For a lot of areas, February is a bridge between seasons. On the tail finish of winter, it’s nonetheless not fairly spring. However that is prime time for making ready brassica transplants indoors or direct sowing cold-hardy brassica crops beneath safety.
Relying in your rising zone, you possibly can seed quite a lot of brassicas in February, together with kale, cauliflower, radishes, and arugula. These “cole crops” get pleasure from cool climate and constant moisture.
In northern areas with brief rising seasons, it’s particularly necessary to start out slow-maturing vegetation like Brussels sprouts and cabbage indoors so that they have time to totally develop exterior. In areas with sizzling summers, you will need to begin brassicas early to keep away from issues like bolting and bitter leaves. Southern gardeners are often extra profitable once they develop cold-weather brassicas like kale and cauliflower in very early spring.
Let’s dig into 14 brassicas you possibly can seed in February based mostly in your rising zone.
Dazzling Blue Kale
Snowball Y Cauliflower
Chinese language Broccoli
What Are Brassicas?
The Brassica genus is comprised of cool-season greens, together with broccoli, cabbage, kale, collards, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, turnips, bok choy, rutabagas, and kohlrabi. Additionally it is a basic nickname for cole-family crops within the Brassicaceae household, typically referred to as Cruciferous greens or the mustard household, which additionally contains radishes, arugula, and mustards.
Many brassica cultivars are variants of the identical species, Brassica oleracea. For instance, broccoli vegetation have been bred for an enlarged central flower, whereas Brussels sprouts develop lateral buds that resemble mini-cabbages alongside the stem.
Kale and collard greens are bred for looser leaves, whereas kohlrabi have been chosen for enlarged base stalks. You’ll discover that each one of those vegetation look related within the seedling stage and are prone to the identical pests and ailments within the backyard.
Which Brassicas Can You Begin in February?
The most effective brassicas to start out indoors in February are long-season, cool-weather vegetation like cabbage, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and collard greens. In case your soil is workable, you too can direct seed arugula, radishes, turnips, and child kale blends. Brassicas are members of the Brassicaceae plant household and are typically referred to as cruciferous greens as a result of their 4 yellow flower petals resemble a cross.
Brassicas to Begin Indoors in February
Regardless of their many complicated names, most brassica greens are grown in the same approach. You can begin seeds indoors in massive cell trays in late winter or early spring (6-8 weeks earlier than your final frost date). They are going to be able to transplant in 4-6 weeks.
These cool-climate crops don’t thoughts the nippiness of early spring climate. Gentle frosts are advantageous for younger vegetation, however solely mature vegetation can deal with excessive chilly. It’s useful to make use of row cowl or a chilly body to guard younger vegetation from chilly nights and early-season pests like flea beetles.
Why purchase bunches of bland inexperienced kale from the grocery retailer when you possibly can develop limitless kale in all kinds of distinctive colours, shapes, and flavors? This notorious cold-weather “superfood” crop is extraordinarily simple to develop from seed.
If you happen to begin the seeds in very early spring, a single kale plant can offer you nutritious leaves for the complete season. They’ll develop into hefty stalks that produce an countless provide of latest leaves. As you harvest the older decrease foliage, kale vegetation constantly produce younger greens from the highest.
By constantly harvesting, watering, and eradicating flowering stalks, you possibly can often stop kale from bolting in summer season’s warmth. When fall arrives, the identical vegetation will start to sweeten with frost. In lots of climates, they may even overwinter.
Begin this brassica in February by sowing seeds indoors 6-8 weeks earlier than your anticipated final spring frost. Sow them ¼” deep in 4-cell or 6-cell trays stuffed with a well-drained soil mix. Maintain at room temperature in brilliant daylight. Though these vegetation profit from chilly climate at maturity, the infant seedlings nonetheless want heat soils.
If you wish to direct seed, use a soil thermometer probe to test that soil temperatures are above 60°F (16°C). Nonetheless, I’ve grown 1000’s of bunches of kale with the extra dependable technique of sowing indoors round February or March. The vegetation shall be able to transplant once they have a number of units of true leaves and are about 6” tall, often inside 4-6 weeks of seeding. Keep in mind to skinny your cell trays to only one seedling per cell. Transplant with 18-24” of area between kale vegetation.
Attempt ‘Lacinato’ or ‘Dazzling Blue’ dinosaur kale for a crinkly scrumptious texture. If you wish to make kale chips, plant ‘Dwarf Blue Curled’ kale for additional dense leaves that take in oil and taste. For additional cold-hardy vegetation that may overwinter, attempt ‘Pink Russian.’ For vibrant colours, develop ‘Redbor.’
