Sometimes, getting through the months of December and January can be tough for a gardener. But, February arrives and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Seed catalogs begin to arrive with their irresistible pictures, seed packets are beginning to show up in stores and the days are beginning to get a little longer. Seeds for some ornamentals and herbs can be started now and in a few weeks we can start our cole crops, too. While cole sounds like cold, cole actually refers to a group of plants that fall into the mustard family. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnips, kale, collards, and chard are a part of this group. These crops do prefer cool seasons and are somewhat cold tolerant. Cabbage, for example, may withstand temperatures down to 20 degrees as one of the most cold tolerant, while cauliflower and chard are more sensitive to the cold. I can relate to being sensitive to the cold. I’m ready to see some green.

02022017_February-review cold cabbage

Want to try for the first tomato? Start a variety like Early Girl under lights. Set them out in April protected by walls of water. Warm the soil first by covering for a couple of weeks with black plastic. Remove the plastic before planting and use a nice compost mulch afterwards.

Organize your seed packets by date. If they’re a couple of years old, do a germination test to check their viability. Roll up 10 seeds in a damp paper towel, place in a plastic bag to keep moist and check them in 10 days or so to see what’s happening. The seed packet will usually tell you how long germination takes, so pay attention to that number. If only a few seeds have germinated it’s probably time to purchase new seed.

Sharpen the blades and oil the handles of your garden tools before you actually need to use them. You’ll be glad you did because a sharp edge on a shovel or hoe makes garden work much easier. It’s a chore I have a hard time getting accomplished once the season is in full swing. And I’m sorry about being a procrastinator whenever I have to use a dull tool.
Houseplants are about to begin their active growing season. Rinse off your houseplants by sitting them in the shower. Getting the winter dust washed off and leaching fertilizer salts though the pot will make them very happy, indeed.

We’ll begin this month on the D&B Garden Show talking to Melinda Jean Stafford about honey bees. She is a beekeeper and advises the Boise State Bee Team! If you’re thinking of becoming a beekeeper and putting a hive in your back yard, now is the time to get your plan in place and get your supplies ordered. Melinda will help you figure out what you’ll need and what is an unnecessary expense. If you already have a hive or two, she’ll share things to consider this time of year while trying to keep the hive healthy though this crazy winter of ours.

If you have any suggestions or requests for more in-depth information about a topic, let me know and I’ll be happy to find an expert in that field to be a guest on the show.

If gardening is on your mind, join the conversation on the D&B Garden Show. You can find the show on KIDO, 580am from 10:00-11:00 Saturday mornings. I look forward to sharing thoughts on gardening!