February is prime vegetable season for much of the warmer regions in the US. This Gardening and Property To-Do list for February will help you cover all the bases on your homestead in order to be ready for an abundant spring. For the To-Do List for USDA Zones 3-8, CLICK HERE.
In the Garden
To Transplant: Greens, arugula, beets, brassicas, cabbage, eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes.
To plant by seed: beans (all kinds), melons, corn, cucumbers, okra, onions, radish, squash, turnips, watermelon.
Bulbs: Ginger (I recommend spiral ginger, black ginger, and ganglion for a bit of exotic variety.) There is a great company in Central Florida (who ships nationwide) that has organic ginger, called A Natural Farm. Let them know we referred ya!
Violas and Pansies
Perennial Flowers and Around the House
Mulching! This is the optimum time to mulch and start applying compost to your garden and food forest areas. Many regions have tree service companies that will deliver wood chips for free if you call and ask them. Get ready for a dump truck load!
Empty and Sterilize Bird Houses (and feeders): You want to have this completed by mid-month, so you are ready for the spring nesting season. To disinfect, I use Shaklee Basic H and/or G. You can find it by clicking here
Start ordering your organic soil amendments for spring (compost, mushroom compost, manure, etc.)
Finalize your seed orders. Use companies that have organic and non-GMO seeds. I really like Baker Creek and ARK Seed Kits.
Start planning your online orders for barefoot perennial flowers. Consider a company like Hartmann’s or Oikos Tree Crops, where you can order in bulk at a much cheeper price.
Dig new swales and cover with straw or winter wheat seed to prepare for spring gardens.
Mulch, mulch, mulch! Lots of compost and manure applications by the third week of February.
Plant trees and shrubs while they are in (or close to dormancy). In Central Florida, this is the perfect time to plant mulberries, elderberries, dragon fruit, persimmon, peach, etc. Always plant (and water well) when they are dormant. Never plant trees when they are in the flowering phase. You want as much energy as possible to go to the root system. First year fruit trees should NOT be allowed to bear fruit (pick them off), but it’s ok to allow some berry bushes to fruit the first year.
Cover Crops: Durana clover can be planted during warm spells, and red winter wheat can also be planted for chicken forage.
Order organic orchard supplies for the coming season – be sure to look for holiday sales! Include seaweed extract, BioAg, neem oil, and fish emulsion. Get ready for spring foliar spraying.
Plant lespedeza, millet (last half of month if weather is ok), could possibly plant corn or sunflowers for silage.
Some clovers can be planted at this time, if there is a 5-7 day window of warmer evening and rain.
Dormant comfrey (bocking 14 variety only) can be planted now for minerals.
Turnips and radishes (especially daikon) can be planted in food plot areas as well. Just be sure to water until they are established.
GOATS: If you have goats, you can feed them used Christmas trees for an extra boost of vitamin C and antioxidants. Deworm using Basic H (see next note).
CATTLE: Deworming can be done using Joel Salatin’s method of using 1tsp of Basic H per gallon of water or 1/3 cup for a 50 gallon watering trough. I prefer the original Basic H instead of the Basic H2 though. It comes in a 5 gallon bucket, which is a great opportunity to go in with another farmer to purchase. It will last for YEARS! CLICK HERE TO ORDER
In the Shed
Check mouse traps frequently. Add cotton balls with peppermint oil to deter rodents. This time of year it is common for mice to start having babies, especially in the greenhouse.
TIP: Make a tool oiling bucket by filling it with sand and adding a pint or two of oil. You can use old motor oil from your car or even olive olive. Put shovels and spades in this to remove rust and keep oiled.
Look for estate sales that might have garden tools. The best tools are often the old wooden handled ones – skip the new ones. Most of the time, they are overpriced and not made with the quality standard they used to be.
In the Chicken Coop
Feed extra protein (meal worms, black oiled sunflower seeds, bugs, etc.) to help them during their own recovery season.
Do NOT let a hen go broody yet. Wait until the end of February. The weather fluctuates too much this time of year and that can make it a hard hatch for your girls.