From traditional white heads to psychedelic swirly ‘Romanesco,’ cauliflower is an extremely versatile vegetable within the kitchen. Nonetheless, many gardeners wrestle to supply these massive, dense heads they see in shops. To treatment this, start cauliflower planting indoors in early spring 4-6 weeks earlier than your final frost. Make sure you choose seed varieties labeled for spring manufacturing, equivalent to ‘Snowball.’
The rounded black seeds must be sown ¼” deep and take 8-10 days to germinate. Present constant moisture and heat soils throughout the early levels. After germination, cool rising temperatures round 50-60°F (10-16°C) are preferrred.
Direct sowing isn’t really useful for cauliflower, because the vegetation are fairly prone to pests like aphids and slugs. As an alternative, wait till the seedlings attain 4-6” tall and have a number of units of true leaves. Transplant out with a minimal of 24” between vegetation and rows. It is extremely necessary that you just give cauliflower loads of area. In any other case, it gained’t produce a agency central head.
If you need pure white cauliflower, make sure that the leaves curl over the top so it isn’t uncovered to the solar. If the leaves are usually not naturally masking the cauliflower head, you should utilize a rubber band or twist tie to safe them within the middle whereas the heads develop.
Whether or not you get pleasure from contemporary coleslaw, home-fermented kimchi, or a hearty cabbage soup, this brassica shines finest in early spring. If you happen to begin these seeds indoors in February, you’ll have sturdy cabbage seedlings to transplant by early April. Full-size cabbage vegetation can take as much as 110 days to mature, so an early begin is additional necessary in areas with a brief rising season or areas with sizzling summers. You need to plant cabbage on the excellent time so it will possibly mature whereas the climate continues to be pretty cool.
This February, begin cabbage seeds 6-8 weeks earlier than your final frost date in 4-cell or 6-cell trays. A compost-rich soil mix and constant moisture are important for sturdy early progress. Make sure you skinny the seedlings, as overcrowding will inhibit head formation. When they’re able to transplant, give cabbage vegetation loads of area to open up and unfold out. Some varieties want as much as 2 sq. ft per plant.
If massive cabbages are intimidating, attempt a mini selection like ‘Caraflex’ cone-shaped cabbages. In sizzling climates, attempt a sluggish bolt selection like ‘One Kilo Gradual Bolt Napa’ cabbage. Untimely bolting (going to flower and seed) is a serious subject with this brassica and might rapidly spoil your summer season coleslaw desires.
The nutritious darkish inexperienced florets of broccoli might be surprisingly candy and flavorful when grown within the chill of early spring. Early season varieties are finest began indoors 6-8 weeks earlier than your final frost.
Sow seeds ¼” deep in cell trays with soil temperatures round 70°F (21°C) and ambient temperature round 60°F (16°C). You’ll discover that broccoli seedlings look similar to cauliflower, cabbage, and kale. Keep in mind to label your seed trays so that you don’t get them confused!
After 4-6 weeks of progress, broccoli shall be able to transplant. The seedlings ought to have sturdy root progress and a number of other units of true leaves. It’s necessary to harden off broccoli seedlings to allow them to slowly acclimate to colder outside nights. I favor to maintain them in a protected space like a patio for a number of days earlier than placing them within the floor. Then, I cowl the vegetation with row material so as to add somewhat additional insulation.
In case your broccoli has failed to supply massive central heads prior to now, make sure that you might be thinning the seedlings to 1 plant per cell. House transplants are not less than 12-18” aside and supply loads of compost and moisture however don’t enable the soil to turn out to be soggy.
Typically referred to as sprouting broccoli, rapini, or Chinese language broccoli, broccolini is the playful, tender cousin of broccoli heads. They mature extra rapidly than broccoli and are simpler for newcomers who’ve had bother rising full broccoli heads. These vegetation produce plentiful facet shoots all season lengthy. The stems and florets are very tender and style pleasant when grilled. In addition they make far much less of a large number to arrange within the kitchen.
I favor to develop broccolini over broccoli as a result of the vegetation are like a present that retains on giving. Though some broccoli vegetation will produce a number of facet shoots after you choose the central head, a broccolini plant will actually ship out sprouts all spring, summer season, and fall. If you happen to sustain with harvests and watering, the vegetation are much less susceptible to bolting.
Seed broccolini indoors with the very same technique as broccoli and cauliflower. When the mature vegetation start to ship up shoots, gently snap them on the base and return a few times per week to test for brand new sprouts.
