Gardening Advice and Helpful Tips
Your Garden in February...
Plant Area Manager
As the days start to get longer, Will Clark says it’s time to start clearing the beds to get ready for a blooming spring.
Spring in sight
February is one of my favourite months in the garden. Bulbs are appearing and the garden is starting to wake up. Preparations for spring can begin now and as long as the ground isn’t frozen, you can start to get your vegetable seed beds ready for action by removing all weeds and forking in plenty of compost. Cover prepared soil to keep it drier and warmer in preparation for spring planting.
Though it is early, it’s time to start off the slower-growing half-hardy annuals and perennials. Pelargonium, Begonia and Osteospermum are easy to grow from seed if you have a warm windowsill or a heated corner in a glasshouse. Some seed takes two to three weeks to germinate, by which time it will nearly be March.
Check your tools are in good nick and your garden machinery is working. While you’re at it why not give your shed a good spring clean – you’ll thank yourself for a clean and tidy space come March!
Snowdrops are a cheerful sight in the garden at this time of year. Dividing and replanting is a great thing to do in February to increase the clumps. As the flowers begin to fade, dig up the snowdrops and gently tease the bulbs apart before replanting the snowdrops in groups of five.
Bright and earlies
Start chitting early potatoes — stand them on end in a module tray or egg box and place them in a bright, cool, frost-free place. Once grown, rub off all but the four strongest sprouts and when they have grown to around an inch, chitting is completed.
With spring on the way it’s worth preparing your lawn for the season ahead. One option it to install lawn edging which gives a neat and tidy appearance and makes maintenance easier. It’s a bit like a facelift for your lawn!
Wisteria is much more likely to flower if it’s pruned correctly. Don’t be scared to go in for the chop. Cut back the main shoot to 75cm above the topmost side shoots, then cut all the side shoots back by a third of their overall growth to a healthy growth bud. Removing spent flowers on Mahonia, Jasmine and Viburnum as well as trimming untidy branches will also encourage a blooming good season ahead.
National Nest Box week takes place in February, which is a scheme run to encourage us to add nest boxes to our gardens. When choosing your spot, make sure that you site your box out of the wind and strong sunlight. It should be about 1-3m above the ground, ideally on a tree trunk, but a wall or shed is fine, too.
Pots of winter bedding will bring a welcome splash of colour to the garden at this time of year. Primroses are a great choice and look beautiful paired with an evergreen such as Skimmia. Remember to keep the soil moist but not wet.
It’s never too early to start weeding! Make it a habit to pull out any weed seedlings like buttercup, nettle and couch while out and about in your garden. Bindweed might be more of an issue, as it delves deep when established. Where it is getting a hold, dig out plants that might be affected, carefully fork out and burn the white roots, and replant anything displaced by the upheaval.
October on the Veg Plot...
October is a great month to get ahead in the veg patch, writes Ruth McNamee.
Choose a sunny sheltered spot to sow broad beans. The variety Aquadulce Claudia does well from autumn sowing. Sow a double row with seeds 20cm apart. These plants should germinate, stand over winter and quickly establish when the weather warms. The crop can be enjoyed a couple of weeks earlier than spring sown seeds.
You can start to plant out garlic this month 15cm apart in rows 30cm apart. This can be left to next month if preferred. And there is still time to plant out overwintering onions. Make a shallow drill and place the sets pointy end up 15cms apart in rows 30cms apart. Onions are ready to harvest early next summer. Try onion and garlic in big pots and keep in a sheltered spot for the best results.
October is a great month to get your permanent planting done. It’s a good time to establish your fruit and asparagus beds while the soil is still warm from the summer heat. Rhubarb and asparagus crowns will now be available in the garden centre. Prepare the beds by removing all weeds. These crops will be in these beds for many years so it helps to give them a good start.
May is the month where strawberries flower so mulch plants with straw.
Prune early flowering shrubs such as the Forsynthia and Weigela.
Direct sow basil next to tomato seedlings to help draw white fly away.
Veg seeds that can be sown outdoors include courgette, beetroot and sprouts.
Lift and divide your spring bulbs and plant where you want for next year.
Check all foliage for lily beetle and greenfly and dispose of any found.
Gardening Jobs for January
Buy seeds to be sown in January or February.
Buy seed potatoes, onion sets and garlic.
Appraise the garden for form and structure, and plan alterations and additions.
Plant window boxes and containers for seasonal colour.
Protect vulnerable plants from frost and wind damage.
Firm in any autumn-planted shrubs and border plants lifted by frost.
Knock snow off branches, especially on conifers and hedges, if they are bending under the weight.
Check stakes and ties on newly planted trees.
Remember the birds in the garden and put out food for them, especially when it’s frosty.