Jobs to do in February

Jobs to do:-

Any veg areas should be weeded and roughly dug over with an addition of compost/mulch on the surface. Let the worms pull it down when it warms up. Frost will break up heavy soil.

 Top up raised beds with soil/compost/mulch.

Too early to apply fertiliser as the soil temperature is too cold.
If you want good potatoes, climbing beans or sweet peas and the ground isn’t sodden, then prepare trenches where your crops are to be grown.

Check bamboo canes or Hazel poles that they are up to the job of supporting your coming season's crop. If you have access to Hazel - cut for pea sticks and new bean poles.

Clear out old Brussel sprout plants, cabbages etc.
Try to start the season free of weeds, it makes for less weeding later on!
Order your veg seeds for the coming season or pop to your local garden centre.

Dead wooding:
Japanese acers have a lot of dead twigs in them- they go white and are very
brittle. Run your fingers through the branches gently from the middle of the tree to the tips of the branches like a comb. Larger dead stems use secateurs to cut out. This can also be done with Rhododendrons and Pieris.

Herbaceous Borders:
Cut down old flowered stems. Leave grasses until March. Use a spring tine rake to tidy up the surface, weed before applying
mulch and try not to tread on new bulbs and shoots pushing up !

If you are lucky enough to have a heated greenhouse or heated propagator you can start sowing tomatoes, salad crops like spinach, lettuce – Cos or the mixtures, cress, radishes, beetroot can be started even as baby leaves.
Start broad beans off in root trainers or sweet pea tubes. Talking of sweet peas, if you didn’t start them off last autumn now you can sow between now and March. Kings Seeds have a fabulous selection of the quintessential cottage garden flower for cut flowers and a fabulous scent! Any gardener will tell you there is nothing more exciting than seeing your first seedlings
germinating, pushing through the soil or popping out of their seed case, truly fantastic.

Please keep in mind that mice and voles love seeds and seedlings as well as emerging slugs or snails! Slugs and snails killed in February will be adults that have hibernated during the winter, so control now to reduce the problem later on. Use nematodes to control them or Sluggo Ultra from Neudorff.

Put cloches over cold or wet soil to warm and dry up, black plastic can also be used. Make sure it is well weighted down to stop flapping around.
Later this month if the weather allows and the soil warms up, sow parsnip, peas, carrots, garlic if not already planted, shallots and onion sets can also go in.

Fruit Trees:-
Winter wash before the buds break. Continue to prune apples and pears and ideally by the end of this month. Fruit tree grease needs applying or fruit bands, also check ties and stakes.
Peaches need spraying with copper fungicide to prevent peach leaf curl.
Mulch trees – keep mulch away from the trunk of the tree – remove if piled up against the trunk. If fruit trees are growing in grass, remove a circle or square of turf around the trunk and mulch, this enables less competition for the tree.

Fruit Bushes:-
Blackcurrants, gooseberries need pruning. I like to cut out old stems on bushes especially opening out the middle of the plant – more air and light, less gooseberry sawfly. Remove very low branches, aim for a ‘Goblet’ shape. If you grow standard gooseberries or currants then you prune differently, please refer to the RHS website.
Talking of fruit, I came across something new to me the other day whilst visiting a wonderful old garden in Sussex. An old fig tree growing against a wall, had been attacked at the base of the tree by wood mice or voles, completely stripping the bark. They had also dug under the tree around its base causing an amazing amount of damage, little blighters.
Raspberries – Autumn fruiting canes need cutting to the ground. I leave a few of the strongest canes tall to give some early fruit – cut off the top fruited part, invariably they are canes that
grew late in the season. If you want a superb variety go for ‘Joan J’, I think they are better than ‘Autumn Bliss’! Once cut down, weed mulch with compost/manure, raspberries are hungry plants.

Flower Garden:-
Lots to think about here – what shall I go for tubs and containers? Where do I need more colour in the garden? What colours do I/we like? What height colour do I need – front of border, middle or back?
The choice is huge whether to grow from corms, bulbs or tubers. New seasons Lillies, Gladiolis, Dahlias, Nerines, Cannas etc…
Then there are the seed collections, tickle your fancy, be adventurous and trial something new and completely different, seeds are remarkably good value.

Seed Sowing:-
Buy good quality seed compost. Bring the compost into the greenhouse to
warm-up, cold, wet compost isn’t nice to work with and certainly not for germinating seeds!
Start with clean seed trays, cell trays and lids, there is less chance of overwintering bugs and beasties. Don’t forget to label everything you sow with the name and date sown.
A heated propagator is a great investment for starting Tomatoes, Cucumber, Peppers and Chillies as they need a constant temperature of 18-25°c to germinate.
Delay seed sowing unless you can maintain 18 degrees C for
most seeds to germinate successfully. Most seeds fail from soil temperatures being too low or too high. A soil thermometer is a great purchase!
The obvious thing is to read the seed packets! Fabulous cultural instructions come with the seeds.

National Nest Box Week: 14– 21st February.
Your chance to help our British Birds and give them a New Home!
Look on the web site for more info. I can’t recommend more highly the Woodcrete Nest Boxes. Keep them fed and watered, there is very little natural food left at this time of year for garden, woodland and farmland birds.
As the days lengthen more birds start to sing. If you are out for a walk stop, close your eyes and listen! Work out how many songs you can hear and from which direction, then see if you can identify them! Good fun. Enjoy.

Scent in a garden:
Don’t miss out. Daphnes in flower, Daphne ‘Jaqueline Postill’, Limpsfield, Garden House Ghost, Mary Rose, Darljeeling, to name a few..

Happy Gardening everybody!

Better weather is on its way fairly soon…
Kind regards