Regional Gardening Guide - Zone 7-8

February 1 to February 28-- Discover what you should be doing right now. Our experts share gardening advice, techniques, news, and ideas to make your garden the best ever.

Here’s what’s happening in your gardening region:

It’s time for a fresh start in the garden! While you might not spend hours and hours outside this month, there’s plenty to do indoors to get ready for the spring season.

 

map for zone 7-8

Your Regional reporter

Katie Peters regional reporter photo

Katie Elzer-Peters is the author of Beginner's Illustrated Guide to Gardening, Carolinas Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, Southern Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, and many other vegetable gardening books. She lives in coastal North Carolina, where she enjoys four-season gardening.

To see what Katie's doing in her garden. Click Here!

1. Learn the basics of successful gardening.

On days when the ice, snow, or chilly drizzle is falling stay inside and use the time to brush up on gardening skills and knowledge. Successful gardening starts with know-how. If you’ve never tested the soil in your garden, make 2017 the year you start! The pH of the soil can make a huge difference in whether or not you have healthy plants. Composting is always a good idea and it’s never too late to start. Finally, before you plant summer crops think about how you’re going to give them good support so they yield a great harvest.

  • Understanding Soil Ph
    When the pH is too high or too low, your plants may get too much of some nutrients and not enough of others.
    Read more
  • Composting
    Composting is the best way to improve soil and create a perfect home, teeming with life, for the roots of your plants. Learn how to compost...
    Read more
  • Staking and Supports
    Wrassling with a toppling six-foot-tall plant can be a struggle that is hard on gardeners as well as on blooms and fruit. So corral and support those plants with cages, stakes, trellises and arbors before they become overpowering.
    Read more

2. Plant cool-season greens.

You can still enjoy a bumper crop of lettuce, spinach, kale, cabbage, swiss chard, and other cool-season greens. While it’s cool the easiest way to grow these is from transplants. You can start seeds inside and have transplants ready to plant out in three to four weeks. Harden off the transplants by setting the trays outside in a protected area for a few days before popping them into the ground.

  • Swiss Chard, Red Magic Hybrid, , large
  • Kale, Prizm Hybrid, , large
  • Spinach, Crocodile Hybrid, , large

3. Learn how to grow spring vegetables.

In addition to greens, there are lots of other wonderful spring vegetables that will grow to maturity between now and May. Leeks are wonderfully cold hardy. Start seeds indoors, harden off, and plant outside. You can harvest in early summer. You can plant peas in mid to late February. Sow a 6 linear feet of peas every two to three weeks for a couple of months and you’ll have a longer harvest. It’s best to stagger sowings of radishes. Nobody needs 100 radishes at one time unless you’re making pickles.

4. Plant cool-season flowers.

If you sow seeds of winter flowers such as violas, poppies, and alyssum outside now, you’ll enjoy an entire spring of beautiful flowers. It’s possible to “winter sow” these plants. Simply broadcast the seeds now and when the conditions are right they’ll sprout and grow, adding great early season color to the garden.

  • Alyssum, Royal Carpet, , large
  • Poppy California, Sunset Mixed Colors, , large
  • Viola, Johnny-Jump Up, , large

5. What you need for frost protection.

Nights are still cool. If you have cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and other brassica family plants that are sensitive to low temperatures you’ll need to cover them when there are 20 degree (or lower) temperatures in the forecast. If you’re excited to get a jump start on summer crops, think about adding a cold frame to the garden. It’ll give you an extra month for plants like dwarf tomatoes, basil, and other warm weather lovers.

  • Burpee Exclusive Adjustable Frost Protection Kit, , large
  • Cold Frame, , large
  • TunLcover, , large