Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February in the North Florida Food Garden from Gardener Ed

Warmer Spring weather will soon be upon us.  It’s not too late to plan and prepare your spring garden.  When planting or transplanting follow the directions on the seed packet.

Direct-seed outdoors:  Beets, carrots, and snow peas.  Arugula and lettuce may also be direct-seeded but have protection handy when frost is forecast. The same is true for tomato transplants.  They can go in at the end of the month.  Direct seeding is more successful when soil temperatures are above 60°F to 65°F.

Inside, in bright light, start seeds for transplanting after frost in late March and early April:  Basil, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, melons, peppers, summer and winter squash.  When transplanting cucurbits like cucumbers and squash, be very careful not to disturb the roots.

Broccoli can be planted now but may not take the hot weather later on in the season.  And of course white potatoes can be planted now; varieties like Red Pontiac and Red LaSoda.  Potatoes are traditionally planted on Valentine’s Day; but a few weeks either way may not matter.  Earlier is better than later.

February is still a good time to plant small fruits and citrus.  Roots will have time to develop in preparation for the hot and sometimes dry summer weather.  Keep new shrubs and trees watered through summer and early fall. Don’t drown them.  Don’t dig the planting hole deeper than the root ball. It’s advisable to have the top of the root-ball an inch or two above the soil surface.  Provide a moat for water around the plant beginning at the root ball and extending out six or more inches.

Happy gardening.

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