Monthly Garden Calendar for Florida

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Andres Mejides



February is a month of surprises. We usually have a brief warm spell in the beginning. Be prepared though, towards the end of the month, temperatures can dip again.

If you've started tender plants, be sure to bring them inside if wind chills get below the mid-50's. Or you can adapt some of the techniques that single-zoners use to extend their growing season to late fall and beyond. You can use transparent row covers, or single plant covers made from plastic soda or milk bottles. Be careful, though, if the next day is sunny, because temperatures in these containers will climb rapidly.

Dry Season Blues. Barring water restrictions, you may wish to give your lawn an inch of water weekly. I choose not to water my lawn any more. After years of organic management, it is full of organic matter, compost, and microbial life. All of these act as a sponge, reducing the need for water.

Composting Tip. Some of the cool weather crops, such as spinach, peas, lettuce, should be just about done producing. Start a new compost pile with the residue.

Moisture Check. Speaking of compost, be sure to check the heaps regularly for moisture. Water to keep it damp but not soggy, or throw in lots of juicy kitchen scraps.

Need Some Dry Matter? Many tropical trees do a major leaf drop now before putting on new spring growth. Pick up the leaves and put them on your compost pile.

Propagation Party. This is a good time to propagate from cuttings. The plants seem to root better when the day temperatures are in the 70s.

Hibernation No More. Our warm-season insect pests are starting to wake up: Be a vigilant scout. Unnoticed small damage can quickly turn into a major outbreak if it's not controlled early.

Prepare Beds for Tropical Crops. Try black-eyed peas. If you don't care for their taste when mature, harvest them small and use them as a filet bean. Amaranth (callaloo) and hot peppers can go in now too, but be sure to offer protection from low temperatures.

Got Grasshoppers? Be sure to order semaspore to spread around your property. This only works on the newly hatched ones and it doesn't keep for long. Order it now so you have it on hand when the babies hatch. You'll find semaspore at Planet Natural.