and growing food at home. She recently moved to north Texas with her husband and three children where she’s excited to explore a new gardening zone and build a new farm.