February has been a month I have been longing for. While I’ve not been spending a huge amount of time outside at the allotment, it is a month where I am gearing up to start sowing many of my seeds. Last month, I sowed my chillis and peppers, as these are slow growing plants. Unfortunately these have been rather slow to get going because it is my first time using new compost and the first time using my heated propagator and I wasn’t getting the watering quite right. I’ve now started watering very frequently so the seeds stay nice and moist and I am finally starting to see results. I also sowed my sweet peas, which are now doing much better since keeping them well watered too.
Please note that my sowing times as based on where I live. Luckily, here in the UK we generally have mild winters. The last frost date where I live is 15th May. It is worth checking the last frost date in your area and adjust sowing times accordingly. Even if you are UK based, this may be slightly different to mine. Always sway on the later side of when the last frost could be, as many sources say my last frost date is late April (which is most common), however this is not always the case. Last year despite a hot spring, we were hit with a late frost on the 13th of May, and I was very thankful I hadn’t got ahead of myself and put my frost tender plants outside by then.
Plants I’ve already sown but it’s not too late
If you haven’t already sown your peppers, chillies and aubergines (aka eggplant – which isn’t on my own growing list) then sow them ASAP if you have a greenhouse/polytunnel. If you have no indoor growing space then it may be best waiting until the latter end of the month. These plants germinate better with warmth, so put them in a propagator, a warm part of your house or near a radiator. Seeds often need warmer conditions to germinate than they do to grow. You can also still sow broad beans either in pots or directly in the ground. For beautiful late spring flowers sow your sweet peas now.
Plants for indoors
Unfortunately I just didn’t get around to sowing any of my tomatoes earlier in the month as planned. If I am honest, the cold weather has put me off getting outside and doing it. I am going to sow a handful of my tomatoes for the greenhouse ASAP. Not too many, as I don’t have the space to keep many larger plants inside. I will then most likely move them to the greenhouse in May. I will sow the rest of the tomatoes destined for the greenhouse around the turn of the month. It is probably worth holding off sowing any tomatoes until the end of the month if you do not have grow lights and space to pot them on as they grow larger. I am holding off sowing any outdoor tomatoes until mid-next month. I may sow some basil too, although these will likely be for keeping inside on my windowsill, but they may get moved to the greenhouse in the spring.
Plants for outdoors
All of the seeds for outdoors I will germinate at home and then move to the greenhouse. Many of the outdoor plants I am sowing this month will likely need protection once planted out. I bought a large amount of 30gsm fleece here. Please bear in mind, if you do not have fleece protection for your plants, it is probably worth waiting a couple more weeks for most of these.
If you wanted to grow very large onions, then ideally they would have been sown between boxing day and early January. Last year I sowed my onions at the start of January. Whilst some of them were impressively large, I found they weren’t the most practical. This year, I am trialing multi-sowing my onions and will sow them the weekend this post is published. If you haven’t already, sow your onions ASAP. They will not need any protection after planting out so do not worry if you don’t have fleece for them. My shallots I will sow at the same time as my onions. These will not be multi sown because as they grow larger they divide into multiple bulbs.
For many of my outdoor sowings this month, I will be following Charles Dowding’s sowing times. I will be sowing the first of my brassicas – summer cabbage, cauliflower, calabrese (the standard broccoli you buy in the shops), kohl rabi and turnips. Cold hardy herbs such as parsley and dill are also on my list. Coriander has much the same needs as parsley, so sow this too if you wish (this is something you will never see in my garden!). I will also sow salady plants such as lettuce, spinach, radish, florence fennel and possibly some spring onions and peas too. I may also try some beetroot, just as an experiment as it is a little early, but we will see how that turns out.
Flowers I will be sowing this month are nasturtium and French marigolds. The nasturtium I will grow partly for using in salads, but also to try and keep the butterflies away from my brassicas. The marigolds are my weapon against aphids – the marigolds attract the ladybirds which eat the aphids.
Multi-sowing is exactly what it says on the tin. You sow multiple of the same seeds in a single module of a cell tray. You then transfer all of the seeds together into the ground in one clump. This helps reduce planting time and maximises your growing space. It is also a form of companion planting. With multi-sowing you can then harvest the largest from each clump as you let the others continue to grow. This reduces the need to succession sow so often too. Charles Dowding has lots of Youtube videos on multisowing.
The first year I had my allotment, I multi-sowed my beetroot in modules before planting them out. I had great success using this method. Last year, I tried sowing my beetroot directly into the ground and the results weren’t great, and I had many gaps in my rows. This year I intend to try multi-sowing with more plants including onions, turnips, and radish. The number of seeds per module depends entirely on how large you want your plants to grow. The more per module, the smaller your plant will be, so do bear this in mind. I may vary the numbers of seeds per module as an experiment and see what works best for me.