Vegetables to plant in February

Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 20, 2016

February is a great time for vegetable gardening in Mississippi! One of several advantages to gardening this time of year is the cool weather. Having less stress on the body is always better. Another benefit is the variety of cool season vegetables that thrive under the growing conditions of late winter and spring.

Some of the more popular vegetables to be planted now include Irish potatoes, broccoli, bulb onions, English peas and lettuce. In addition, we can start seeds of summertime favorites like tomato, pepper, melon and squash to make our own transplants for warmer weather.

Irish Potatoes

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Two varieties of Irish potato that perform well in Mississippi include Red Lasoda and Kennebec. Irish potato terminology can be a little confusing, but “seed potato” simply refers to whole potatoes cut into pieces that weigh two or three ounces and include at least one bud or “eye” from which shoots will sprout. The potato plant will grow tubers for harvesting between the seed piece and the soil line so plant your potato pieces about 5 inches deep.

Irish potatoes can also be grown in containers. This is fun to do with children or if garden space is not abundant. Plant one or two seed pieces about 5 inches deep in a container that is at least 18 inches wide and 12 inches deep. Use potting soil or “dirt” from the garden. Keeping the “con-tater” indoors until the leaves emerge will make your taters grow faster. Then place it outdoors in full sun and use slow release or liquid fertilizer at label rates.

Other Cool Season Veggies

Local garden centers have supplies of onion plants on hand to set now that will offer delicious bulbs in late spring. Place onion plants 4 to 6 inches apart in loose, fertile soil.

Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and collard green transplants can be planted now. When planting, these may be set as deep as their first true leaves. Chinese Cabbage and leaf lettuce transplants are also good choices for February planting.

English and Sugar Snap peas are one of the few vegetables that are direct-seeded into garden soil this time of year. In fact, waiting too late to plant will result in warm weather destroying your crop. Several types are available, some with short vines and others with long vines that must be supported. Peas with shorter vines, 15 to 28 inches long may be planted in rows that are 8 to 10 inches apart. This method allows the plants to support each other and keep the pea pods off the ground. Some pea varieties to look for include ‘Green Archivesrow’, ‘Little Marvel’, ‘Wando’, ‘Sugar Ann’ and ‘Sugar Snap’. Happy Gardening!

Eddie M. L. Smith, Ph.D.
Extension Agent/County Coordinator
Mississippi State University
Pearl River County Extension Service