Posts Tagged ‘february gardening advice’

February Gardening Advice

February 1st, 2020 | News | 0 Comments

It’s hard to believe that next month we’ll be greeting spring with open arms. However, winter’s not ready to give up the season without a fight. This month can quite often be the coldest of the year, so don’t be seduced into thinking you should immediately start sowing outside. This is a time of patience, planning and preparing.

Whilst you can, take the time to enjoy February’s offerings. Whether it’s a winter hellebore, primrose or the early arrival of a golden daffodil, these blooms are short-lived and should be celebrated. It’s a moment of calm, stillness and looking ahead to a fruitful growing season.

In the flower garden

Snowdrops

Now’s the moment to lift, divide and re-plant snowdrops. Over the years, they will naturally increase and spread. However, a gardener’s intervention can result in larger displays, without such a lengthy wait. With the flowers past their best, and returned to their ‘green state’, this task can be done without risking harm to the clump.

Perennials

Before spring kicks in and plants begin putting on new growth, divide established perennial plants in your herbaceous borders. After several seasons, these plants will have filled their planting area and become over-crowded. By dividing them, you’re not only keeping the original plant healthy, but gaining several new plants at no extra financial cost. Quite often a sharp spade is the best way to divide them. Think about how you want your border to look this summer, and re-plant accordingly.

Shrubs that have just finished flowering, such as witch hazel, can be pruned. Prune hard on shrubs such as cornus, buddleia and salix. Also, prune wisteria by cutting back to just above three buds. Providing the soil isn’t frozen or waterlogged, shrubs can be dug-up and moved to a new growing position. Ensure you plant in well, water, and give the shrub a good mulch.

Borders

A garden pitch fork dug in the ground into some mulch and soil

Remove all weeds and fallen debris and cut away last season’s dead perennial foliage. Finally mulch the area, ideally to the depth of six inches, as this will help suppress weeds. Be careful not to cover perennials, shrubs or protruding bulb shoots as this will prevent the sunlight and warmth reaching them and could encourage rot. By doing this now, not only are you smartening up your growing area, but the mulch will eventually breakdown into the soil. This will help improve structure and ensure you start spring will healthy borders.

Grasses

As winter begins to retreat, ornamental grasses will start to look a little ragged. Deciduous varieties should be cut back hard with a pair of shears to avoid any new green growth. This may seem drastic but don’t worry, they’ll thank you for it. Varieties such as stipa need nothing more than a good comb. By using your hands, and a sensible pair of gloves to prevent cuts, simply drag your fingers through the clump, removing old growth.

Greenhouse

If you have a heated greenhouse, polytunnel, or a well-lit, warm, windowsill, you could set about sowing hardy annual and perennial seeds. Cornflower, cosmos and french marigolds can now be sown.

Fill a seed tray or 9cm pot with seed or multi-purpose compost. Once filled, tap down the container gently, and brush the excess soil from the rim. Sow your seeds thinly over the surface, and cover over with a thin layer of compost or vermiculite. Label sown seeds and place container in a couple of inches of water. It’s preferable to let the pot draw the water from the bottom, leaving the seeds undisturbed – watering from above can easily scatter the seeds and hamper germination. Finally, place in a bright and warm spot. Check every few days for germination, and ensure soil remains moist.

Pansies and violas surrounded by green foliage in autumn/winter

Pansies and violas

To keep pansies and violas looking their best, and continue providing well-needed colour during these winter months, regular deadheading is key. If you let plants go to seed, they will stop producing blooms. Remove fading or diseased blooms, making the cut just above a lower pair of leaves. If you’re growing them in pots or containers, ensure they don’t dry out but don’t overwater. If you have them in the ground, keep an eye out for pests such as slugs and snails.

Clematis

You can prune late flowering Clematis, Prune Group 3 (for definitions of each group, visit the RHS website), they flower from mid to late summer on newly grown stems. Cut back last year’s growth down to a strong pair of buds, about 30cm above the ground. Spread out the stems, tie them into a support frame and mulch around the base of the plant. Once spring temperatures start to rise, they will quickly put on new growth.

Garden wildlife

Continue to keep bird-feeding stations supplied with food and fresh water. If the weather is too bad to work in, then this might be the time to retreat to the shed and think about building a nest box. Garden birds will soon be looking for nests to hatch their chicks, so why not help bring birdlife into your garden and install a nest box.

On the veg patch

Raspberries

A gardener's hand pruning raspberry stalks with a pair of secateurs

Cut all autumn fruiting varieties down to an inch above the ground. Mulch around the raspberry stalks, ensuring you don’t cover them over. If you want a longer growing season, cut only half of your stock down to above the ground. The untouched canes will provide fruit earlier in the season.

