While we are just starting to slide into winter, now is the time to act if you want to be ready to jump start your garden as soon as it is possible once winter eases. In our part of the Carolinas, we will start to “think spring” at the beginning of February. That is when we can start planting some early spring vegetables in the garden. Some of these veggies will be sown as seed, others will be transplants.

Since February 1st is just 6 weeks away, now is the time to start those transplants from seed. They will germinate in a week, then will spend 5 weeks gaining some size… enough to be able to handle February and March frosts and freezes.

Collard greens, kale and cabbage are all good seeds to start indoors right now. Starting your own seeds indoors saves a ton of money compared to buying them already started at the garden store. Plus, you get to choose the variety that you grow… and it is way more fun!

All it takes to start your own seeds is seed starting soil, trays, and a way to keep the soil from drying out, like a seed starting greenhouse. The seedlings also need as much sunlight as possible, and if adequate sunlight is not possible, a grow lamp. If the seedlings do not get enough light, they get leggy and weak.

To get some seeds started, fill the tray with soil, and add one seed to each pod. Follow the seed packet instructions to know how deep to plant the seed. Water the soil by spraying with a mister. This prevents disturbing the seed or washing it away. Also put some water in the bottom of the seed greenhouse and put the clear cover on. Place the tray in direct sunlight or under a grow lamp.

If using a grow lamp, seeds can handle up to 16 hours of light each day. Seeds will germinate best with soil temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees.

Keep the soil moist by spraying with a mist of water each day and keeping a small pool of water in the bottom of the tray.

These plants will be planted in the garden around February 1st and will grow nicely until it is time to plant warm season plants in April. These cool season plants do not like hot weather, and will bolt, flower, and go to seed once warm weather sets in, so it is important to plant them as early as possible to take advantage of cooler weather, then harvest them before it gets too hot. Insects also find these plants delicious, so it is helpful to grow them before plant eating caterpillars arrive in April.

Some other seeds that can be started now, to be planted in February are arugula, mustard, Swiss chard,