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Sauk County Gardener


February 8, 2018

“Snowing is an attempt of nature to make the dirty world look clean again.” –Mehmet Lidan

February the month of love! If you love to start plants indoors, a few should be started this month!

Start tuberous begonias around the second week in February. In the third week of February start seeds of impatients, vinca, pansies, and geraniums. The forth week is a good time to start caladiums.

There are only a few vegetables to start in February and they are leeks and onions. Don’t be tempted to start tomatoes or any other vegetables because they get leggy and are time consuming. Tomatoes should not be started until the fourth week of March.

Remember when you start your seeds to use a “seed starting mix” for soil. I recently met a few people who say they will never start seeds indoors. The reason they were frustrated is because they used potting mix. Potting mix tends to contain a fungus that causes seeds to collapse at the base. This is called “damping off”. It is a good time of year to check seeds you may have leftover from last year. It is easy do.

Place a few seeds between moist paper towels for several days. If they start to sprout, they are viable. Do not use seeds with poor germination rates.

If you love parsnips, don’t save the seeds since they do not have a long shelf life. If you grow them, they are biennials so you can save a few plant in the garden over winter. In the late spring, they will form seeds that you can plant. Carrots, beets, Swiss chard, parsley, cabbage, celery, kale, leeks, onions, rutabaga, turnips, Brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, and cauliflower are also biennials.

If you are not sure what a biennial is, it is a plant that requires two growing seasons to form seeds then its life cycle is over. Only open pollinated seeds (not hybrids) will form seeds that are true to their parent plant. Why not make a point to collect seeds? It is fun and can save you money which is always a good thing.

This is also the time of year to spray your fruit trees with a dormant oil spray to control scale and over wintering pests. If you inspect your trees, be especially vigilant for egg clusters on trunk and branches.

Your questions are always welcome. Feel free to contact me at or at the Sauk County UW Extension Office at (608) 355-3250.


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