February Vegetable Garden

Crops in winter leeks and cabbage1

Sharing is caring!

February is a busy month for the kitchen gardener. In many regions, indoor and outdoor sowing and planting is underway. Some gardeners already have seeds in the ground. In the coldest regions, where there is snow on the ground, February is still the time for making plans and preparing for spring.

Planting in February

Snow and ice will prevail in many regions of the Northern Hemisphere during February. Where there is no snow on the ground the temperatures will almost certainly remain near freezing. These regions in the United States include the Northeast, the Rocky Mountains and Plains, and the Mid-Atlantic.

In more temperate regions such as the Mid-South frost will continue and in the Gulf and South Atlantic Coasts, the Pacific Northwest, and the Pacific Southwest and the Desert regions the danger of frost will continue.

In regions where it is possible to start planting this month, do so. You will get a jump on the growing season and the harvests to come.

Cold northern regions—Zones 3-6. Vegetables: artichoke suckers, broad beans, Chinese cabbage, cress, kohlrabi, lettuce, onion, peas, spring onion, parsnip, peas, potato tubers, rhubarb crowns, rutabaga (Swedes), salsify, Swiss chard (silverbeet), spinach, turnips. Herbs: garlic, parsley.

Temperate Regions—Zones 7-9. Vegetables: artichoke suckers, beets (beetroot), cabbage, cape gooseberry, capsicum, carrots, celery, chayote (choko), chicory, cress, endive, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, spring onions, parsnip, peas, potato tubers, radish, rhubarb crowns, salsify, Swiss chard (silverbeet), tomato. Herbs: basil, borage, caraway, chamomile, chervil, chicory, chili, coriander, dill, garlic, marigold, parsley.

Subtropical and Tropical Regions—Zones 10-12. Vegetables: beans, beet (beetroot), cabbage, cape gooseberry, capsicum, carrots, celery, chayote (choko), Chinese cabbage, cress, cucumber, fennel, lettuce, marrow, melons, mustard, parsnip, peas, potatoes, pumpkin, radish, rhubarb crowns, salsify, Swiss chard (silverbeet), spring onion, squash, strawberry runners, sweet corn, sweet potato, tomato, zucchini. Herbs: basil, borage, caraway, chamomile, celeriac, chervil, coriander, dill, garlic, hyssop, lemon balm, marjoram, oregano, parsley, salad burnet, thyme.

February harvest

February is, no doubt, a cold and stormy month in the northern half of the world, and cabbage and kale are popular vegetables for harvesting and cooking this month.

Here is a list of other vegetables and fruits that will come to harvest in February in some regions of the northern hemisphere: Vegetables: asparagus, Brussels sprouts, carrot, celeriac, Chinese cabbage, kale, lettuce, mustard, peas, peas, purslane, rutabaga (Swede), spinach, turnips, witlof chicory. Fruit: avocadoes, grapefruit, kiwifruit, lemons, limes, mandarins, Navel oranges.

First of the season: Avocadoes, dates, blood oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, navel oranges, tangerines, scarlet turnips.

Peak of the season: Almonds, arugula, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, celery root, chard, chipotles, dried fruit, dried garlic and onions, herb starts, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, kiwi, leeks, mushrooms, dried onions, mandarin oranges, pistachios, pomegranates, pomelos, potatoes, olive oil, olives, radishes, raisins, salad mix, scallions, sorrel, spinach, sweet potatoes, squash (delicate, butternut, Kabocha, acorn, hydroponic tomatoes, turnips, winter squash, yams, fresh herbs including rosemary, oregano, bay leaves.

End of the season: Apples, cilantro, collards, pears, persimmons, potatoes, sweet potatoes, sorrel.

February garden tasks

Here are some of the actions you take this month to get your garden growing:

Plan and design. Plan the spring and summer garden on paper. Sketch a base plan. Consider the location of the house, garage, shed, fences, walls, and large trees that will cast shadows across the garden. Vegetables require at least 6 hours of sun each day to thrive. Locate your garden near a water source. If you’ve grown a vegetable garden before consider new crops this year and plan out succession plantings. Consult garden books for suggestions. If this is your first garden, monitor your planting area and map where the snow melts first, these will be good spots for planting early crops. Consider the light, water, and nutrient needs of each crop and crop family. Plant crops with similar needs or crops from the same families close together.

Consider your time and effort. If your time and space are limited, choose six varieties to grow this year. You’ll get the most for your money and effort from tomatoes, snap beans, carrots, and greens such as lettuce and chard.

