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Virginia Cooperative Extension

Between the Rows - A Guide to Vegetable Gardening
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February in the Vegetable Garden

A Time for Planning
Welcome veggie gardeners! VCE supports local gardeners with a host of resources, including free classes, plant clinics and this newsletter. Want to know more? Subscribe here to receive future issues. Missed out on past issues? You can get them all here.
Garden Guide
February To Do List
  • Prune dormant fruit trees, as needed (using only cleaned and sharpened garden tools)
  • Fertilize established fruiting trees and shrubs; also apply horticultural oil while plants are dormant
  • Store newly purchased seeds in a cool, dry, and dark place
  • Plant asparagus and horseradish crowns
  • Replenish mulch on strawberry beds
  • Start indoors some cold-season crops (e.g., broccoli, cabbage, and early leafy greens) and herbs with the help of heating mats/lights or if placed in a warm, sunny spot in your home (refer to local garden guides for specific planting times)
  • Prepare to start plants from seeds indoors for some warmer season crops that require longer germination times (such as peppers)
  • Collect plastic milk or soda containers to use later as cloches to protect tender plants from cooler temperatures after transplanting
  • Take steps to start this year's herb garden (see latest the quarterly Herb Supplement)
Plant, Pest or Other Garden Questions?

Contact the VCE Horticulture Help Desk 

Knowledgeable Virginia Cooperative Extension volunteers are available to answer questions Monday-Friday from 9am to noon.
Now is the time to decide whether to start plants indoor from seed or whether to simply purchase transplants as temperatures rise. Starting plants indoor from seed can be very rewarding but also challenging. This Powerpoint presentation provides an overview of some of the basics of growing plants indoors from seed. This VCE publication also describes how to start plants from seeds indoors, among other types of plant propagation. See also these resources: English version, Spanish version. Other web-based resources cover, for example, seed starting mixes, when to schedule plantings, how to avoid "damping off," list of possible supplies. Other information and tips on how to grow plants indoors from seed is widely available online, including how to grow some plants from cuttings and division, as well as how to sprout, for example, ginger and turmeric indoors from available rooting crops.

Now is also the time to consider whether you need to test your soil before planting this year's garden. Testing your soil is a valuable way to ensure you are providing optimal growing conditions for your plants (thus reducing your out-of-pocket costs) while also helping to reduce nutrient runoff to nearby waterways from your garden. Here is information from Virginia Tech on soil sampling for the home gardener. You can test, for example, your soil's pH levels using some easy home test kits; however, a Virginia Tech lab analysis will give you additional information on the available macro and micro nutrients in your soil, as well as possible toxins in your soil. You can get a soil sample box and details on the test process from the VCE Extension office: If you send in a soil sample with your form and fee to the Virginia Tech lab for analysis you will get a full soil profile along with recommendations on the nutrients you need to amend your soil depending on what you want to grow. You may then apply lime, sulfur, fertilizer, or other supplementation, according to the test results. 

It is also important to make sure you have good water drainage in your garden. Drainage of about 1-3 inches of applied water per hour is considered normal to good drainage. Drainage below or above this range is considered "poor" drainage. Information on how to test your garden's drainage is available here and here.
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