Snow and ice and freezing temperatures will prevail in cold winter regions this month. Spring is still 8 to 12 weeks away. Cold winter regions include USDA Zones 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 which include the Northeast, Upper Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and the Rocky Mountain, Plains states, and most of Canada.
February Indoor Seed Sowing in Cold Regions
- Assemble flats, soil, and tools for early seed sowing. Use a soil mixture that is 2 parts garden loam, 1 part sand, and 1 part peat moss or humus. A hand seed-sower will assist indoor planting.
- Vegetables that can be started indoors or in the hotbed include cabbage, cauliflower, celery, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, lima beans, lettuce, turnips, radishes, beets, carrots, muskmelon, lettuce, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, eggplants, watermelon, squash, and New Zealand spinach.
- Spring onion sets can be set in deep flats and covered with 1 inch (2.5 cm) of soil mix; provide them with 50-55ºF (10-13ºC) and moderate light.
- Herbs that can be started indoors are basil, borage, caraway, lavender, clary, fennel, dill, lemon balm, sweet marjoram, rosemary, and thyme.
- Ventilate the cold frame when the temperature is above 45°F (7ºC).
- Keep cold frames covered. Do not allow plants in the cold frame to thaw out. Repeat freezing and thawing will harm or kill plants.
February Garden Planning and Maintenance in Cold Regions
- Start a garden diary for this year. Include dates of sowing, transplanting, varieties, blooming dates and pertinent notes about each crop.
- Inventory your seed starting supplies. Order vegetable seeds, bare-root plants for April planting.
- Check winter mulches protecting plants.
- Irrigate the garden after severe winter storms.
- Clean and sharpen garden tools.
- Squash boxes: Here’s a project for winter days. Make cheesecloth or horticultural fabric-covered frames to put over melon, squash or cucumber hills to keep out destructive cucumber beetles and squash bugs. A cover 3 feet square and 1 foot high, with corner posts that can be driven into the ground, will help.
Also of interest: Easy Vegetable Garden Planning
February Fruit Tree and Berry Maintenace in Cold Regions
- Most fruits, including pears, plums, apples, and bush fruits such as gooseberries and currants should be pruned on any except a very cold day.
- Prune grapes now if you haven’t done so already.
- Remove suckers and growth damaged by ice and snow, deadwood, broken branches, or crossing branches.
- Check the winter protection for trees and plants. Slender fruit trees of moderate height bent over by ice storms can be righted as soon as the ice melts off. Trees can be held in place by guy wires and tree supports.
- If storms have cracked any tree branches and left them hanging, cut them off cleanly before they sway and rip the bark.
- Watch for signs of overwintering insects and diseases such as borers, caterpillar nests, galls, and scale.
- Outdoor spraying requires a minimum air of temperature of 40ºF (4º) and 50ºF (10ºC) is best. Mummified fruits clinging to twigs of apples or other twigs can be disease-laden, so pick them off and dispose of or burn.
- Don’t shovel snow away from the root areas of trees—it does more good than harm.
- Barefoot fruit trees can be planted if the ground is ready to dig.
Also of interest: Young Fruit Trees Training and Pruning