Consider hatching eggs indoors in an incubator. Use a reputable company for ordering OR use your own fertilized eggs. Collect hatching eggs and store in the refrigerator for up to 36 hours before putting in the incubator.
Do NOT use supplemental lighting to increase egg production. Chickens need this off season to let their bodies rest. Let them have a natural rhythm of rest too.
Add a small amount of corn or millet to their diet to help with caloric intake in the winter months. This helps keep them warm naturally. NEVER use heat lamps in a coop or run.
Rotate straw and bedding in the coop to keep things clean and sanitary.
Give healthy protein / omega 3 treats: One cheep way to do this is to go to a local pet store and get feeder fish (cheep minnows). Put them into a shallow tray (with a bit of water) and watch the birds catch them! You can also purchase live crickets from pet stores and feel them fresh veggies for a day or two. Feed several per day to your birds for a healthy winter treat.
Deworm using Joel Salatin’s suggested organic method, using Shaklee’s Basic H. 5 drops for chickens in 1 gallon of water. Click here for order info. NOTE: He recommends using the original Basic H as opposed to Basic H2.
Winter Ideas for Kids
Go on a hike and look for deer runs and fallen deer antlers.
Look for wood ear mushrooms! They love the warmer winter days this time of year and are absolutely delicious. Not to mention, they have no “inedible” look a-likes, so are a safe variety for new mushroom hunters to harvest.
Have kids help you pick out seeds for next year in the seed catalogues. Consider giving them their own section of the garden to plant in the spring. Have them cut out pictures from your seed catalogue to make a collage to inspire them to plant with you in the spring.
See something we miss?? Add your ideas in the comments below!
Here is a list of things you should be doing in your yard in the month of October. Pay attention to the garden, house, shed, orchard, animals, and of course… the kiddos! This is your Kansas City October Gardening To-Do list.
In the garden
Harvest late season veggies that you planted in August, including: kale, lettuce, cucumbers, swiss chard, brassicas, etc.
Harvest and process the last of your late summer veggies (especially nightshades) like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, etc. Watch the weather carefully for early frosts, so you can cover plants with sheets or poly-tunnels to extend your growing season.
Harvest and dry herbs (rosemary, holy basil, oregano, etc.)
Plant garlic for next year.
Save seeds and store in a cool, dry place.
Store winter veggies like squash and pumpkins.
Plant cover crop mixes for the winter (clover, legumes, vetch, winter wheat, etc) OR cover your soil with 4-6″ of straw or woodchips. Never leave garden soil exposed to the elements, especially in the winter.
Apply winter probiotic spray (I use BioAg by SCD Probiotics) to all gardens, flower beds, and orchard soil. I use this both as a foliar and soil spray to help keep microflora healthy and the soil biome in pristine condition.
Test garden soil and make fall amendments. In Kansas City, we have a lot of clay and limestone, so we should ALL be adding compost to your soil every fall.
In the Greenhouse
Plant another round of: kale, cabbage, Swiss chard, radishes, Diakon, mixed greens, snow peas, etc.
Plant seeds that need winter stratification, like Paw Paw, so they get a jumpstart in the springtime.
Bring all outdoor pots inside the greenhouse to extend growing season.
Start cleaning tools. All metal should to cleaned with steel wool and then rubbed down with oil to protect them over the winter. Store in a dry place to prevent rusting.
In the Food Forest
Harvest apples, paw paw, persimmons, blackberries, and any remaining fruit.
Spray all fruit trees with probiotic spray, neam oil (for bugs and fungus control), and keep areas beneath the trees clear of waste.
Fresh compost and mulch around the base of the trees for winter. You can also use chopped leaves from trees around your yard. Do NOT use other fruit tree leaves if you can avoid it, because you don’t want to let any fungus or disease overwinter in the food forest.
Divide plants that are big enough to multiply and share (i.e. comfrey, berries, perennial flowers, etc.)
Harvest any remaining herbs (dry them, make tinctures, give away, or make an herbal broth for cooking). Some herbs can actually be frozen in olive oil (using ice cube trays) for use over the winter.
Plant cover crops for the winter in any lanes or open spaces.
Plant new trees in the orchard and food forest once leaves have dropped. Fall is perfect for planting!
