Seasonal Tips for Gardening Zones February-March 2003

Carol Mack shares important seasonal tips for gardening zones in New England/Maritime Canada, Mid-Atlantic, Southern Interior, the Gulf Coast, Central/Midwest, North Central and Rockies, Pacific Northwest and the Southwest.


| February/March 2003



Timely gardening tips for where you live.

Timely gardening tips for where you live.


ILLUSTRATION: DIANE A. RADER

Learn about current February and March  seasonal tips for gardening zones in the U.S.

New England/Maritime Canada Gardening

Winter for the Northern gardener is a time to read the catalogs and plan next spring's garden. Fruit trees can be pruned from January at least until March. If you are going to graft, cut scion wood now and wrap it in four or five layers of plastic to store in the refrigerator. (The plastic protects the wood from any ethylene gases emitted by fruit in your refrigerator) Start early seedlings of leeks, onions and celery; even peppers can be started in late February. Wait until March for most other veggies. Check the root cellar and pantry for spoilage in onions, apples and squash. If there is a small problem, make soup. If the problem is worse, consider freezing food before it all rots.

Mid-Atlantic Gardening

Improve your germination rates by starting seeds in an incubator. You can create a toasty, well-ventilated spot using an old refrigerator, a shielded lightbulb and a small fan powered through a thermostat set at 86 degrees. Use the incubator to presprout radish, spinach, pea, carrot and beet seeds on moist paper towels — then plant them outside under row cover as soon as they send out their first little roots. Start seed for transplants of bulb onions, eggplant, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, and some early tomatoes and peppers. Plant cool-weather greens in a cold frame for a jump on the season. Try some globe arti chokes in a cold frame, too — if exposed to temperatures between 35 degrees and 42 degrees while they are young, they often produce the same year. Plant potatoes around St. Patrick's Day for high, early yields.

Southern Interior Gardening

February and March are transition months for Southern gardeners. By now you've already planned out (or at least thought about) your garden for the upcoming season. In February, start warm-season crops (tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, etc.) indoors to have healthy transplants ready to plant after winter's last frost. Till soil four to six weeks before transplanting. This also is a great time to get your soil tested and add any nutrients it might need. Other activities for these months include pruning — especially roses (See "Pruning Made Easy," page 78 in this issue).

Gulf Coast Gardening

Garden fever starts early along the Gulf Coast. Our average last frost is around mid-February, but often we can plant tomato transplants in early February. A lot depends on how many you are planting. If you're only setting out a dozen plants, then take a chance — and keep the covers handy. Wait until March to transplant cold-sensitive eggplants and peppers. Plant a late crop of broccoli and lettuce transplants in early February and sow fast-growing, seeded crops like radishes, turnips and mustard. March begins the hectic planting of warm-season crops like beans, corn, cucumbers and melons, but whit until April to sow hot-weather crops like okra and southern peas. Apply a dormant-oil spray to fruit trees early this season before they begin to break dormancy. Don't forget the flower beds — plant dahlias and gladiolas now. In March, plant sunny beds with seed or transplants of marigolds, zinnias, gomphrena and rudbeckia, and brighten shady spots with impatiens and caladiums.

Central/Midwest Gardening

Spring is coming! Time to start many plants inside — be sure that you are beginning with disease-free conditions. Wash used trays and inserts, and fill with a quality seed-starting medium. Peppers will not germinate well at room temperature — keep them at a constant 80 degrees for best success. To avoid leggy plants, keep your light source as close as possible to the seedlings. Wait until the soil outside is workable and about 50 degrees to seed some early flowers and greens. If you are itching to plant outdoors, try using a cold frame or a mini-greenhouse tunnel to heat up a patch of soil.





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