Even though you did not see it on the calendar, last weekend was the end of winter for the Zone 9 gardener. Ok, I realize that by making that declaration in print I am probably dooming us to a late season freeze. However, according to historical statistics, Feb. 15 marked the last day that we could realistically expect a freeze in Zone 9B. Because of this I am now suffering from a severe case of garden fever. Last weekend, to celebrate the end of winter, I planted 2 -33′ rows of potatoes (Yukon Gold, Kennebec, Red LaSoda). I also cleaned out the potager in preparation of the flowers and herbs that will be planted there in the next few weeks.
Because of our mild climate, we can now plant everything but the most cold sensitive plants. If you want to have fresh cole crops on your spring table (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts) you need to get them in the garden soon. The blue leafed cole crops in the brassica family can be safely planted from transplant anytime between now and March 15.
It is also a great time to put out seeds of lettuce, spinach, collards, chard, mustard greens, beets, turnips, radishes and carrots. All of these are fast growers and they are very easy to grow from seed. Since they prefer temps below 80, this is probably the last chance you have to grow them until next fall.
In the next couple of weeks I will be planting my green beans. I grow “Contender” but there are several other varieties out there that do very well in our area (see Patty’s recommendations in the sidebar). Green beans are a little cold sensitive so I always hedge my bets and plant them a little later (around March 1).
Late February into early March is also a great time to put out the two perrinial vegetables that do well in our area - asparagus and artichoke. Both of these are grown from roots called “crowns”. They take a little more work and a little more care than our single season vegetables, but they are well worth the effort.
The past two sunny weekends have induced in me a very bad case of gardening fever. As I write this, every muscle in body aches from the gardening I forced it to endure last weekend. And that’s fine! My achy body means that winter is finally over and the 2013 gardening season has begun. Gentlemen (and ladies), start your tillers!