Most of Britain is still submerged in winter weather in February, but the things you can do and sow are multiplying! Snowdrops have appeared, and hellebores are well on their way, as are crocuses. Make the most of frost-free days and do not wait until March to start sowing seeds or digging over. Days will quickly go by, and what you are too lazy to do on one weekend you will be unable to do the following due to cold rain or frozen soil. It’s worth pointing out that the timing of these tasks will depend on which area you live in the country. The further north you are, the more you are likely to wait to carry out some of these tasks. Here’s what you can do in your garden this month.
In the garden:
- Now is the time to cut back plants such as clematis, wisteria and winter-flowering shrubs. You can also prune your hydrangea and dogwood on a mild day.
- Cut back ornamental grasses and sedums.
- Cut back old hellebore leaves to avoid leaf mould, remove faded flowers of winter annuals such as pansies and lift and divide snowdrops.
- Rake and scarify the lawn. With the rake you will collect any fallen leaves and moss that has grown on the surface. You will also get rid of any read grass or overcrowded grass seedlings. By using a fork to make holes in the lawn, you will allow air to circulate.
- Divide herbaceous perennials in order to propagate them around the garden.
In the kitchen garden:
- Now is the time to start preparing your plot in earnest. Dig over your beds and remove any weeds; pay special attention if the site is rampant with mare’s tail.
- As you dig over the soil you may come across clusters of white, round eggs. These are most likely slug eggs. Dispose of them! You might also dig up some caterpillars or other dormant insects. Get rid of them too!
- Place water buts on the plot to collect water in the warmer weather.
- Cover the ground with polythene and secure with hooks or bricks. This will help warm the soil.
- Cut down autumn-fruiting raspberries.
- You can still prune gooseberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants.
- Also prune apple and pear trees while they are still dormant and protect the blossom from apricots, nectarines and peaches.
- Collect empty egg boxes – or cardboard coffee holders from your office’s visits to the café – and start chitting your potatoes.Many believe it helps earlies and second earlies get a head start.
- If you sowed green manure last season, now is the time to turn over the soil and help the the soil get some well-deserved nutrients.
- Make the most of your cold frames! Also, make sure your pots and cloches are clean.
- Pick any leaves lying around, and tidy the leaves olf old strawberry plants.
- Cover your rhubarb to force it and mulch perennial vegetables such as asparagus, as well as fruit trees.
Don’t get carried away sowing everything at once! Make a selection; and from that don’t sow all the seeds. Do one sowing now, and then do another in March and so on. You want to avoid getting a glut of everything in June and then nothing for the rest of the growing season!
- Order onion sets
- French beans
- Sweet peas
- There is still time to plant garlic. Check your variety to make sure.
- Sow hardy annuals such as calendula and scabious.
- You can still plant bulbs such as alliums and lilies.
Remember to keep turning your trays every day once your seedlings start showing. Because of the winter sun, the seedlings will lean towards the window, making the plant leggy. By turning them, the plant will recentre itself and keep searching the light. You could also stroke the seedlings. This represents the wind and elements, and it stimulates the plant to grow a stronger stem.
- Scrub down your patio with a hose to get rid of debris and moss that has accumulated over the winter months.
- Birds will still find it difficult to look for food. Fill up your birdfeeders or make fat balls.
- Remember to wash your pots before you start sowing new seeds. Warm soapy water should do it.
- Improve drainage of heavy soil (such as clay) with organic matter.
- While you’re at it, why not test your soil for pH and nutrient levels. You can request a soil test pack from the RHS.
- Ensure the greenhouse is clean and free of mould.
- Sort out your seeds. Chuck out any that are out of date, and order the ones you’re keeping into order of sowing.
- Plan your veg plot!
Have we missed anything? Let us know by writing in the comments below!