With the ongoing cold, went and wind, it’s hard to think about spring. February is the month we have the heaviest rain and strongest winds, even if the coldest temperatures of winter are now behind us. However, it’s never too early to start getting your garden ready though and the heavy rain typical of February will make the soil in your garden nice and soft, easy for turning. Here is how you can keep your garden looking great for the few weeks left of winter and get ready for spring.
Turn Your Soil Over
Ground frost can make your soil hard and a lack of rain in December and January can compound frozen soil. February has two advantages over November-January: warmer temperatures and rain. Both are conducive to making soil easier to manage. After months of being left alone, the best thing you can do to prepare your soil now is to turn it over, loosen it up and prepare for a March-April period full of planting. Also, aerate your lawn. You don’t need an expensive tool, just an old broom handle to punch holes in the soil at regular spaces.
Chit Your Seed Potatoes
Although some people tend to leave their potatoes until March, there is no reason not to start the process mid or late February. How do you chit your seed potatoes? Plant them carefully upright, selecting those with two or more eyes and ensure they go in a sunny place in the garden not prone to frost. The farther south you are, the earlier you can get away with planting. An east or west-facing porch is the best place, but anywhere that your potatoes will get the best of the winter sun and little frost will be ideal.
Focus on Winter Plants and Perennials
Winter flowering plants are now likely past their best so it is a good time to begin preening dead flowers and leaves as we head towards spring. Preening always stimulates growth and keeps plants looking fresh and feeling healthy; winter is still here so you might still get some good growth still. You should also spend some time on your perennials; cut back wisteria and other hardy plants back to a couple of buds. You will be thankful for the effort in the summer when they are in full bloom.
Ventilate Your Greenhouses
While February is known for its cold and wet, the occasional sunny and mild days indicate the spring to come. You will find increasing hours of sun in February so do take advantage of it. Ventilate your greenhouses to get the air circulating and maximise exposure to the sun for the plants inside. Now is also the perfect time to plant bulbs and seeds to go under cover. This means cloches and low cabinet style greenhouses. The combination of warm sun, greenhouse effect, protection from frost and pests will give them a great head start.
What to Plant in February?
February is the beginning of the planting season for some crops. Many will go in the greenhouse but some you can plant directly outdoors. We’ve already discussed potatoes above. Here are a few more.
- Rhubarb: this popular British fruit is an early crop. Planting crowns now when you’re confident that the worst of the frost is over will mean you’re enjoying the fruit early in the year.
- Raspberries and blackberries: This can be tricky, plant if the soil is neither waterlogged nor frozen (and is unlikely to experience either for the rest of the season).
- Broad beans: It’s still too early for some of the broad beans’ cousins, but as with raspberries and blackberries, you can plant now if there is no significant frost or waterlogging.
- Strawberry plants: For such a delicate, sweet and delicious fruit, the strawberry plant is incredibly resilient. Plant now for an ideal crop for Wimbledon