February Cold Regions Planting and Garden Checklist

Here is a vegetable and fruit planting guide for cold regions for the month of February and a food garden checklist. Snow and ice and freezing temperatures will prevail in cold regions this month. Cold regions include:

USDA Zones 4, 5, 6, and 7:

(These growing zones in the United States include the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and the Rocky Mountain and Plains states.)

Vegetables: Sow cool-season vegetables and herbs indoors in flats and jiffy pots during February.

Cool season vegetables include: cabbage, cauliflower, celery, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli.

Fruit Trees and Berries:

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, dead wood, 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 help 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 loose more 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 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.

Garden Planning and Maintenance:

Start a garden record. Include dates of sowing, transplanting, varieties, blooming dates and pertinent notes about each crop. This record will allow you to correct problems in coming years.

Check winter mulches protecting plants.

Irrigate the garden after severe winter storms.

Inventory your supplies: order vegetable seeds, bare-root plants for April planting.

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 which can be driven into the ground will help.

Indoors, Cold frames and Hotbeds: Install a cold frame to protect tender plants. 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.

Assemble flats, soil and tools for early sowing. Deep flats—about 5 inches (15 cm) work best for seedlings that are slow growing. 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.

Slow growing seeds can be sown now.

Here is a list of early starters for the hotbed: lima beans, lettuce, turnips, radishes, beets, carrots, muskmelon, lettuce, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, eggplants, watermelon, squash, balm, basil, borage, caraway, lavender, clary, fennel, dill, sweet marjoram, rosemary, thyme, New Zealand spinach.

In the greenhouse, plant tomato seed late in February. These will be ready for the garden with blooms by mid-May. Spring onion sets can be set in deep plats and covered with 1 inch (2.5 cm) of soil mix; provide them with 50-55ºF (10-13ºC) and moderate light.