Onslow County Center
In the Garden Now
January/February 2021
Growing Broccoli and Cabbage
By Jim Kwasnik, Master Gardener Volunteer

In order to grow large heads of broccoli and cabbage in Onslow county, you need to plant EARLY. I purchase plants as soon as transplants are available and generally my plants are in the ground by the first week of February. I plant them under a homemade cloche to protect them from the cold. I use a 6-ft welded wire fence cut to ~ 8 ft length, bend fence to make a Quonset-hut frame to support clear 3 or 6 mil clear plastic with metal fence posts used as weights to hold plastic down from the wind. During cold days and nights the ends are closed; if daytime sunny temps are over 60 degrees, I open the ends during the day. I might also remove the plastic if warm weather rain is predicted.
Once past chances of freezing of heavy frost, I remove the cloche. Note the broccoli growing in the middle of the row.
The broccoli develops a head in about 60 days after planting but the cabbage needs at least 90 days to develop a usable head. 
I cut the main broccoli head, leave the broccoli plant intact and allow side shoots to grow.
Side shoots will develop after main head is picked and side shoots are picked as needed.
Once the side shoots are picked, the broccoli plants are removed allowing the cabbage plants to fill in and head out where the broccoli once stood.
Remember that you must monitor your plants for cabbage worms. If found, treat with Bt every 7-10 days. The earlier you plant, the less likely you will have bug problems.

Happy gardening,
Jim Kwasnik
Onslow County Master Gardener Volunteer
Tips and Tasks

January is the perfect time to begin a garden journal. Include tasks and information like copies of your garden plan, soil test results, varieties grown, fertilizers used, weather conditions, successes and challenges.

Keep an eye out for fungus gnats, mealybugs, aphids and white flies on your indoor plants. The best way to control fungus gnats in houseplants is to modify the habitat to remove their breeding grounds. Fungus gnats require moist, organic soil so be careful to avoid overwatering your plants. The surface of the soil should dry out to the touch and the container should feel light for its size before watering. Do not allow any water to stand in saucers or decorative outer pots. Avoid using incompletely composted organic matter in potting soil and remove dropped leaves, flowers and other plant debris as they fall on the surface of the potting mix.

• Plan beds for spring planting and order seeds. Cut back ornamental grasses and liriope in late January or early February before new growth begins. Stack cut grass loosely in the compost pile or along the edge of the wood line to allow pollinators and other beneficial insects that might be in them to emerge later in the season. Rake up and compost fallen blossoms from camellia bushes to discourage petal blight.

• Set out asparagus crowns in January or February but wait a year before harvesting spears from this perennial crop. Start seed for spring crops of broccoli, cabbage, collards, kale and swiss chard to have transplants ready for early March. These crops grow best in direct light and cool temperatures.

• Prune blueberry bushes in January or February. Remove dead, diseased, weak or crossing stems. On mature bushes, removed one or two of the oldest, thickest canes each year. Apply horticultural oil spray to fruit trees to control mites, scale and other overwintering insects.

• Don’t apply fertilizers to dormant lawns. Apply lime only if indicated by soil test results. Centipede naturally likes a lower soil pH than other grasses.

Trees and shrubs
• Broken, dead or diseased limbs can be removed from trees and shrubs anytime during the year.

Planting Plans!
• February is an epic month for planting vegetables.

Here’s a list of dates so you can start sorting seeds and planning transplants:

Lettuce 2/1 - 4/10
Arugula 2/15 - 3/31
Asparagus 2/15 - 3/31
Broccoli 2/15 - 4/15
Cabbage 2/15 - 4/15
Carrots 2/15 - 3/31
Cauliflower 2/15 - 4/15
Collards 2/15 - 6/30
Kale 2/15 - 6/31
Kohlrabi 2/15 - 6/30
Leeks 2/15 - 6/30
Mustard 2/15 - 6/30
Parsley 2/15 - 4/15
Parsnips 2/15 - 4/15
Peas (English/Garden) 2/15 - 4/15
Potatoes 2/15 - 3/31
Radishes 2/15 - 6/30
Rutabagas 2/15 - 4/15
Spinach 2/15 - 6/30
Turnips 2/15 - 6/30

  • Peas and potatoes are among the first vegetables to plant as winter starts to fade in to spring. Garden peas, snow peas and sugar snaps are easy, productive crops. Peas should be grown from seed in the garden. Soaking your pea seeds before planting will speed germination. Place them in a jar of water and soak them for 6-8 hours just before planting, before sowing seeds an inch deep and one to two inches apart. Water well and keep moist until seedlings begin to emerge, usually within seven to ten days. Peas are a vining crop and benefit from a low trellis or even just a row of branches to climb on.

  • Potatoes can be planted in mid-February. Purchase seed potatoes from a garden center. Seed potatoes usually give better results than potatoes purchased from the grocery store or those held over from the previous season. Plant seed pieces six inches deep and ten inches apart in the row with three feet between rows. Keep in mind twelve pounds of seed potatoes can plant around one hundred feet of row and yield over two hundred pounds of spuds. Potatoes can also be grown successfully in large containers. Depending on the variety, potatoes will take 85-110 days to grow to maturity.

  • Prune back ornamental grasses and ground covers in early February before new growth starts. Add mulch to beds if needed.

  • Scale can be a problem on hollies and other shrubbery outside and on houseplants indoors. Scale are small, hard bodied insects that often look like bumps on the bark or leaves of the plant. Scale on landscape plants can be treated with horticultural oils. Insecticidal soap is a good choice for scale on houseplants. A second treatment after two weeks is generally needed to control newly emerged scale insects. With any product, read and follow all label directions and remember that thorough coverage is critical for control.

  • Plants naturally change color in the winter and even evergreens like azaleas, gardenias and camellias can experience yellowing. Older leaves naturally yellow and drop off. If azaleas are discolored and the leaves show stippling (tiny discolored spots), spider mites could be the culprit. Spider mites can be controlled with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap.

  • If you are using a pre-emergent herbicide to control summer annual weeds (including crabgrass) in your lawn, aim to apply it around Valentine’s Day. If these chemicals are applied too late, you will not get adequate weed control. Read and follow all label directions. Avoid weed-and-feed formulations and wait until mid-May to June to fertilize warm season lawns.

  • Remove leaves and debris from lawns. Do not burn St. Augustine, centipede, or zoysiagrass lawns. Irrigation is usually not necessary during the winter months. The optimum time to seed or lay sod for a warm season lawn is in the spring.

Trees and shrubs
  • Dormant pruning of fruit trees and grapevines should be done in February, as should heavy pruning and rejuvenation pruning of most ornamental shrubs. Remember to wait and prune spring flowering shrubs such as azaleas and forsythia after they bloom.

Planting Plans!
  • Plan your spring vegetable garden. Cool season crops need to be planted early enough to harvest before the heat of summer hits. Beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard greens, onion, garden peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach and turnips can all be planted in February for spring harvest.

Want to plan ahead? Here are the planting dates for next month, too!

Beets 3/1-4/15
Swiss Chard 3/1-4/15
Dill 3/15-3/31
Corn 3/15-4/30
Snap Bean 3/20-6/15
Peas (Southern) 3/25-6/15
Upcoming Events

Growing Vegetables at Home- a 5 week series on vegetable gardening basics for the home gardener. See the flyer below for more information.
To register for the Growing Vegetables at Home workshop click on the flyer above or the button below!