February is a time of preparation in the garden with an expectation of things to come. Early spring bulbs are coming through but, as we saw last year, the weather can bite hard and put back any of our best laid plans……….
So the list of February jobs is dependant on weather conditions and if your soil is workable. If you have use of a heated greenhouse or space on indoor windowsills then sowing can be started. But even if you just do some tidying up in the garden it’s time well spent before Spring starts.
• Sow Autumn leeks thinly in a tray of compost and cover lightly and keep moist.
•If you didn’t start sweet peas in Autumn sow in toilet roll inners now. You can use the same method for broad beans if weather is too harsh to sow direct on the plot.
• For early potatoes start off varieties such as ‘Swift’ in large tubs of compost in a heated greenhouse.
• Start sowing early brassicas such as cauliflower and summer cabbage.
• Towards the end of the month sow tomatoes, chillies and peppers. These need a long growing season to fully ripen so need to be started early in a heated space.
• Sow peas. A good method is to sow in a length of guttering that can be easily transferred to the veg plot later to avoid handling the young plants.
• Plant garlic cloves in pots if not already done.
• Sow hardier herbs such as Parsley. Rocket and certain varieties of lettuce can be sown towards the end of the month.
• Sow slower growing half-hardy annuals and perrenials such as Pelargonium and Begonia.
• Chit seed potatoes. Stand in egg trays.
On the Plot
• Continue to tidy and dig the plot if soil is workable. Well rotted manure and compost can be added if not already done.
• Hand weed around any Autumn sown crops such as Japanese Onion sets and Broad Beans.
• Jerusalem Artichoke tubers can be planted out. If harvesting and re-planting be careful to dig out every bit of tuber.
• Keep filling runner bean trench with kitchen waste.
• Use cloches to warm the soil ahead of spring sowing.
• Prune fruit trees and canes. Sprinkle a handful of potash fertiliser around fruit trees. If you have bought any bare-root trees get them in now. Cut stems of Autumn-fruiting raspberries to soil level.
• Force established Rhubarb crowns by covering with a forcing pot or bucket.
• Draw up a plan of your plot so you know where each group of vegetables will go and have a record for future years to ensure good rotation.
• Clean the greenhouse, any frames, pots and trays. Jeyes fluid is good for the inside of your greenhouse killing off anything nasty that is lurking to attack your spring plants. Warm soapy water is a good start for pots and trays.
In the Garden
• Plant new Rose bushes. But don’t prune existing ones until next month as harsh frosts can burn new cuts.
• Prune grapevines, Wisteria, summer-flowering Clematis, and Buddleia. Deadhead Hydrangea flowers.
• Mulch around emerging spring bulbs. Bring pots of spring bulbs into the greenhouse as required.
• Divide herbaceous perrenials that have become congested.
• Cut back last year’s dead material from perrenials as close to the base as possible before new growth starts.
• Clear weeds as they emerge.
• Scarify and spike lawn if required. Clear any remaining leaves.
• Clear leaves from pond and check and clean pump.
• Put as much waste material from the garden on the compost heap as possible (rather than burning) to allow sheltering insects to escape as the weather warms.
• Continue to feed garden birds and provide a water source.
• Put up nesting boxes for birds.
• Check through stocks of compost, fertilisers, pots etc and buy whatever is needed for spring sowing ahead of time. If you’re looking for a peat-free compost the brand ‘New Horizon’ has been recommended in recent Which magazine trials.
Winter vegetables such as Leeks, Brussel Sprouts, Kale and Parsnips can continue to be harvested when the ground is not frozen. If harsh weather threatens root vegetables can be stored and kept fresh in a box of damp sand.
If you have any suggestions for February jobs please add them to the comments on this post.
Today’s Hampshire Potato Day at Whitchurch was well attended, with hundreds of varieties on offer. Time to start chitting your first earlies in the next couple of weeks for planting out mid-late March.