Succession and companion plantings. Succession planting (growing one crop after another during the growing season) takes advantage of every day in the growing season. Plan succession crops by plotting germination and harvest days for each crop and then plan which crop can follow the crop before given the length of the growing season, an example, warm-weather bush lima beans can follow cool-weather peas. Companion cropping matches a fast-growing small crop with a slow-maturing crop, an example, quick-growing radishes planted between slow-maturing carrots, or shade-tolerant peas planted beneath corn.

Record keeping. Set up your garden record-keeping system now. Keep track of dates of varieties, sowing, transplanting, blooming dates, and notes about each crop. Planting and harvest dates can be used for planning succession crops. Make a garden map to keep track of just what was planted and where; this map will be invaluable should your garden labels become misplaced or illegible. These records will help you plan your garden in the following years.

Seed orders. Study online and mail-order catalogs and order seeds and plants for spring.

Garden tools and frames. Clean and repair tools early this month. Repair cold frames and hotbeds and make sure they are ready for use.

Seed sowing items. Assemble flats, soil, and tools for sowing. Use flats about 5 inches deep for slow-growing seedlings. Use a seed starting mix or a soil mix of two parts garden loam, one part sand, and one part leaf mold or humus. A hand seed sower may be helpful.

Indoor seed sowing in cold regions. Check seed packets to determine the number of days from sowing to germination. Sow hardy and half-hardy vegetable seeds about 6 to 8 weeks before seedlings can be hardened off in the cold frame or under cloches in the garden–usually 6 to 8 weeks before the average last frost date in spring. Do not start seeds indoors too early. Sow cool-weather spring corps first: beets, cabbage family crops, celeriac, leaf lettuce and salad greens, bulb onions, parsley, radish, spinach, and turnips. At the end of the month, sow the seeds of tender warm-weather summer-harvest vegetables such as eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes that require 12 weeks or more indoors. When the seeds sprout, place them beneath bright lights. Set seed-starting cell packs in water trays with a copper-based fungicide to prevent damping off. Ventilate the greenhouse or hotbed on warm days to prevent the buildup of diseases in the damp environment.

Cold frame in mild-winter regions. Sow cool-weather spring crops in the cold frame in milder regions: beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, lettuce and salad greens, onions, and parsley. Make sure that the soil in the seedbed is not overly nitrogen rich; this will cause succulent growth when early-season plants are better strong and stocky before transplanting. Plants that have been started indoors can be hardened off in the cold frame before being planted out in the garden. Ventilate the cold frame when the outside temperature rises above 40ºF. Close the frame again before sundown. If the soil is dry in the cold frame 6 inches down, provide a slow, deep watering directly in the soil on a warm day. Avoid wetting plant leaves

Rhubarb. Plant rhubarb roots in compost-rich soil spaced three feet apart. An open, sunny place is best. Rhubarb likes plenty of water during the growing season and is a heavy feeder; apply aged manure heavily and turn it under.

Spring onions. Plant small onion sets closely in a flat or box and cover with about 1 inch of soil and provide moderate light for spring onions next month.

Tomatoes. Tomato seeds sown in February will result in plants with one truss of bloom for the garden by mid-May.

Garden soil preparation. Check winter mulch around perennial vegetables, brambles, and fruit trees, and add more if needed. Press frost-heaved plants back into the soil. Where weather permits and soil is dry enough to be worked, prepare planting beds this month. Turn, spade, or till the garden when the soil is not wet. Add lime if your soil is too acidic. Mow winter cover crops and green manures and turn them under if the soil is dry enough to cultivate. Add 2 inches of aged garden compost to planting beds. If you won’t be planting for 6 weeks, add an inch of well-aged manure to each bed.

Direct seed. Take a handful of garden soil and give it a squeeze; if the soil crumbles and fall apart, you can direct sow crops. To warm the soil for early sowing, cover the bed with polyethylene. Carrots, onions, and early potatoes can be seeded in warm, sandy soil. Other cool-weather crops that can be sown where the soil is workable are beets, cabbage plants, carrots, cauliflower plants, chard, lettuce, mustard, onions plants and sets, peas, Irish potatoes, salsify, spinach, and turnips. Check seed packets to make sure the varieties you are planting are suitable for early sowing. Most seed requires a soil temperature of 45ºF or greater to germinate; use a soil thermometer to check before you sow. Delay planting until the soil is warm otherwise you risk seeds rotting or poor germination. Be ready to cover plants with cloches, row covers, and plastic tunnels if the weather turns cold.

Compost. Start new compost bins this month.

