Since it is winter, we are going to focus on plants that can be started indoors, so you can get a head start on the growing season. This is beneficial because many of our favorite flowers are vegetables that are native to warm-climate geographies where they have more sun, warmer temperatures, and a longer growing season. Growing plants this way is not only cheaper, but it also allows you to buy more varieties of plants that might not be available where you typically buy your starter plants.
Not all plants can be started indoors, some are best to just plant in your garden when the temperatures are right. If you are just starting out trying to sow seeds indoors, start small so you are not overwhelmed. You will also need soil and either a seed starting kit or biodegradable containers. Here is a link to The Old Farmer’s Almanac’ Planting Calendar By State. This will help find the best time to get some of your favorite plants started. We also have included a vegetable you can grow from its scraps.
Here are 6 plants that you can start planting in February:
Impatiens – This annual plant is a popular plant because it produces flowers the whole growing season without the need to be deadheaded. There was a problem with a fungal disease several years ago, so look for a resistant variety. Impatiens are great for shady areas of your garden. They can be planted in flower beds, containers, window boxes, and hanging baskets. These flowers are easy to grow from seeds (the seeds are very small), but they do grow slowly. Plant them starting in mid-February so you can transplant them to your garden in the spring. When growing them indoors they require warm soil and light to germinate. Normally, you will see a white sprout in about 5-7 days. After the white sprout comes up, a green bud (the leaf part of the seedling) slowly follows. If you do not keep a consistent soil temperature during the germination period the seed could rot. Here is more detailed information on growing Impatiens from seed.
Viola – Violas are small plants that produce dainty fragrant blooms in jewel-like colors of blue, scarlet, violet, white, yellow, and bi-colored. Violas and Pansies are related. Violas tend to be more winter-hardy than the larger-flowered pansy. For spring blooms, you need to start your Viola in pots and containers indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost. Starting seeds indoors is moderately easy. Start with a high-quality seed starting mix. Fill the plant trays with a growing medium. After that, put the seeds into the tray making sure the seed comes in contact with the soil. Put the tray in a black plastic bag, so it does not get light then place it in a cool location. Check for signs of growth every couple of days. Make sure the soil remains moist throughout the germination process. Once seeds have germinated, move the tray to a location with enough light until you are ready to transplant them into your garden.
Basil – Basil is a warm-weather herb that has a wonderful aroma and is used in many dishes. It is one of the easiest herbs to grow from seed. The plant grows fairly quickly. There are different grow kits that you can use to make the process of growing Basil indoors even easier. If you grow the plant properly you can be ready to harvest the leaves in 4 weeks. When growing Basil indoors you will need the right amount of sun and water so your plant can thrive. Use well-drained nutrient-rich soil to plant your seeds in. Put your container in a sunny location. Basil needs sunlight for about 6 hours each day to grow properly.
Bell Pepper – Bell peppers are a versatile vegetable. There are so many different things you can use them for such as stir fry to soup. They come in many different colors including green, orange, and red. These peppers are packed with Vitamin C; more than in most fruits. To begin, bell peppers like warm soil. The optimal temperature is 70 degrees F. When growing from seeds it is important to keep the soil warm or the seeds will not germinate. Keep them in a seed tray until the seedlings are a few inches tall and then you can transplant them outdoors or put them in a pot and grow them indoors. Peppers transplant well so you have nothing to worry about. An additional technique to use when planting is to do so in pairs. Having two plants close together is said to increase your pepper yield. It also protects them from too much sun and intense light.
Cabbage - Cabbage is a leafy green, red, or white biennial plant grown as an annual vegetable for its dense leaved heads. This vegetable is packed with vitamins and has many uses in cooking. Start your seeds in their own pots or a seed tray. Sow your seeds ¼ to ½ inches deep in a seed-starting mix. Keep the mix moist but not wet. Keep the soil warm at an optimal temperature of 77 degrees F. Your seeds should start to germinate in 5 to 8 days. When your seedlings are 4 to 6 inches tall they can be transplanted. Make sure your daytime temperature is reaching 50 degrees F. Plant your seedlings deeper than they were in their pots or seed tray. Cabbage grows best in full sun but will tolerate partial shade.
Celery – Celery has long fibrous stalks that taper into leaves. You can grow it from seed but an easier way to grow it is to use the base of a stalk. To do this cut two to three inches from the base of the celery stalk with a sharp knife. Fill a small container with an inch of soil and put the base of the celery inside. Place the container near a window that gets sunlight. Within 48 hours, you will start seeing small roots develop. Change the water every couple of days. Continue this process until you see longer roots. You can then transfer the celery base into the center of a pot with an inch or two of potting soil. Add some additional soil around the base and water until the soil is damp. Pot your put in a location where the celery can get at least 6 hours of sun during the day. Water the container regularly to avoid a tough stalk.
Let us know if you are going to sow any seeds indoors.