In the Shed
Empty and store flower pots
Clean and oil all tools
Empty gas from machines that are finished for the season
Add mouse traps. TIP: You can also soak cotton balls or fabric in water with peppermint essential oil and put them in the corners to deter mice.
In the Chicken Coop for October
Feed extra protein (meal worms, black oiled sunflower seeds, bugs, etc.) to help them with molting season.
Add a small amount of corn to their diet to help with caloric intake before winter.
Purchase suet blocks (>5% protein) as you see them on sale for winter prep.
Clean and sterilize your coop and get ready for winterizing (have extra straw on hand for the winter months).
Make plans for water freezing over the winter (more next month). Add probiotics to your water to get birds healthy for winter. You can use a mixture of honey, apple cider vinegar, and garlic powder as one approach. I also rotate in BioLivestock, which is a blend of probiotics, beneficial microbes, and bio-fermented organic acids.
Add garden and flower bed cuttings to their run for them to “go through” and eat bugs and seeds before composting them.
Feed pumpkin and squash to chickens! It helps boost their immune systems and can be a preventative for worms. NOTE: Pumpkin seeds are NOT a proven treatment for worms, but a great as part of your preventative maintenance regime.
Around the House
Clean out gutters on eavestroughs
Check caulk around windows and doors
Check / change light bulbs around the yard
Chop leaves as they fall by mowing them up. Never rake and put them to the road, because you are literally sending nutrients away from your yard.
Prune dead branches and chop for burning
Power wash sidewalks, sides of house, etc
Drain and store hoses if the weather starts freezing
Change air filters on HVAC and check pilot lights on your heater before turning everything on. It’s also smart to vacuum out all ductwork / register vents and add a few drops of essential oils to them to keep things fresh.
Fall clean out of the garage and shed
Put up any winter window treatments (shrink film on thin windows)
Check batteries on carbon monoxide detectors (replace every three years) and check batteries on smoke detectors.
Chimney maintenance and fire place testing
Perennial Flower Beds in October
Cut back spent plants, but leave as much as you can for winter interest, especially if there are seed heads. I recommend pruning back fully in the spring, because many butterflies and beneficial insects have already laid eggs and are in a chrysalis form on your plants now, and they will not hatch until spring.
Plant spring bulbs. Rule of thumb… buy 2-3x as much as you THINK you want, because you’ll always want more.
Remove and compost faded annuals. Don’t throw them away – definitely compost them!
Divide large perennials and multiply in your garden OR share with friends.
Store tender bulbs like cannas, elephant ears, and dahlias.
Cover all soil with either compost, chopped leaves from your yard, or wood chips. NEVER leave your soil exposed to the winter elements.
Ideas for Kids
Make a fort with sticks and branches and then cover in leaves
Have at least a few times where you rake piles of leaves and let the kids jump and play
Make fall bird feeders and put them around the yard
Use peanut butter and spread on the trunks of trees, then press birdseed into it to attract woodpeckers
Fall nature walks are a must
Take the kids to green house this fall. Many local nurseries offer free fall activities for kids, pumpkin patches, etc.
Buy each kid a tree / shrub to plant in the yard or food forest. Help them pick it out and let them know it’s “their tree”.
Feel free to add comments below as to what is on your October Gardening To-Do List
Here’s a list of what you should do in your garden in March, if you live in the Midwest (specifically in USDA zones 3-8). Granted, weather isn’t exactly a science… well it is… it’s just not an exact science. Just keep a close watch on your weather and plan your planting accordingly. If you are not sure what your growing zone is (or how to use it), watch this tutorial video. If you are in a warmer climate, don’t worry, you can CLICK HERE for the Zone 9-11 March To-Do List.
Without further delay, ladies and gentlemen, here is your completely arbitrary March Gardening To-Do List!
In the Garden
Take soil tests and send to your local extension office. Take samples from each area of your yard and make sure to get the detailed report. The most important part for me is not the NPK… it’s the amount of organic matter! Generally speaking if you have a higher percentage of organic material in your soil, the rest of the soil health will follow suit.
Make minor amendments before the spring rains (add bone meal, blood meal, etc.).
