It is February and well into the time to begin starting seedlings and finalizing plans for the coming Spring and Summer growing seasons. We have been experimenting a little the last couple of years and will continue that a bit this year. We are following the recommendations in the 2020 Tennessee Home Vegetable Garden Calendar pretty closely this year and believe that will help to improve our results.
We started this season off on New Year’s Day by starting some seeds inside. We started some spinach, kale mustards, choys, and dandelions inside. These seedlings are growing well (aside from the spinach) and are currently outside on the patio hardening off. I will plant them in the garden this coming weekend (February 15 and 16). The spinach was a failure and I think this will be the last time I try starting it inside. It simply doesn’t germinate well for me and I believe that I will just direct-sow it in the garden from now on. On January 12, we started some cooler-season ornamentals as well as cardoon and artichokes.
We decided to try some perennial fruits this year and I ordered some blueberries and raspberries. We will have all of these plants in containers for the next couple of years. We ordered The Southern Collection of blueberries from Burpee Seed Company. The collection includes three southern highbush varieties- ‘Misty’, ‘Jewel’, and ‘Sunshine Blue’. I also ordered some rabbiteye blueberries from Gurney’s. The varieties are ‘Ochlockonee‘ and ‘Titan‘. I read conflicting information about growing blueberries in Tennessee (especially West Tennessee) so I decided to try multiple varieties and types to see what performed best.
We decided to refresh our strawberries this year also. I ordered the Strawberry Plant Collection from Johnny’s which includes 25 plants each of ‘Earliglow’, ‘Jewel’, and ‘Sparkle’. We got ‘Eversweet‘ from Burpee along with a ‘Violette de Bordeaux‘ fig and some French Tarragon. You do not grow real French Tarragon from seed- you grow it only from cuttings. We have grown Mexican Tarragon from seeds in the past and was successful, but I wanted to try the French variety this year.
We have had a few nice weekends over the last month (this past weekend, February 8 and 9, was particularly nice with sunshine and a high of almost 70 on Sunday) and managed to get most of the raised beds and containers ready for their first Spring crops. On February 2, I sowed spinach seed in 4 containers and covered them with Agribon fabric. Spinach is pretty tough, but the fabric will add some additional frost protection as well as help keep the seeds from getting washed out during some of the heavy rains we have had recently.
Also February 2, we got an early start on the summer garden by starting some tomatoes and peppers. I intend to set the tomatoes out in containers on April 1, about 2 weeks before we put the others in the garden beds. We started Brown Kangaroo Paw (a dwarf variety), Homestead 24, Heinz 1350 VF, Amish Paste (from two sources, MIGardener.com and Seed Saver’s Exchange). The peppers are: California Wonder, Sweet Banana, Carolina Wonder, Lipstick, Feherozon, Espelette, Ausilio, Yellow Jalapeno, Cubanelle, Habanero, Sunbright Sweet, Red Bullnose, Albino Bullnose, Biquintio, and Fish.
We also started some brassicas, however, while I was out of town, the seedlings got a bit leggy. I think that we will need to restart them, but I am giving them a few more days before I make that final decision. In addition to the brassicas, we started some Salanova lettuce (Green Sweet Crisp, Red Incised, Green Incised, Red Sweet Crisp), some Celtuce/Tree Lettuce and some rapini/broccoli rabe.
We continue our seed starting yesterday, February 9, by sowing some mache (corn salad), arugula, mustard greens (Florida Broad Leaf, Japanese Giant Red), kale (Red Ursa, Fringed), and a lettuce mix (Red Wing Lettuce Mix from Baker Creek) in one of the raised beds. We did segregate them somewhat, but mixed lettuce in with the arugula as we will cut this as a salad mix.
This coming weekend, we will start sugarsnap peas, snowpeas, and fava beans in the garden.
I believe that brings us up to date and summarizes everything we have done in the garden, so far, this calendar year. It is going to be an exciting growing season!