February garden jobs including seeds to sow, crops to harvest, winter garden organization, and projects for the vegetable garden.
February is a great month to get ahead in the garden and make your start on this year’s productive vegetable garden. This selection of February garden jobs will help you learn how to choose and chit potatoes, organize your seeds, and discover exciting new projects, which will help you achieve a bumper harvest later in the year. You’ll also find a February garden job check-list at the bottom that you can use to help keep organized.
So why garden now? Some seeds have a long germination time and need time undercover to ripen for summer or winter crops. Getting ahead now is tremendously beneficial for successful harvests. February is not a dormant month, nor the time to dawdle. These February garden jobs will set you up for the forthcoming year, so get outside in the fresh air and get gardening.
Seeds to Sow in February
Even though February can be a cold month, you can sow many seeds both undercover and outdoors. If the ground isn’t frozen, now is the time to plant shallot sets, broad beans, and garlic directly in the soil. Each benefit from a cold spell, and in the case of hard-neck garlic, won’t form bulbs without several weeks of near-freezing temperatures. Though many gardeners plant organic garlic in autumn, you still have time to get bulbs in now. If you don’t have cold temperatures forecast, pop your garlic in the refrigerator for two or three weeks before planting it out next month.
Seeds that you can sow now undercover include winter salad leaves, sprouting broccoli, leeks, spinach, kohlrabi, peas, and onions. Undercover for these seeds can mean in an unheated greenhouse, but also on a bright windowsill in the house. Each of these germinates at relatively low temperatures (above 45°F/7°C) but at lower temperatures can take a long time to sprout. To encourage speedier germination, sow these seeds into trays or modules kept at around 65-70°F (18-21°C).
Heat-loving Seeds to Sow in February
If your winters are long and cold, then growing seeds undercover will give you a head start on tender plants. Propagators and grow lights can help get your seeds started early by providing extra warmth and light when both are in short supply. You then continue to grow the plants undercover for some weeks, then harden and plant them out after your region’s last frost in spring. Seeds you can sow in February undercover with heat include tomato, pepper, eggplant, globe artichoke, and chilis. These heat-loving seeds need warmth (60-86°F (16-30°C) to germinate so may need a heated propagator, heat-pad, or a bright windowsill above a radiator.
Chilies are an incredibly popular seed to sow in February and easy to grow too. With so many different varieties to choose from, you cannot fail to spice up your recipes with your homegrown harvest. Before you purchase seeds, check the variety against the Scoville scale to check how spicy it is. Popular types include ‘Habañero’ and ‘Jalapeño’ or for milder palettes ‘Anaheim’ or ‘Alam Paprika.’
Order and Chit Potatoes
February is a great time to order and chit seed potatoes. There are hundreds of potato varieties, but the ones that we tend to grow fall into categories of cooking type and how long they take to harvest. Early potatoes, called first earlies in Britain, generally take around 55-70 days from planting to harvest. Mid-season potatoes, also called second earlies, take 70-90 days, while late-season (maincrop potatoes) take 90-110 days to harvest.
Though many people grow potatoes from the supermarket, it’s best to order good quality disease-free tubers (seed potatoes) from commercial growers. Starting from healthy stock helps you to avoid introducing diseases into your growing space. If your region suffers from late blight, you might also want to consider blight-resistant varieties or only growing early potatoes to prevent losing your crop.
Though February is too early to plant potatoes in most regions, you can still chit seed potatoes. Chitting means encouraging seed potatoes to grow shoots before planting, and it could help the potato plants grow quicker. To chit, lay the seed potatoes in a single layer on a tray in a place with cool, indirect light. A windowsill or greenhouse is ideal. Place the tuber end with most eyes upright, and in a few weeks, ‘eyes’ or ‘chits’ will develop. Ideally, you want two to three vigorous, short shoots per seed potato before planting them out later in spring.
February is a perfect time to organize your seeds. We can all be guilty of hoarding a drawer of random seeds, so look through your stock and check the use-by dates. It is useful to categorize your seeds to find them quickly and not miss the planting window to get them in the ground. There are plenty of ways to go about it, but I’ve recently moved over to keeping my seeds in this storage case and love how simple it is to use.
There are many ways to organize seeds. You can group them by sowing month, seed type like tomatoes, legumes, herbs, or alphabetically – whatever efficiently works for you. Organizing your seeds will help you achieve sowing and growing success and ensures you don’t forget sowing them.
Another thing to consider when organizing seeds is being realistic about how much you can actually grow. You may find you have spares to give away to a local allotment or gardening club, and that’s a great way to get seeds used before their viability drops. You can also swap them against seeds that you genuinely want and will use this year.
Seed swaps are a great way to increase the varieties you grow and share with fellow gardeners. When in-person events aren’t possible, you could also attend a virtual seed swap. If there aren’t any events in the area, you can also organize your own seed swap.
