February is a great time to look at seed catalogs, looking forward to warm spring days, preparing garden plots, and getting ready for a productive season. Below are a few things to do during February in the garden.
Gardeners might want to consider thinking about transplant production depending on their planting dates. Peppers and eggplants will take eight weeks to grow from seed to transplant size, while tomatoes will take six weeks. When the seedlings form their third set of true leaves, transplant them to individual containers. A great resource for starting plants from seed is the UGA Publication “Starting Plants from Seed for the Home Garden.”
Gardeners need to think about land preparation for planting. Soil samples need to be taken and sent to the Extension office. Winter and early spring plantings belong on a ridge (raised bed) for better drainage and earlier soil warm-up.
Root knot nematode is a common issue for home gardeners. If nematodes were a problem last year, make plans to plant another crop less susceptible to nematodes in the infected area. The goal is to keep plant-parasitic nematode numbers at a low level. Although there are no nematode pesticides available for home gardeners, no single method eliminates nematodes. Gardeners need to look at cultural management methods. Nematode management strategies may include: (1) rotating crops to non-hosts of the problem nematode, (2) planting varieties with nematode resistance, (3) planting nematode-suppressive cover crops, (4) increasing soil organic matter and microbial diversity, and (5) solarization.
Resources for nematode control in gardens include:
Make early plantings of your choice from the following: carrots, collards, lettuce, mustard, English peas, Irish potatoes, radishes, spinach and turnips.
Use “starter” fertilizer solution around transplanted crops such as cabbage.
Seed herbs for April planting. Make a list of the ones that are best to buy rather than seed, such as French tarragon and rosemary. Ask the county agent for a copy of Herbs in Southern Gardens.