February is here. It is time to start the Spring garden, in lower Alabama. It may be cold outside, but winter here ends in mid February. By the time the rest of the country begins to thaw out, we will be at the end of our Spring. Therefore it is time to start seeds, plant trees, fertilize , and prepare the ground for planting.
Starting plants from seeds is easy. It is also cheaper than buying small plants. All you need is a tray, or egg cartoons, seed starter soil, seeds, and a sunny window. A few vegetables to start from seed now are tomatoes, early peas, beets, eggplants, carrots, and bell peppers. Be sure to mark the trays, so you know what is growing. I prefer to use trays with lids, this helps keep seeds warm. It also keeps the moisture in the dirt. Within a week your seeds will begin sprouting. Later you will need to thin them out and transplant them outside.
Since the seeds are starting inside, the ground outside needs to be prepared for planting. Start turning over the earth. Redigging or enlarging the plot as needed. Add any nutrients, manure, or mulch as needed. Doing the work now, will make planting next month a breeze. As you work, mentally plan what will be planted where. Decide on where the tomatoes will go. Make sure you have the stakes needed. Plan where your runner beans will go. Make sure you have stakes for those as well. Planning now will allow you time to make or buy the necessary supports, before you need them.
There are a few plants that can be planted outside now. Lettuce, greens, strawberries, onions, and broccoli can all be planted outside now. You can start with seeds or use plants. Be sure to keep a watch on the weather. Lower Alabama usually gets a late last frost in March. Tender plants may need to be covered if that happens.
February also means shrub maintenance and planting. This is the perfect time to plant dormant trees and shrubs. Continue to prune rose bushes and other shrubs. Fruit and Citrus trees need to be fertilized. Grape vines should also be cut back at this time. Don't be wimpy about it, either. At the end of February fertilize the azaleas and camellias. This will get them ready for a beautiful display at Easter.