Squash boxes. Make cheesecloth covered frames to put over melon, squash, and cucumber hills to keep out cucumber beetles and squash bugs later this spring. A cover should be about three feet square and one-foot high.

Fruit trees and vines. Transplant deciduous fruit trees and vines during the dormant season. Give new transplants plenty of water, both at planting time and afterwards.

Prune fruit trees and vines when the weather allows: apples, pears, berries, brambles, and grapes. Remove broken and damaged branches. Complete pruning while the plants are still dormant.

Prune autumn-fruiting raspberries. Cut vines that fruited last autumn back to ground level. Raspberries planted last spring should be cut back to about 12 inches above soil level. Tip back summer-fruiting raspberries to just above the top wire and cut down newly planted canes to about 9 inches. Prune back the stems of newly planted and two-year-old gooseberries by about one-half. Spray gooseberries and black currants for gooseberry mildew.

Spray fruit trees for over-wintering pests with dormant oil spray when the temperature is greater than 45ºF; this must be completed while plants are still dormant. Spray peaches, nectarines, and almonds with a copper-based fungicide to prevent peach-leaf curl. Spray apples and pears prone to scab infection. Spray fruit trees no later than when buds begin to swell. Apply a second spray to trees susceptible to peach-leaf curl about 14 days after the first application.

Plant fig, blackberries, blueberries, currant bushes, raspberries, and strawberries. Fertilize established citrus and tropical fruits.

Mulch all newly planted trees, bush, and cane fruits with well-rotted compost. Mulch grapevines and gooseberries with well-rotted manure or compost.

Regional garden guide for February

Regional gardening suggestions are divided into 4 major geographical areas: North and East and Midwest (zones 2 in the northernmost areas to 6 along the coast), the South (zones 7 in the north to 10 in the far south), the Southwest and California (zones 7 in the coolest areas to 11), and the Northeast (zones 5 in the highest elevations to 8 along the coast).

North and East and Midwest

Plan the spring and summer vegetable gardens. Force rhubarb and endive. Sow indoors early cabbage, cauliflower, celery, radishes, peppers, and tomatoes. Late in the month where the ground can be worked, set out asparagus roots, horseradish, onion sets, and rhubarb. Lift over-wintered parsnips. Late in the month, plant early potatoes in hotbeds.


Sow or plant in the garden where the ground can be worked asparagus, beets, black-eyed peas, broccoli, cabbage plants, carrots, cauliflower plants, chard, collards, endive, kale, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, onion sets or plants, parsley, peas, Irish potatoes, radish, spinach, turnip. Be sure to check the average date of the last frost in your area before setting out transplants. Late in the month in far southern regions where all danger of frost has passed set out starts: tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers (be ready to protect these crops should the temperature drop). Sow indoors early this month with warm weather crops: bush and pole beans, limas, butterbeans, squash, cucumbers, cantaloupe, pumpkin, and watermelons. Most of these crops will require 7 to 8 weeks of growing before they will be large enough to transplant into the garden.

Southwest and California

Early in the month, plant perennial vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, rhubarb, and horseradish while roots are still dormant. In warm, sandy soil, plant potatoes. By mid-month, set transplants out into the early spring garden: beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, chard, Italian sprouting broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, mustard, onion seedlings and sets, parsley, Irish potatoes in well-composted soil, radishes, and turnips. By the end of the month in all areas, sow indoors warm weather crops: bush and pole beans, limas, butterbeans, cantaloupe, cucumber, eggplant, peppers, pumpkin, squash, tomatoes, and watermelons. Do not place any warm-season plants in the garden until the night temperatures stay above 50°F. Avocados can be planted this month to ensure they develop good leaf growth before summer. Young trees can be protected against trunk sunburn by constructing simple shade cloth frames to shade trunks on the south and west.


Early this month where the soil is sandy and warms more quickly, sow carrots, onion seeds, and early potatoes. Do not plant in cold, wet soil. Where the weather remains cold, make a cold frame or hotbed. About the third week of the month, start cool-weather crops: asparagus roots, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, lettuce, onions, peas, early potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, turnips. By the end of the month make a second planting of peas.

February garden in the Southern Hemisphere

February is late summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Autumn will come officially to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile on March 21.

Planting slows down in the late summer garden. Spring cabbage can be sown this month and so can parsley for winter harvest. Now is the time for the last sowing of lettuce. Spring cabbage that was sown last month can be transplanted into the garden now.

Harvesting is in full swing in the February summer garden. Lift onions and dry them in the sun before storing them. Continue to pick beans, courgettes, squash, and tomatoes as they ripen. Harvest these as they ripen and less mature crops still on the vine will ripen more quickly.