Plant bare-root varieties can be bought and planted out. Planted summer varieties should be cut down to ten inches, whilst autumn varieties should be cut down to an inch above the soil. Ensure all canes get a heavy mulch.

Fruit trees

There’s still time to prune your fruit trees and soft fruit, such as gooseberries, as they’re still dormant. Beyond this, tree sap will be on the rise, so pruning too late might create a seeping wound, thus damaging the tree. Consider buying bare rootstock varieties, rhubarb crowns, and plant out.

Chitting

By now, ordered seed potatoes should be arriving in the post, whilst tubs of chitting potatoes will be sat in garden nurseries waiting to go to new homes. Once you’ve bought your varieties, it’s important to start chitting. Sit them in containers – empty eggboxes are ideal – ensure they aren’t touching one another and their eyes are looking skyward. The potatoes should be placed in a cool, light, warm area – windowsills and conservatories are ideal.  Six weeks from now, they should be ready for planting out.

Sow

If you have a cold frame or greenhouse with a heat source, consider sowing onions, beetroot, cabbage, leeks, spring onion, lettuce and radishes. If you sow into large plugs and thin your seedlings out accordingly, then your young plants can continue to grow on until you’re ready to plant out. This method will not only give you the time to prepare the plot, but give the soil an opportunity to warm up in the early spring weather. Bear in mind, it’s still a low winter sun, so light levels can make plants leggy.

Gardener's hands sowing seeds into a black seed tray with modules full of soil

Early varieties of peas and beans can be sown indoors. As legumes have a deep root system, ideally you want to sow them in root trainers as they don’t like their roots disturbed. Not only are you providing the best opportunity to grow strong plants, but when you plant out the roots won’t suffer from stress.

If you’re hoping to sow seeds, such as carrot, straight into the ground, wait until at least the end of the month and try to do it on a frost-free sunny day. Warm the allocated plot by covering over a few weeks before sowing with either cloche or fleece. This extra warmth will help seed germination. Stagger your sowing, otherwise months from now you may find yourself with a glut.

Parsnips

If you still have parsnips growing, lift and store. Beyond February, these tapered roots will start sprouting and their taste could become woody. Place carefully into a box, cover with dry sand, and store somewhere cool and out of sunlight.

Storage

Check regularly for any damage or decay on any fruit or veg you having been storing over winter. Anything spoilt, remove at once and destroy. Ensure remaining produce is individually spaced to prevent further contamination and to encourage good airflow.

Other jobs

  • Continue to water and feed any amaryllis bulbs, as this may encourage the flower to return late next autumn or winter.
  • Trim hedges before birds begin nesting.
  • With little growth in the garden, you can clearly see its structure, giving you a clear blueprint of the space. Repair any structures, fencing or stonework. Create new beds, water features or raised vegetable beds.

February Gardening Advice

February 1st, 2019 | News | 0 Comments

February Gardening Advice

Not even the promise of romance this Valentine’s Day can melt the cold heart of winter. But the sight of a shy hellebore or a solitary crocus might be just the thing to break the ice. This is an unpredictable month, so don’t be in a hurry to sow as before you know it, the weather will have turned for the worse, and your hard work will be ruined. Patience is key.

So, wrap up warm, go outside and enjoy the stillness of winter. A lone robin, a snow-covered allotment, or frozen husks of perennial plants huddled together are unique sights that should be enjoyed.

In the flower garden

Borders

Borders may have suffered over recent months, but now’s the time to prepare them for the warmer months ahead. Cut away last season’s dead perennial foliage, and remove all weeds and fallen debris. Give the area a thick mulch, as this will help suppress weeds. Do not cover perennials, shrubs or protruding bulb shoots, as this will prevent sunlight and warmth reaching them and will encourage the onset of rot.

Whilst in the borders, turn your attention to perennials. If you’ve left their seeded heads for nature, or as something structural to look at over winter, now’s the time to cut them down to base level. Encourage more plants by dividing them with a sharp spade. Think ahead to how you want your summer borders to look.

Grasses

Deciduous varieties will now benefit from being cut back hard with a pair of shears. This may seem drastic, but don’t worry, they will thank you for it. Varieties such as stipa, need nothing more than a good comb. By using your hands and a sensible pair of gloves to prevent cuts, simply drag your fingers through the clump, removing old growth.

February Gardening Advice - Snowdrops

Divide

Snowdrops will now be fading and returning to their green form. Although they will naturally increase in number over time, you can speed up the process by lifting, dividing and re-planting, and now’s the time to do it.

Pruning

This is the month to prune late-flowering clematis. They flower from mid to late summer, and on newly grown stems. Cut back last year’s growth to a strong pair of buds, about 30cm above the ground. Tie them into a support frame, and mulch around the base of the plant. As soon as the temperature starts to rise, they will quickly put on growth.

