Magazine

In the Garden : February

February is with us, bringing hopes of an early spring to brighten what has been a difficult winter! Strange though, how through the last couple of years, our gardens have proved to be our inspiration and salvation. 

Let’s take a look at what’s new in the gardening world to stimulate the juices and get us growing!

Pandemic apart, climate change was the major topic during 2021 and with it a realisation that we must appreciate the importance of sustainability in everything we do – and that includes our homes and gardens!

Many of us now appreciate how our gardens can help in ‘carbon capture’, as plants and in particular trees, can absorb large quantities of carbon dioxide from the air. Even the grass on our lawns plays its part!

At the breaking of the new year came news of a new government policy of paying subsidies to farmers in ‘re-wilding’ some of our less productive farmland. If you have the room, why not consider doing your bit but by planting an additional tree or maybe a shrub in the garden or perhaps sowing some wild flowers to encourage pollinating insects.

Every little helps!

Let’s take a look at our gardening tasks for February:

LAWNS

Lawns can be mown in dry weather with the mower cutter on a high setting as long as frost is not forecast.

Preparation can begin for new, spring-sown lawns and turf too can be laid in good weather but avoid frosty spells.

The arrival of February can herald mole activity and subsequent mole hills. Rake out the surface and firm to over sow in spring. Sweep off any worm casts.

Sweep off leaves and debris to prevent damage to the turf.

FLOWERS

Snowdrops and aconites flower and fade – it’s an opportunity to lift plants, split them up and spread the community!

Continue to lift and split perennial roots to gain more plants or prevent overcrowding.

Provide spring colour by planting up patio containers with pansies, polyanthus, wallflowers and myosotis.

Time to sow annuals/perennials in a heated greenhouse or conservatory for those needing a long growing period before they will flower. Try begonias, geraniums, antirrhinums and dahlias.

Sweet peas are always an essential for their delightful scent, but use deep pots, they like a long root run.

Begin planting summer flowering bulbs, corms etc. in pots for the patio.

Cut back fuchsias overwintered fuchsias inside and remove yellowing leaves to keep the greenhouse clean and tidy.

VEGETABLES

Tidy up existing vegetable plots.

Begin ‘chitting’ early potatoes standing them on end in trays in a dry conservatory or greenhouse.

If you have a patio and not much border space, consider investing in ‘raised beds’ for earlier crops and easier management. There are many kits available, though it is quite easy to make your own if you have the time.

It’s time to sow early tomatoes, chilli’s, sweet peppers and aubergines. There are lots of new ones to tempt you in the new seed catalogues.

Add plenty of compost or well-rotted manure to your veg plot and add lime if your soil is acid in nature.

FRUIT

Continue to prune top fruit whilst the trees are dormant, removing dead/diseased wood and opening out the tree centres.

Cane fruit – complete pruning of currants, gooseberries and autumn fruiting raspberries.

Plant bare-root apples, pears etc. in frost-free soil.

Towards the end of the month when apricots, nectarines and peaches come into bloom you may need to protect the blossom with fleece if frosts are forecast.

Plant new rhubarb crowns or split existing ones if becoming overcrowded.

Pot up a few strawberries for early fruiting under glass

Cover some outdoor strawberries with cloches or fleece to advance fruiting.

SHRUBS

Prune late and autumn flowering clematis and winter flowering shrubs such as winter jasmine and mahonia as they finish flowering

Apply slow-release fertilizer around roses and shrubs, ready for the new season.

There’s still time to prune rhododendrons, roses etc. whilst plants are dormant.

We began our review of February by talking about climate change and carbon capture. Currently, there is much discussion on tree planting. Perhaps your garden is too full to contemplate planting another tree? Well then, why not consider commemorating the life of a departed loved one or celebrate the arrival of a new family member and help sustain future generations by funding a planting? Contact the Woodland Trust for further details.

I am a horticulturalist by trade, beginning my career by attending the Hertfordshire College of Horticulture where I acquired the Higher National Diploma in Commercial Horticulture. I then moved on to Bath University to obtain my Bsc.

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