February Garden Jobs
February is a great time to get organized for the season ahead and start with a clean slate. Begin by reorganizing and deep cleaning the greenhouse, pots, cloches, and labels. Check your tool kit and repair, service, and replace broken tools. Also, take time to sit down with a pad and pen and draw up your garden plan for this year. It will help you use your space most efficiently and decide what you want to grow where. Rotate your crops to reduce pests and diseases building up and nutrients depleting.
February is a great time to clear away dead foliage, fallen leaves, broken pots, and rubbish. You could also use this time to turn the compost heap and add any garden waste to the top. Other jobs include laying black plastic on beds to warm up the soil for early sowings and to finish up winter pruning. Prune autumn raspberries down to the ground to make way for new shoots. You can also prune apple and pear trees, thornless blackberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants, and redcurrants to maintain a productive framework.
Bare-root strawberry plants also tend to arrive in late winter, and you can plant them directly in the garden. If you still need to clean your strawberry bed, you can also plant them into pots to grow on in the greenhouse for now.
What to Harvest in February
There are plenty of hardy edibles that you can harvest in February. Winter-hardy edibles like rosemary, parsnips, and Taunton Deane kale flourish. Also leeks, very early purple sprouting broccoli, kale, and the first of the forced rhubarb – lookout for Timperley Early since it’s one of the earliest cropping rhubarb varieties.
In places with winters that don’t dip much below freezing, root vegetables such as carrots, oca, celeriac, and beetroot can be stored in the ground until needed. In some cases, the foliage above ground will die, but the root will remain tasty below ground. I also leave mature beetroot in the soil through early spring to produce an early crop of beet greens.
Planning for Next Year’s Winter Vegetables
Perennial vegetables are a great choice as they only need to be planted once for years of harvests. They are reliable and require less work, and some of them will be ready to harvest in February in milder climates. That includes perennial kale and the first of the garlic chive greens. If you’re into wild food foraging and they grow in your area, you can also harvest the first leaves of wild ramps and wild garlic.
Growing winter vegetables need planning, and you sow many plants in late spring or early summer to produce a winter crop. Make and set aside space since these plants will be in the ground for months. Decide what you are going to grow where and prepare the soil.
Mulching Jobs for February
February is the ideal month to get on top of weeds. By removing weeds now, you can slow down the annual invasion of unwanted seedlings before they go to seed and spread. Make sure you dig up the roots but be careful to avoid emerging bulbs. While you’re at it, mulch perennials with a generous covering of well-rotted organic matter. Two to three inches of garden compost or aged manure will provide nutrition, warmth, reduce weeds, and improve soil structure.
Another useful February garden job is to create a seedbed. A seedbed is a small area you have set aside in your garden dedicated to raising young plants before they are large enough to transplant to their final home in the veg patch. Seedbeds allow you to maximize productivity in your main beds, giving mature plants more time to crop, while young plants have space to mature. Creating a seedbed couldn’t be easier. Remove all weeds and large stones from an area, rake the soil to a fine tilth and add a thick layer of sterile compost. You sow seeds directly into the compost.
Sowing other Seeds in February
Seed packets generally list sowing times, but please remember that the same packet of seeds can end up in the hands of people with wildly varying winter and spring temperatures. The information on the back is general, and if you’re planning on sowing seeds in February, the safest thing to do is to follow sowing times for vegetables for your specific gardening zone.
You can also work out sowing times manually by finding your area’s last frost date and counting back the time needed for seeds to germinate and for the seedlings to mature enough before planting out. Doing this ensures that the worst of the weather will have passed by the time your seedlings are large enough to plant outside.
February Garden Jobs Checklist
- Organize seeds and place orders for new ones
- Seeds to sow in February: tomatoes, eggplant, chilies, kale, winter salad leaves, peas, sprouting broccoli, leeks, spinach, kohlrabi, globe artichokes
- Plant shallots and garlic (if not done already in autumn)
- Order and chit potatoes
- Plant bare-root fruit trees and bushes
- Prune fruit trees and bushes
- Mulch perennial vegetables
- What to harvest in February: Brussels sprouts, parsnips, cabbages, cauliflower, kale, and leeks
- Garden projects for February: build raised beds, install a greenhouse, create garden paths, weave raspberry cane edging, build a raspberry trellis
- February garden jobs: mulch perennials, remove weeds, create a seedbed, garden clean up, turn your compost heap
Garden Jobs for March
Some of the February garden jobs lead us neatly into March and will stand us in good stead for spring-like continuing to sow seed in heated propagators or direct sowing under cloches, cleaning up overgrown strawberry beds, sowing hardy veg like spinach, planting more shallot sets, and moving on to onions. Weeding of newly sprouted weeds begins in March too. It’s also a great time to think about creating a pond for wildlife and establishing an asparagus bed.
Hopefully, you are all fired up for the season ahead, and to keep you busy, here is even more seasonal inspiration for the vegetable garden:
- How to clean up an Overgrown Strawberry Bed
- Ways to Protect Spring Crops from the Cold
- Winter Projects for the Vegetable Garden