February is officially the start of spring with rising temperatures and increasing daylength. As the month progresses the garden begins to show signs of life with bulbs appearing and wildlife waking up. Planting, pruning, soil preparation and early sowings are jobs waiting to be carried out once weather conditions are suitable:
- One of the first jobs of the gardening year is to start chitting potatoes. Stand potatoes in a shallow tray eyes upright in a light, cool, frost free place.
- Plant shallots and garlic if conditions are suitable towards the end of the month.
- Outdoor sowings of the parsnips, spinach and broad beans can also be made towards the end of the month if soil conditions are suitable.
A range of vegetable seeds can now be sown indoor such as lettuce, tomatoes, beetroot, peas, leeks, celery, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, radish and carrots. Sow in small pots covered in cling film until germinated.
- Clear away all dead foliage around the rhubarb stools and cover with a `forcer` or a large pot.
- Dig and store ant root crops still in the ground.
- Apply approximately 20 grams per m² of sulphate of potash around all fruit trees.
- Cover strawberry plants with garden fleece to encourage early fruiting.
- Check lawn mower engine and if necessary have it serviced before grass growth takes off. Always change the oil before grass cutting gets underway.
- If it is warm enough treat sheds, fences and trellis with a wood preserver before staining or painting.
- Brighten up dull months by planting borders and containers with pansies, violas, primulas and heathers to provide a splash of colour right up to the summer months.
In mild areas prune roses and remove any dead or damaged stems. Apply topdressing around each rose using a product such as Miracle-Gro Rose`Plus`.
- Complete the pruning of fruit trees, climbers and shrubs before new growth starts. The worst frosts are usually over.
- Tidy up perennial and shrub beds now that spring is here. Cut down last year’s dead growth from hardy perennials and spread a layer of mulch around each perennial.
Note: As the seasonal activities begin the following Barbara Winkler quote registers in the mind of all gardeners. “Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle, a seed waiting to grow, a bulb opening to light, a bud straining to unfurl. And the anticipation nurtures our dream”.