February planting in the Southern Hemisphere

There is still plenty of warm weather left in the Southern Hemisphere this month before summer comes to a close in March. That means it is important to water consistently to enhance the final development of fruits and vegetables and to make sure they don’t split in hot weather. Now is the time to place a layer of mulch around the base of citrus and berries. And you can still get in one more planting of capsicum seedlings and beans in the cooler regions.

But the days are starting to grow shorter in the temperate and cooler regions and the time is now to begin planting cool weather and winter crops like cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and peas.

If you planting vegetables in the Southern Hemisphere– Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile–this month here is a list of crops to sow in the temperate, cold, tropical, and sub-tropical regions:

  • Temperate regions: Vegetables: beans, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chicory, cress, eggplant, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard, spring onions, parsnip, peas, potato tubers, radish, rhubarb crowns, rutabaga (Swede), salsify, shallots, silverbeet (Swiss chard), spinach, turnips. Herbs: angelica, borage, chervil, chicory, chives, hyssop, parsley.
  • Tropical and subtropical northern regions: Vegetables: artichoke suckers, beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, cape gooseberry, capsicum, carrots, celery, Chinese cabbage, cress, cucumber, eggplant, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, marrow, melons, mustard, okra, onions, spring onions, parsnip, potato tubers, pumpkin, radish, rhubarb crown, rutabaga (Swede), silverbeet (Swiss chard), squash, sweet corn, sweet potato, tomato, turnip, zucchini. Herbs: Angelica, basil, borage, caraway, chives, fennel, hyssop, salad burnet.
  • Cooler southern regions: Vegetables: beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, chicory, cress, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, spring onions, parsnip, radish, rhubarb crowns, rutabaga (Swede), salsify, shallots, silverbeet (Swiss chard), spinach, turnips. Herbs: caraway, chervil, chives, parsley, salad burnet.

February is late summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Autumn will come officially to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, Uruguay,and Chile on March 21.

Planting slows down in the late summer garden. Spring cabbage can be sown this month and so can parsley for winter harvest. Now is the time for the last sowing of lettuce. Spring cabbage that was sown last month can be transplanted into the garden now.

Harvesting is in full swing in the February summer garden. Lift onions and dry them in the sun before storing them. Continue to pick beans, courgettes, squash, and tomatoes as they ripen. Harvest these as they ripen and less mature crops still on the vine will ripen more quickly.

February harvest in the Southern Hemisphere

Here is a roundup of vegetables and fruits ready for harvest during February in the Southern Hemisphere:

  • Vegetable harvest: beans, capsicum (peppers), carrots, green chilies, corn, lettuce, melons, pumpkins, purslane, turnips, and zucchini.
  • Fruits and nut harvest: almonds, apples, late apricots, avocadoes, brambleberries, cape gooseberries, gooseberries, grapes, figs, hazelnuts, lemons, melons, mulberries, nectarines, oranges, passionfruit, banana passionfruit, peaches, pears, plums, raspberries, strawberry guavas, strawberries, tamarillos.

More about February

About February:

February is the shortest month of the year—just 28 days, except years like this when there are 29. Years when February has 29 days are called Leap Years.

Most years have 365 days. This year will have 366 days.

Leap year comes every four years–that is every year which can be divided evenly by four (except the years that mark the even hundreds, such as 1900). The only century years that also are leap years are those than can be divided evenly by 400, such as 2000.

What is this all about?

Leap years are simply a man-made way to help our man-made calendar years jive with the real-world solar years, the length of time required for the earth to circle the sun completely.

All of that said, February takes its name from februum the Latin word for purification. In ancient Rome, February 15 was the day for an annual rite of purification. Other ancient northern hemisphere cultures had more apt descriptive names for February. The Anglo-Saxons called February Solmoneth, which means month of mud. The Anglo-Saxons also dubbed February Kale-monath, which means cabbage month.

Save Money. Grow More Vegetables. Click here to see our book, THE KITCHEN GARDEN GROWERS’ GUIDE

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

How To Grow Tips

How To Grow Tomatoes

How To Grow Peppers

How To Grow Broccoli

How To Grow Carrots

How To Grow Beans

How To Grow Corn

How To Grow Peas

How To Grow Lettuce

How To Grow Cucumbers

How To Grow Zucchini and Summer Squash

How To Grow Onions

How To Grow Potatoes

Seed starting supplies

Seed-Starting Vegetables in January

Pepper seedlings

Seed Starting Vegetables in February