Spread chicken poop and hay from the nesting boxes on the compost pile and get it working before it’s warm.
Start planting some frost friendly veggies (radish, Swiss chard, cabbage, broccoli, some lettuces, etc.) We recommend direct sowing a little every week, so that way your harvest is staggered. It also helps to insure a diversified crop and give extra insurance that if one round dies… another one will do just fine!
In the Greenhouse
Plant seed trays: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, kale, broccoli, cabbage, etc. Start perennial seeds for food forest planting: goji berries, gooseberries, trees from seed, etc.
Add black 5-gallon buckets of water (with lids) for radiant heat source, if you do not have a heated greenhouse.
TIP: Always plants more than what you think you’ll need. The worst case scenario is that you have some to share with neighbors, friends, or gorilla plant in a local park.
In the Food Forest
Break up any large sticks and twigs. They will decompose much faster if they are in direct contact with the soil.
Remove leaf cover from the soil and use as a mulch around the base of trees / bushes (cover the sticks). You can chop it up a bit with the mower if the leaves are still crispy.
Plant alley crops between rows and plantings. In our area I often use a blend of red clover, white dutch, yellow closer, and crimson clover. I plant this between the rows.
Plant living mulches around the base of the trees (turnips, bocking 14 comfrey root, berries, herb roots, etc.).
Feed native wild birds before nesting season starts in order to encourage them to live in your area. They are fantastic bug control and leave behind little bits of birdie poo.
Hang wild bird houses and bat houses before nesting season begins.
Set out orange halves and grape jelly to attract early migrating orioles.
Last chance to prune apple trees (before buds open)!
Add fresh mulch to trees and shrubs (up to 5″ thick). Remember to always keep the mulch away from the trunks of the trees.
Get a permaculture consultation to help you come up with a game plan for your overall property, garden, and food forest. PermacultureFX now offers both in-person and digital consultations (at a reduced rate).
In the Shed
Sharpen mower blades and all cutting tools.
Oil any metal that rusted over the winter. Remove tarnish with steel wool. Ax heads should be treated with bees wax.
Check for broken pots from winter cold.
Set a few extra mouse traps in the shed, greenhouse, and garage.
Start up the mower, weed whipper, and other tools for the first time. If you have difficulty starting them, you can always use a bit of Sea Foam to get things moving. Use two ounces per gallon of gas. It will work wonders!
In the Chicken Coop
Remove winter bedding, if you used the deep bedding method.
Deep clean…deep clean…deep clean! We use Shaklee’s Basic H2, because it’s organic and will also take care of mites, lice, etc.
Lower fat content (corn) and increase protein sources. If you are doing a mealworm farm, it’s a great time to give the girls an extra boost!
Feed extra omega-3’s. Get some feeder fish (minnows) from a local pet store and put them in a shallow pan. Watch your chooks go nuts for them!
Use honey, garlic, and ACV in their water once per week to give them an extra immune boost before the springtime. I also add a product for livestock by SCD Probiotics based out of KCMO.
Around the House
Clean out the gutters from any winter debris.
Remove winter window treatments and wash windows (inside and out).
Power-wash the sides of the house, cement, and garage doors. We use Basic H2 for this as well, because it organically takes care of mold and mildew easily.
Oil doors (interior and exterior).
Prune any trees around the yard before leaf buds begin to open.
Get hoses ready to bring outside.
In the Perennial Flower Beds
Finish cutting back any dead growth from last year.
Trim back winter ferns and greens (holly, lenten roses, etc.)
Remove leaves or debris from the top of bulb areas, leaving only compost or wood chips. The debris should be composted and added back to the beds later.
Start planning mulch and compost deliveries now. Look for sales or companies to bring it to you in bulk.
You can also plant cold season annual flowers at this time as well. Snap dragons, violas, pansies, and calendulas do great this time of year.
Spring sow any native wildflowers. One of my favorite Midwest companies for this is Prairie Moon Nursery (online), because they do seed mixes geared toward your specific sun exposure and soil type.
TIP: Never use mulch that has been colored or dyed (red or black). Let’s just use our heads on why that’s a bad idea.