If you have a few gardens under your belt, you know that the spring garden in the Gulf South begins in February. While there is a high probability that there is still a little cold weather to come, there are enough “good” days in February to allow you to get outside and start getting your garden ready for the official March 20th spring kick off.
Vegetable and Herb Gardens
If you are seed starter, then now is the time to get busy. Most annuals for the vegetable garden and the flower beds can be started indoors six weeks before you want to put them outside. Simply determine your last freeze date and count backwards to determine when to start your squash, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant and tomatillos. It is also time to plant potatoes. Plant your cut and healed potatoes two to three inches deep if you plan on hilling them. Plant 6” deep if you don’t want to hill. Basil can also be started indoors now but do not plant it outside until all threat of frost has passed. Some things like green just do better when planted in the ground. I generally plant mine around March first and hope for the best. If a late freeze gets them, I just replant.
Perennial and Annual Bloomers
I love my flowers so I love to get a jump on spring. Just like veggies, six weeks before you want to put them out, start seeds of zinnia, celosia and old timey petunias, pictured above.
February is also a great time to plant ornamental perennials if you can find them. I absolutely love phlox, pictured above. There are many good ones available, especially as pass alongs. However, if you need buy look for John Fanick phlox. This lovely, sweet scented and hardy phlox was introduced by Greg Grant and has established itself as one of the best for the Gulf South.
February is also a great time to do a shaping prune on your rose bushes.
Fruit and Nuts
Fruit and nut trees are beginning to wake up. Many are already in flower. Their blooms are so beautiful that I am always happy to see them. However, they also fill me will a small sense of dread. Once those flower buds open they are susceptible to freeze. Cross your fingers that this last cold snap is going to be the last big thing mother nature throws at us for a while.
When temperatures are above 50 degrees, move your transplants outside onto a porch or into a lighly shaded area. They natural sunlight will begin to harden off your transplants and the breezes the encounter will make their stems much more sturdy. While this is a good idea for all seedlings, tomatoes and peppers will especially thank you.