Late winter or early spring planting in February helps many gardeners get ahead. Planning and consideration is required in order to ensure a successful spring vegetable garden. Several vegetables can be sown during this time, provided warmer weather is on the horizon and hard frosts have passed. If freezing temperatures are common during February in your area, start vegetable seeds indoors and then transplant into the garden once spring has begun its arrival. Cool season leafy vegetables, such as cabbage and lettuce, can be successfully planted during February.
Cabbage is hardy cool season vegetable that is tolerant of frost. It grows best in fertile soil with lots of moisture. Since it is relatively easy to grow and maintain, it is a favorite vegetable for beginner gardeners. Cabbage can successfully be grown in containers for those with limited space as well. There are several different types of cabbage including red cabbage, savoy cabbage and green cabbage. The leaves are typically smooth with a round or pointed head. Space cabbage 12 inches apart when planting.
Several different types of lettuce can be planted in February. Among the five different varieties, green leaf is the most recommended type for early harvesting. Red leaf, romaine, cripshead and stem lettuce all offer additional colors and textures for the vegetable gardener to choose from. Sow 10 seeds per foot half an inch deep in rows at least 12 inches apart. Lettuce does well in partial shade but requires frequent watering for optimum harvest. Cut leaves for harvest once they reach usable size, usually within 50 or 60 days of planting.
Another cool season vegetable that can be planted in February are radishes. Radishes are fairly easy to grow, and if given the right conditions, will mature rapidly. Partial sun with moist and fertile soil is necessary for radishes to thrive, but they can do well in partial shade as well. Several varieties are available, including those designed for winter or summer harvesting. Sow seeds about half an inch deep, one to two inches apart. Once radishes near harvest, check their roots often for maturity. Roots about one inch wide, although young, are suitable for harvest.
Spinach, like cabbage and lettuce, is a leafy, cool season vegetable suitable for February planting. It is recommended to chill spinach seeds for one to two weeks in the refrigerator before sowing. Spinach grows best when given moist, well-drained and fertile soil. Available varieties include plain leaf, savoy and crinkled leaf. Plained leaf is among the most popular variety since the leaves are smoother. For each foot, sow 12 or 15 seeds half an inch deep. Harvest the leaves while they are still young, usually when the plant rosette has matured to 5 or 6 leaves.
Planting vegetable seeds in late winter requires consideration of climate. Check appropriate USDA hardiness zones beforehand to ensure a successful harvest. Consider starting seeds indoors on a patio or on a protected window box if temperatures are favorable for sowing seeds. If space is limited, try growing vegetables in containers sized appropriately for adequate root growth.