This scrumptious historical Asian inexperienced might be grown as a full-size head or child bok choy. I favor the latter as a result of the vegetation mature as rapidly as 35 days and are simple to roast entire or slice into sautes. These mini brassicas carry out excellently in containers and are very beginner-friendly. The crunchy, white stems and tender leaves have a light taste excellent for stir-fries.
Bok choy thrives in cool climate and might be transplanted or immediately sown. The seeds germinate finest when sown ¼” deep in soils not less than 60°F (16°C). Use a soil thermometer probe to test your backyard beds, or begin the seeds in smaller cell trays and transplant out after 2-4 weeks earlier than your final frost date.
Bok choy is susceptible to bolting in sizzling climate, so it’s finest to get this crop out and in of the backyard within the spring. Luckily, the little yellow bok choy flowers are additionally edible and can be utilized like raab or rapini. Use row cowl to maintain flea beetles away from the beautiful leaves.
If you happen to’ve ever appeared carefully at a mature stalk of Brussels sprouts, it makes excellent sense that this vegetable is a really shut cousin of cabbage. You may develop the vegetation in nearly the very same method. With tight clusters of leaves like little cabbages alongside the stalk, Brussels sprouts have a novel progress like somewhat palm tree. They’re surprisingly versatile and revel in chilly temperatures. Nonetheless, they require early seeding and row cowl to keep away from pests and bolting points.
Begin Brussels sprouts indoors 4-6 weeks earlier than your final frost date. It is a crop you’ll need to develop as soon as within the spring and once more within the fall. With a February sowing of this brassica, you possibly can harvest the sprouts by late Might or early June, beginning with the most important backside heads and dealing your approach up as they develop.
Aphids are the largest downside I’ve encountered with Brussels sprouts. They get contained in the tight balls of leaves and rapidly flip to nasty infestations. To forestall them, plant plenty of aromatic companion vegetation like onions, white alyssum, chives, and thyme. If you happen to discover early indicators of aphids like sugary sap or a gathering of ants, spray the vegetation with a average blast of water to knock the aphids off, then apply a diluted answer of neem oil.
With its alien-like bulbous form, kohlrabi typically will get missed on the grocery retailer. Kohlrabi could seem like a turnip or root, however it’s truly an enlarged brassica stem. This distinctive vegetable tastes much better when harvested younger, because the older vegetation can turn out to be very exhausting and troublesome to chop.
Younger kohlrabi equivalent to ‘Purple Vienna’ might be extremely tender and juicy, nearly like biting into an apple! They’ve a barely nutty or peppery taste and an incredible quantity of vitamin C.
Kohlrabi might be transplanted or direct sown, so long as the seeds germinate in soils hotter than 45°F (7°C). To begin bigger vegetation indoors, plant kohlrabi seeds ¼” to ½” deep in cell trays 4-6 weeks earlier than your final frost date. For child kohlrabi, direct sow outdoor 3-4 weeks earlier than your final frost date with 4” of area between vegetation and 12” between rows.
Start harvesting when the bulbs are 2-3” in diameter. Reduce the stem simply on the line with pruners or a knife. Make sure you catch them younger! Something bigger than a tennis ball will lose its candy taste and probably develop a woody, pithy texture.
You don’t need to stay within the Deep South to develop collard greens. In reality, this southern traditional truly does finest in chilly climate. Mature collards are very frost-tolerant and thrive in early spring. The massive, deep-green leaves make incredible wraps or stewed greens with beans and cornbread. The cabbage-like vegetation are additionally warmth tolerant, which suggests you possibly can maintain them within the backyard for a steady harvest all through the season, very similar to your kale vegetation.
Begin collards indoors 4-6 weeks earlier than your final frost and plant out as soon as soil temperatures are above 55°F (13°C). These brassica seeds must be sown ½” deep in 4-cell or 6-cell trays. They’re able to transplant when 4-6” tall. Present 18-24” of area between vegetation and start harvesting the decrease outer leaves as soon as they’re bigger than your hand.
It’s useful to make use of a knife when harvesting younger vegetation so that you don’t by chance uproot them. As soon as the vegetation are extra mature, you possibly can snap the stems from the central stalk as wanted.
Brassicas to Direct Seed in February
In case your soil is defrosted and workable, there are additionally many brassica seeds you can begin by direct sowing outdoor in February. These develop particularly rapidly in low tunnels, chilly frames, or beneath row material. Amend with compost earlier than seeding, and use drip irrigation or soaker hoses to maintain younger vegetation hydrated.
