Gardening in February? Really?

Here in Oregon, it’s chilly and rainy (no surprise), with more of the same on the way. Other parts of the country are digging out of snow or worried about flooding. In the face of all that, does it seem strange to think about planting seeds or baby plants? Not for us gardeners. It’s one of the things that keep us sane!

The weather so far this year has been unusual and unpredictable in much of the country, so your usual timetable for planting may need a little adjustment. Take your cue from your favorite garden center. They know your local weather patterns, and put out inventory accordingly.

Pansies. As soon as you see pansies or violas for sale, snag a few. Their cheerful blossoms will go a long way toward relieving gloomy skies. And they are edible (if you grow them without pesticides or herbicides or any other –cides). Add a few friendly flowers to your next salad or open-face sandwich.

Incidentally, I’m always amused when stores advertise “winter pansies.” Guess what, folks. There is no such thing as a summer pansy. Pansies (and their cousins — violas, violets, and Johnny jump-ups) are cool-weather plants that fizzle out in hot weather but bloom their hearts out in spring and fall. Planted in the fall, they often winter over and rebloom next spring.

Peas. English peas, snow peas, sugar snaps–get your seeds now. The traditional planting date for all kinds of seeds is President’s Day, in late February (the 20th, this year). And you really need to start peas from seed, so get your supplies in hand.

The same is true for sweetpeas, by the way. And although they are not edible, they make up for it with that incomparable fragrance. So plant some of them too. Renee Shepherd, at, has some marvelous varieties.

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