Sow, Sow, Sow for Spring Abundance

February in the Garden: Gardener’s Notebook by Joshua Burman Thayer

Photo by Carole Topalian

It’s still quite cold outside, too cold, in fact, for seeding summer veggies. But certain crops sprout and grow just fine in the cool, wet Bay Area winter, and you can direct sow them into your raised beds and buckets throughout the month of February.

Right now, I am planting these four crops in my raised beds, and to give them a boost, I like to sprinkle worm castings at a rate of one-half bag per 8- x 4-foot raised bed to activate the soil at the time of seeding.

I love to grow sugar snap peas to provide my son with sweet garden snacks. I train the plants on tomato cages, as they love to reach up, up, up. Sow the seeds 1-inch deep and 6 to 12 inches apart.

Radish is so easy to sprout, and the plants grow quickly: It takes only 30 days from seed to plate! Scratch a line ½-inch deep and ½-inch wide, sprinkle the radish seeds 3-4 inches apart, cover with soil, water, and expect a large harvest in only three to six weeks! If don’t love that much raw spiciness, boil your radishes as a healthy alternative to potatoes.

Collards can be sprouted now as well, and you can scissor cut the small greens every few weeks. To plant, scratch a line ½ inch deep and ½-inch wide and sprinkle seeds ½-inch apart.

Try creating an edible lawn of arugula. It’s easy to grow in the gaps of the other crops mentioned above. Simply broadcast arugula seeds in the empty portions of the raised bed after seeding the others. You may cut and re-cut your arugula once per  month.


Photo by Carole Topalian


Bare Root Time!

Illustration from author’s upcoming second book, California Food Forests.

Procure these trees and berry bushes now as bare root plant and pot them up into 5-gallon buckets, where they can wait until summer.

Asparagus is a lovely perennial that gets 3 to 5 feet wide by 6 feet tall, and it can withstand hot sun. Try Sweet Purple or Mary Washington.

Highbush blueberry gets 4-5 feet tall and does best in dappled light. Try Sunshine or Jubilee.

Apple trees do well even in mixed-light or in an alley! Try Fuji Red or Blue Peramain.

Pomegranate does well in hot, dry, full sun. Try Grenada. 

Buy bare-root plants at your local nursery or check these online sources:

Happy Gardening!

Joshua Burman Thayer’s Gardener’s Notebook is filled with gardening advice for every season. Visit the whole collection of articles here.

Get expert help with your garden from Joshua Burman Thayer at 510.332.2809. Learn more about food forests and permaculture landscape design at and from Joshua Burman Thayer’s book, Food Forests for First Timers. Purchase a copy of this book.