For the kitchen gardener, February is the month when we can finally start sowing some seeds! It is a month of excitement as we get our hands back into the compost and get excited about the start of the new growing season.
Here at Heritage Organic Seeds, we like to take February quite slow – the days are still very short and the temperatures are still very low but here are a few things that we will start to sow in February to get us started this season! We’ll still be quite patient though and most of our seed sowing will kick off in March. In our experience, planting too early also ends up in us having to resow again later as the seedlings can’t get enough light to develop into strong, healthy plants…even with grow lights. Additionally, windowsill space is so valuable for seed sowing and whilst the seedlings themselves don’t take up much room initially, once it is time to pot on, space is lost so quickly and it can become extremely challenging to give the plants proper care.
Aubergines – Aubergines do have a long growing season so it is always best to get them off to a start in February and March. Our Aubergine ‘Black Beauty’ is fast to mature (for an aubergine) but it is still a good idea to get them started soon so they can develop their root system in anticipation of a long, hot summer! April would be the latest we would recommend sowing Aubergine seeds. We sow ours inside, it is far too cold to sow these in a greenhouse so a windowsill is perfect and if you have a heated propagator or heat mat then this is a welcome addition to help germination. Our aubergines won’t be planted out into the greenhouse until the temperatures warm up considerably.
Chillies and Peppers – For Chillies, the general rule is that the hotter the chilli, the longer the growing season you need to get a harvest so varieties like your Habanero’s can be sown now but you really do still have lots of time if you want to wait a little longer. Last year we sowed all of our chillies towards the end of March and this worked really well for us up here in Cheshire but we are eager to start sowing something so our Habanero’s will be on the sowing list this month! As with the Aubergines, if you can sow on a heat mat or heated propagator this will help them germination.
Tomatoes – I am including them on your February list but only if you are really desperate and have the windowsill space! We won’t be sowing our tomatoes until March as I find that when it comes to potting the seedlings on in April that the outside temperatures are warm enough for the tomatoes to grow on in an unheated greenhouse which saves a lot of space in the house (and prevents arguments with my other half!)
Broad Beans – You can never have too many broad beans so we’ll be sowing ours this month. If you sowed a batch in the autumn then you can sow another batch now so that you can extend the harvest season. Broad beans are great as they can be sown in pots in an unheated greenhouse. You can also sow direct into the ground if the soil is not too wet or frozen but starting them in pots works really well for us as it is so wet up here.
Globe Artichokes – We’ll be thinking about sowing our globe artichokes towards the end of the month – late winter/early spring is the perfect time
Onions – Early February is a good time to start thinking about making a start on your onion seeds for bigger bulbs. We sow ours quite close together in a small propagator and once they germinate and put on a bit of growth, we can either pot them on into larger cells or plant out into the ground depending on the weather. The earlier you can sow your onion seeds the larger the bulbs will be.
Peas – We’ll be making a sowing of peas undercover this month to get a head start on this wonderful crop but we’ll be sowing more in March too! We are also looking forward to some delicious pea shoots!
Spinach and Oriental Salads – Spinach and oriental salads such as Tat Soi, Mizuna and Chinese Mustards are great for growing during colder months so we’ll start the sowing year off with a sowing of these wonderful leaves undercover. We’ll be getting them started inside and then once they have germinated and put on a bit of growth, we’ll be popping them in an unheated greenhouse to grow on. Our Pak Choi ‘Vivid Choi’ also stood really well over winter – even in the minus 10°c just before Christmas so we’ll be sowing some more of those too. It doesn’t look like a traditional pak choi – I would describe it as somewhere between a pak choi and a small chard with gorgeous pinky purple stems. Perfect for pimping up those salads!
There really are so many more things we could add to the list but for us it is about finding the balance between growth, space and the amount of care required and so our sowing list will be much bigger in March when, in our experience, we end up with much stronger, healthier plants as the light levels will start to increase significantly.
As always, you have to find what works for your individual circumstances so by all means please do sow other things now if you prefer or maybe have a little experiment and sow a few things now and then resow again in March to see which sowing provides the best results for you.