Also called rocket, arugula is a peppery mustard member of the family that will get spicier within the warmth. If you happen to dislike the extraordinary taste of some arugula, attempt rising ‘Astro’ in early spring and harvesting the leaves whereas younger.
You may seed arugula outdoor so long as the soil temperature is not less than 40°F (4°C). Plant the seeds ¼” deep and gently mud over them with soil or vermiculite. Preserve constant moisture and wait 10-15 days for them to emerge. I favor to develop arugula in dense rows to reap like salad greens. This implies you possibly can scatter the seeds about 4-6” aside in rows 6” aside. For bigger leaves, widen the spacing.
As soon as the leaves are about 4” tall, use the “minimize and are available once more” harvest technique by grabbing a handful of leaves and chopping on the base an inch above the soil. The rising tip will regenerate a brand new spherical of arugula inside a number of weeks. Row cowl could be very useful for this early spring inexperienced as a result of flea beetles can eat lots of ugly little holes in arugula vegetation.
Child Kale Combine
If you happen to favor your kale tender and small for uncooked consuming, attempt direct sowing a child kale mix like ‘Premier Mix’ or ‘Pink Russian Child Greens.’ These vegetation carry out excellently in containers and germinate in soils round 40-50°F (4-10°C). In case you are uncertain about whether or not you possibly can sow, use a soil probe to test the soil temperature a number of inches deep in your beds. I’ve discovered that child kale combine is finest planted 2-4 weeks earlier than your final frost date, typically round late February for an early April harvest. Sow a brand new succession each 2 weeks for a steady provide.
Broadcast or scatter child kale seeds roughly ¾” aside and ¼” deep. Present constant moisture and wait 25-30 days to reap once they attain 2-4” tall. Use the “minimize and are available once more” technique to get a number of harvests from the identical patch.
Spring radishes are a particular deal with on salads or contemporary with a cheese platter. These rapid-maturing brassicas are excellent for impatient gardeners as a result of they take lower than a month to mature. The important thing to nice radishes is constant moisture and an early harvest. Don’t let your radishes get any bigger than a golf ball, or they will turn out to be pithy and exhausting.
Radishes take up little or no area and are nice for containers or small beds. They’ll germinate in soils as chilly as 40°F (4°C). Seed about ½” deep with 2” of area between vegetation. Repeat successive sowings each 1 to 2 weeks all through the spring. Radishes turn out to be spicier in heat climate however have a tendency to stay candy and tender so long as temperatures are cool.
Have you ever ever tasted a contemporary turnip that was candy, crisp, and juicy like an apple? Salad turnips are stunning white globes that mature rapidly in spring climate and preserve a pleasant texture for contemporary consuming or roasting. Most individuals flip their noses up at turnips because of their sturdy taste, however Tokyo or ‘Hakurei’ turnips are gentle and candy when grown in cool climate.
You may direct seed these brassicas as much as 4 weeks earlier than your final frost date. The spacing between seeds will decide the scale of the foundation. I favor to plant Hakureis 2-3” aside and harvest them at golf-ball dimension or barely bigger. Row cowl will defend younger leaves so you possibly can get pleasure from them in salads.
You probably have issues with wireworms damaging the beautiful white skins, attempt rising your soil drainage and avoiding overirrigation. Diatomaceous earth or wireworm traps like a buried piece of uncooked candy potato could assist. Simply don’t neglect to take away the candy potato as soon as the little worms infest it!
We are able to’t focus on the mustard household with out bearing on mustard greens! Most of us consider mustard because the seeds used within the well-known condiment, however mustard greens have the identical spicy taste with much more vitamin and flexibility.
Whereas most individuals don’t like mustard greens on their very own, I at all times develop a small patch of mustard greens to combine in with my salad lettuce. Mustard vegetation are remarkably resilient and simple to plant within the chilly soils of February. Their sturdy scent can be useful as a companion plant for deterring pests.
The Brassicaceae household is without doubt one of the most various households of greens for gardeners. These cool-season crops thrive in early spring and profit from a head begin in cell trays indoors.
If you wish to keep away from bolting and bitter or spicy leaves, plant brassicas earlier within the season to allow them to mature within the chilly climate. Nonetheless, make sure that younger vegetation can germinate in soils which can be not less than 40-50°F (4-10°C) to make sure correct germination and early institution.
Don’t neglect to label your brassica seedlings, as many sorts can look the identical whereas they’re younger.