Many people think of planting their gardens as a spring activity. However, February (even January) is a great time to start planting! Cool-season crops like spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and peas do not do well in high temperatures. They prefer temperatures from 35-75 degrees. In fact spinach can survive frost and temperatures as low as 15ºF. If you are not sure when to plant your vegetables, the following link is a great resource for figuring out your planting schedule: https://garden.org/apps/calendar. Just enter your zip code and it will let you know the best times to plant indoors, transplant, and/or sow outdoors for each type of crop.
This weekend I planted a row of spinach, lettuce, peas, broccoli, cabbage, and beats. Each packet of seeds will come with instructions on how far to space your seeds and rows. I put wood stakes at the end of each row so I would know exactly where each line of seeds are. On each row I stapled the packet used to the stake to remind me what I planted in that row.
You want the ground to remain moist. Allowing the soil to dry out as the seed is germinating will often kill the seed. On the flip side if the soil is too wet, the seeds may rot before they have a chance to sprout. This is why soil consistency is so important as it helps to maintain a balance between water retention and drainage. To read more about soil preparation read our previous article: Getting the Garden Ready for Planting.
Starting seeds in trays
Another way to begin winter planting is to start your seeds in trays. This allows you to take your trays outside during warmer days to take advantage of the sun and bring them in overnight or on cooler days. This will give you a head start on your garden as opposed to waiting to plant outdoors in the spring or save you money from buying plants at your local garden center.
Using a greenhouse
A small easily-transportable greenhouse can be a great way to save yourself from having to move your plants in and out of the house every night/morning (assuming it isn't too cold overnight). They come with a front flap that you can zip up to trap in heat overnight, and unzip in the morning to allow for good airflow. Helpful tip: The wire shelves can easily fall off while moving it around (I had a mishap last year with trays being dumped), so I used twist ties to attach them to the horizontal bars.
Items you may need to get started
Seed starting mix
10 Pack Planting Trays (Amazon, Home Depot)
5 Pack Planting Trays (Amazon)
Tray Cells and Planting Labels