Prune wisteria by cutting back to three buds, and prune hard on shrubs such as cornus, buddleia and salix.

Pansies and Violas

Keep pansies and violas looking their best by deadheading regularly. This will prevent them from going to seed. Remove fading or diseased blooms by making the cut just above a lower pair of leaves. If you’re growing them in pots or containers, ensure they don’t dry out, but don’t overwater. If you have them in the ground, keep an eye out for pests, such as slugs and snails.

Sweet Peas

Sweet pea seeds can sometimes be challenging to germinate. Leave them overnight in water, or create a tiny hole in the seed so it can take in water. Fill 7cm pots with multi-purpose compost and sow three seeds to a pot. Cover with 2cm of compost, and water. Remember to label your varieties, then place the pots in a greenhouse or cold frame.

February Gardening Advice - Polytunnel

Greenhouse

If you have a heated greenhouse, a polytunnel, or even a well-lit, warm, windowsill, hardy annual and perennial seeds such as cornflower, cosmos and echinacea can now be sown. Overfill a small pot or tray with either seed or multi-purpose compost. Tap the container gently, and brush the excess soil from the rim. Sow your seeds thinly over the surface, and then cover over with a thin layer of compost, or vermiculite. Once labelled, place your container in a couple of inches of water. It’s preferable to let the pot draw the water from the bottom, leaving the seeds undisturbed, as watering from above can easily scatter the seeds, disrupting their growing environment and hampering germination. Place in a bright and warm spot.

Garden Wildlife

Continue to keep bird-feeding stations supplied with food and fresh water. If the weather is too bad to work in, then this might be the time to retreat to the shed and think about building a nest box. Garden birds will soon be looking for nests to hatch their chicks, and installing a nest box will encourage them into your garden.

On the veg patch

Raspberries

Cut autumn fruiting raspberries down to an inch above the ground. Mulch around the raspberry stalks, ensuring you don’t cover them over. If you want a longer growing season, cut only half of your stock down to above the ground. The untouched canes will provide fruit earlier in the season.

Fruit Trees

Although spring will soon be here, there’s still ample time to prune dormant fruit trees and soft fruit. Beyond this, tree sap will be on the rise, and pruning too late could damage the tree. Consider buying bare rootstock varieties, and rhubarb crowns, and plant out.

February Gardening Advice - time to start chitting your potatoes

Chitting

Order your stock! Leave it any later and you may find your favourite variety is no longer available. As soon as your potatoes arrive, place them in a warm, dry area with plenty of sunshine. Stand them upright, egg boxes make a great holder, with their eyes facing upwards. After several weeks they should have healthy shoots.

Sow

With the soil prepared, early varieties of carrot, such as Early Nantes or Amsterdam Forcing can be sown under cloches.

With a cold frame or greenhouse, the following can be sown into plug trays; onions, beetroot, cabbage, leeks, spring onion, lettuce, radishes, and tomatoes. If you sow into large plugs, and thin your seedlings out accordingly, then your young plants can continue to grow on until you’re ready to plant out. This method gives you time to prepare the plot, and also gives the soil an opportunity to warm up.

If you’re hoping to sow seeds, such as carrot, straight into the ground, wait until at least the end of the month. Ideally, warm the allocated plot, by covering the soil for a few weeks with either a cloche, or plastic sheeting. This extra warmth is precious when trying to germinate seeds, such as carrots and parsnips. Remember to stagger your sowing to avoid gluts.

Broad Beans

You can begin sowing broad beans now. As these legumes have a deep root system, ideally you want to sow them in root trainers as they don’t like their roots disturbed. Not only are you providing the best opportunity to grow strong plants, but when you plant out, the roots won’t suffer from stress. Use a good multi-purpose compost, push the seeds down to the depth of 2cm. Water well and place in either a greenhouse or cold frame. They’ll be ready to plant out, come March.

February Gardening Advice - lift and store any parsnips growing over winter

Storage

Check regularly for any damage or decay on any fruit or veg you having been storing over winter. Anything spoilt, remove at once and destroy. Ensure remaining produce is individually spaced to prevent further contamination, and to encourage a good airflow. If you still have parsnips growing, lift and store them. Place carefully into a box, cover with dry sand, and store somewhere cool and out of sunlight.

 

Other Jobs

  • Check houseplants for whitefly and aphids
  • Any remaining bulb plants that have finished blooming can be taken outside, or kept in a greenhouse, to let the foliage die back. However, continue to water and feed amaryllis bulbs, as this may encourage the flower to return late next autumn, or winter.
  • Order seeds, summer plants and plug plants.