Anna's February Garden Journal

February Garden Journal

Often the hottest of the summer months, February is an exciting time filled with abundance and joy in the garden.  I have green beans, beets, lettuces, leafy greens, tomatoes, basil and zucchini in wonderful supply. Cucumbers are doing well in the glasshouse and my thornless blackberries are showing signs of ripening along the fence line.

February’s key areas to focus on in the garden are:

  • Planting more seedlings to extend your summer harvest.
  • Deheading and tidying up the garden to make room for new seeds, seedlings and plants for autumn and winter edibles.
  • Using and/or storing all the amazing edibles you are currently harvesting.

 harvesting leafy greens

In this issue

  • Watering
  • Going to seed
  • Digging the garlic
  • Looking ahead: planning for autumn/winter

Watering. Depending on where you live, February is often a very hot and dry month. This year is slightly different with the current El Nino weather patterns. It’s a little more changeable than normal and we have had some decent rainfall and a few cooler patches than the usual Central Otago summers. If you are in a dry area, and if water restrictions allow, try to provide the garden, or sections of it, with one decent long watering once a week. At this time of year, this has more impact than frequent short bursts of watering.

Deep watering lessens the stress on the plant and encourages good health and continued production.

Going to seed – bolting

One garden woe that can happen in this hot month is bolting! This is something that can be hard to avoid. Bolting is when the extreme conditions, often heat, shock young plants into thinking they are mature and they go to seed. Sadly, this results in inedible, often bitter-tasting leaves, poor quality produce or the plant doesn’t produce anything.  

Basil, spinach, lettuce, beets and celery are all common bolters. One way to try and avoid bolting is to plant in a cooler part of the garden. I plant spinach, lettuce and basil under the more established edibles to provide them with shelter from the heat and wind.

Coriander should be planted in the shade at this time of year and you are likely to get varying results. It generally grows way better in cooler conditions. Sadly, there are times and conditions where bolting is totally unavoidable, so don’t despair if this has happened to you this month!

Digging your garlic

Grab a spade or a trowel, leave enough space to avoid hitting the bulbs and dig them up. It’s super exciting to see what has been created under the soil in the six months since you planted the cloves.

Shake off the excess dirt, let then dry out for a day or two, and then tie or plait the foliage together and hang them up somewhere dry. It’s a wonderful feeling being able to use the garlic you have grown yourself. 

Looking Ahead: planning for autumn/winter

Now is a great time to start thinking about which edibles you want to plant to take you into winter. You can plant beets, spinach and brassicas now for autumn eating. In warmer areas, these can be grown from seed, but if you live in a cold mountain climate like me, seedlings of broccoli, leeks and cauliflowers will be better options.  Our growing season here in Central Otago will end abruptly (almost before we know it), so to make the most of the remaining growing window, plant seedlings.

Keep planting the salad greens, such as lettuces, rocket, basil, mizuna and even coriander, but, again, keep them in the shade, under taller plants.

Replace and plant herbs that may have got a little old, especially the ones you will use over winter in those hearty warming meals. I have planted more oregano, parsley and marjoram.

If you love leeks, pop them in now. They are so handy to cook in winter and super easy to grow. They just take time.

Edible Garden ideas on what to sow this month 

  • Start sowing, either in trays or garden pots, winter greens such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, pak choi, and cauliflower.
  • Silverbeet, beetroot, broad beans and spinach can also be sown.
  • If possible, plant the brassicas in a different spot from last year. Again, if you live in a cooler climate, plant seedlings to make the best use of the growing time left before the cold sets in.

harvest leafy greens in a basket Until next month …

 Anna xxx

Sneak peek: In March there are wonderful things to look forward to, including passionfruit, peaches, espalier apples and an autumn flourish of raspberries.