Beware the Fever of February

07 Feb

Hi friends and fellow gardeners,

Temperatures in Atlanta, and most of the south are WAY above average for this time of year. Just yesterday I spied a pear tree –blooms open–welcoming spring. Dear ones, as much as we want it to be spring deep in our heart of hearts we know that spring isn’t here just yet.

So what’s a gardener to do?

Now is the time to heavily incorporate your soil. This year I have sworn off all man-made fertilizer. Opting for the good ole fashion chicken and goat variety. As an aside, if you live anywhere near Billy Albertson there are 50lb bags of chicken manure I have personally dug for sale. $10.00 a bag. The proceeds will go directly to a young man who lives in the area and who has been helping Billy (more on him at a later time).

For those lucky enough to own a tiller, this manure incorporation process is easy. Chunk the manure on top of the earth, crank the tiller and begin. For me, who has small semi-raised beds, I use the trench and toss method.

After digging a shovel-deep trench, I add shredded newspapers which I have moistened until they are a soggy mess. Laying the papery mess into the trench, I add the manure on top, then cover it with a light layer of dirt.  Here the soil, manure and newspaper will decompose and eventually create a wonderful rich soil. A few weeks later I use my hand-dandy auger (pictured here) to mix everything well.

Now for those who-like me- simply must plant something anything or we will simply burst, now is the time to plant those English and Snap peas. It is also time to plant onion and garlic.

A quick word about both bulbous plants. I have a “bed” dedicated to onion and garlic, a place set apart from the rest of the garden. I rarely use all of the garlic each year, opting to select the one with the thickest stalk as the “seed” for next year. Encouraging the plant to grow tall and bloom, each tiny bloom matures into individual seeds (same for onions). This is an inexpensive and beautiful way to multiply both plants.

For the asparagus lover, now is the time to grab those tubers and plant them. This plant also needs a dedicated area. Once planted they do not like to be moved. Please know that asparagus is a slow-starter. Meaning it will take several YEARS before they produce. However, once they get started, watch out….it’s asparagus for everyone. This vegie will (literally) grow in a pile of horse manure. The more organic matter applied to the asparagus “bed” the better.

Soon and very soon it’s potato planting time. But not just yet. Don’t tell Billy Albertson…he planted his last weekend. Law, what am I do to with him?

For those planting by the “signs” the Almanac has this to say about February vegetable plantings

Plant above ground crops: February 4,5,23,24,27,28

Root Crops: 11-15, 18-20

Seed Beds, 4,5, 13-15

Set eggs: 4, 5, 12-14

Renea Winchester is the author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes and Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. She is currently acquiring stories about Roswell’s beloved Ora Coleman. Send your stories about this marvelous man to oracolemanlegacy(at)


2 responses to “Beware the Fever of February

  1. Nebraska Dave

    February 7, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Renea, it is hard not to get out and start digging in the dirt. I’ve been working outside most of the winter here in Nebraska. A week ago yesterday was a record breaking temperature day with 70 degrees. The temperature smashed the old record by 9 degrees. What’s a gardener to do. I worked at breaking up a huge chunk of concrete where the fence line will be at my new property. Because of 11 years of neglect, the land became the local area dumping ground. It’s been a challenge to clean up the site and get it ready for spring planting. The warm winter has been great to allow me to get a head start on that project. I might actually get something planted there this year.

    Have a great day dreaming of spring planting.

  2. Carolyn Herndon

    February 18, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Renea, I love your helpful comments. I do want some of that chicken manure for sure. Thanks for passing on this info.


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