If you thought February is when the gardener has nothing to do but wait for spring, that would not be correct: February is planting time.
Every year in the middle of winter my otherwise serene living room turns into a wild jungle, and for two blessed months I live inside a miniature greenhouse. It’s not all fun and games, of course, and between the water and dirt spilling on the carpet on my side, and the lack of appropriate lighting and the mold promoted by the excessive humidity of the starting trays on the plants’ side, come April I look forward to moving the little sprouts outdoors, and they do too. For now, however, their presence is nothing short of bliss.
Because the tomatoes tend to develop too fast and grow leggy and chlorotic if they get more than six weeks indoors, I always make the mistake to plant all the seeds late, and when the last frost passes I have to transplant outside small and wispy perennial seedlings that subsequently have trouble adjusting to the transition. Compared to the little cocoon of their starting tray, the vastness of the garden feels way too harsh for the little plants.
If you ever planted annuals and perennials together, no doubt you noticed that the perennials, programmed for longer life, are neither in a hurry to germinate, nor eager to sprout every one of their seeds. They take their sweet time to emerge, three weeks, four, even longer, during which the wise gardener keeps watering bare dirt, nervously chewing on his or her fingernails and feeling more and more inadequate as time progresses. At the end of this nail biting period, rarefied seedlings sprout. They are never vigorous and fast growing like the annual ones, and the gardener spends another couple of weeks wondering if they’re going to grow big and strong or give up the ghost. The few triumphant plants that decided to grace the seed pods linger for a few days longer between growing leggy and forgoing the opportunity altogether.
When the fittest specimens finally start to develop, it’s usually time to plant, and what looks like a strong, healthy start in the seed pod suddenly appears tiny and helpless in the barren dirt, still dry in the chilly spring, easily overtaken by any annual that sprouts in its vicinity, be it flower or weed, and looking for any excuse to check out.
And this is why this year I decided to give the perennial seedlings an extra month, which starts right now.

Author's Bio: 

Main Areas: Garden Writing; Sustainable Gardening; Homegrown Harvest
Published Books: “Terra Two”; “Generations”; "The Plant - A Steampunk Story"; "Letters to Lelia"; "Fair"; "Door Number Eight"
Career Focus: Author; Consummate Gardener;
Affiliation: All Year Garden; The Weekly Gardener; Francis Rosenfeld's Blog

I started blogging in 2010, to share the joy of growing all things green and the beauty of the garden through the seasons. Two garden blogs were born: allyeargarden.com and theweeklygardener.com, a periodical that followed it one year later. I wanted to assemble an informal compendium of the things I learned from my grandfather, wonderful books, educational websites, and my own experience, in the hope that other people might use it in their own gardening practice.