February is such an exciting time of year for gardeners. The first spring bulbs finally come out (albeit, with climate change this can happen earlier!), the days are getting longer, and we can finally start sowing more seeds. Spring is just around the corner and I can almost smell it.
It is also a month to practice self-control. Much of gardening is all about timing. Temperatures can still get extremely cold in February, so we should still be holding back on many gardening jobs. Still, if you’re itching to get started, there are plenty of gardening jobs you can do to prepare you for the season ahead.
If you haven’t already finalised your plans for the upcoming growing season, now is a great time before you find yourself in a last minute panic when everything is growing at 100mph. You can either draw out your own plan or use various garden planner apps online. Remember to try to rotate your crops from last season to prevent pest and disease build up, and soil nutrient depletion.
Part of the planning process also includes ensuring you have all the seeds you need, plus adequate compost and trays to sow them in.
Clearing beds & mulching
If you are like me and still haven’t finished clearing your garden from last season, February is a great time to get it done before everything kicks off. Hoe and rake beds to remove weeds, and then mulch with a well-rotted layer of organic matter to feed your soil. Compost and/or well-rotted manure are perfect for this.
Now is a great time to prune apple and pear trees. For tips on pruning these, read here. Hold off on pruning stone fruit trees until the summer. Wait until a warm spell in March for your lovely rose bushes. Now is also a great time to prune your autumn fruiting raspberry canes. Autumn raspberries are incredibly simple to prune, just chop the whole lot to a few inches above ground level!
February is a time where we can start sowing more seeds undercover. Please do bear in mind your geographical location for this though. I’m located in the south-east, so if you live in the north you may want to wait a little longer. If you have garden fleece, you can start sowing many crops from mid-month.
Vegetables you can sow this month include onions, spring onions, shallots, peas, cabbage, turnips, cauliflower, calabrese, kohl rabi, spinach, lettuce and fennel. You can also sow hardy annual herbs such as dill, parsley and coriander. If you didn’t sow broad beans in the autumn, you can sow these now too. And if you’ve still not planted your garlic, please, please plant this ASAP whilst we should still have more frosts ahead of us.
February is also a great time sow some slower-growing summer crops such as aubergines, peppers and chillies. Remember these all need warmth to germinate so will need to be in a warm room, by a radiator or in a propagator. If (and only if!), you have adequate space to grow tomatoes on windowsills with grow lights, you can also sow these towards the end of the month if they are destined for a greenhouse or polytunnel. I like to sow a few of my favourite tomatoes early, and then wait until March to sow the rest.
If you haven’t already, now is a great time to buy seed potatoes. I’ve written a whole blog post on choosing what potatoes to grow, so if you’re confused, find that post here.
Once you have your seed potatoes, it is common practice to ‘chit’ them. Chitting your potatoes is not essential but can give them a little head start for earlier crops. Chitting is just sprouting them before planting. It is common practice to put the potatoes on a windowsill in egg boxes to get them going. Do this as soon as you receive your seed potatoes.
Enjoy the calm before the storm
I hope this has given you some gardening inspo to get you through the final full month of winter. Last but not least, however, is to enjoy the calm before the storm that is the growing season! I’m sure there will be times during the growing season where you just want to put your feet up but you have to do the watering. So make the most of this down time while you can!