Although it is often still cold and wet in February, there are signs of new life in the garden. The work you do in February will pave the way for a beautiful and productive year ahead. So, put on your coat and wellies and get some February gardening jobs done.
Start by taking care of any pots and containers to prepare them for a productive and beautiful year ahead. Plants that are permanently in pots will need some attention now to thrive in the year ahead. If the plant has become root-bound you will need to repot it into a larger pot. Otherwise, you can simply top-dress the plant by removing the top couple of inches of soil and replacing it with new.
It is notoriously difficult to grow snowdrops from bulbs. So, if you want snowdrops in your garden, buy some now and then plant them out after they have flowered but before the leaves have died back. This will ensure a good display next spring.
If you have bulbs flowering indoors you can plant them out once the flowers die off. Harden them off by putting them out during the day and bringing them in at night for a few days. This will allow them to adjust to colder temperatures.
You can sow sweet peas under cover now for a colourful and beautifully scented display in summer. Plant the seeds in deep containers about an inch below the surface and cover with newspaper to keep moisture and warmth in and light out. They should germinate in about ten days, after which you should remove the newspaper. You can also sow snapdragons, lobelia and geraniums under cover now for early flowers.
If you have a vegetable patch, covering part of it with a cloche or some polythene will dry and warm the soil so you can sow seeds a little earlier. You can then sow vegetables that need a long growing season such as leeks, as well as summer cabbage, Brussels sprouts, calabrese and cauliflower.
Now is the perfect time to start chitting early potatoes ready for planting out in late February or early March. Place your seed potatoes in trays or egg boxes with the end that has the most eyes uppermost. Put them in a cool bright spot such as a windowsill until they have shoots about 1-2 cm long.
For an early crop of peas. sow them in sections of guttering in the greenhouse or a cloche. Peas don’t like being transplanted so growing them this way means you can easily transfer then to a furrow in the ground without disturbing the roots. You can sow broad beans under cover now, too. You can also sow cucumbers, tomatoes, aubergines and peppers in the greenhouse or on a windowsill. Basil seeds grown in pots on the windowsill will add freshness to Italian dishes over the summer.
February is also the best time to prune autumn fruiting raspberries. Cut all the old stems back to the ground and apply a good covering of organic fertiliser.
Remember to keep providing food and water for the birds. Now is also a great time to install nest boxes so that the birds have time to get used to them before nesting season. Just make sure the boxes are protected from cats.
Keep off the lawn during heavy frosts to avoid damaging them. However, if it is reasonably warm and dry you can re-cut edges now. If you are planning to sow a new lawn in spring now is the time to prepare the ground. Dig over the area and remove any perennial weeds. The frosty weather will help break down large clods of earth.
February is a good time to tidy and make any necessary repairs to the garden and prepare for the year ahead.
Check all stakes, fences and buildings are in a good state of repair and fix any that have been damaged by winds. Clean patios and paths to remove slippery mud, moss and algae.
Tidying the borders will make your winter garden look well cared for. Keeping on top of winter-germinating weeds now ensures plants get all the nutrients and light they need and makes things easier in spring. You can also deadhead winter-flowering pansies for a longer show. Removing large tatty leaves on plants such as hellebores will show off the flowers better.
Check all your gardening equipment to make sure it is in perfect condition when you need it. Clean and sharpen tools, check mowers and strimmers are working and buy items such as strimmer wire.
When it’s too cold and wet to do any outdoor February gardening jobs, spend some time planning for the coming year. If you made notes at the end of last year on any changes you wanted to make you can start working towards them now. It's not too late to plant new shrubs in any gaps in the borders. You can also order flower and veg seeds to ensure you have a productive and beautiful garden in the spring and summer months.
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