Despite the cold weather, February is the month I get the most excited about. Admittedly, I am still not spending that much time out in the garden and the weather looks like it is going to drop below zero quite a few more times before spring finally arrives. But the days are slightly longer, the sun has a little warmth to it and on a sunny day the sky is a rich enough blue to remind you that, well, there's blue skies ahead.

Last year's winter was so bitter and long that I didn't spend enough time in the garden in February or March and as a consequence I don't think I was ready for the hot summer. My warm-climate fruit and veg was not far enough along to gain anything from the extra heat and my beds were not mulched well-enough to trap the moisture and stop some drought damage and death. My fruit trees also didn't get the care they needed and I had fruit on long thin side shoots and branches breaking in strong winds.

I plan to do better this year starting with a list of jobs I need to do by the end of this month.

Vegetable beds

  • Hoe beds and check for nearby weeds.
  • Spread a layer of garden compost on beds.
  • Plant out onion, shallot and garlic sets.

Fruit

  • Cut autumn fruiting raspberries to the ground.
  • Winter prune apples and pears.
  • Apply winter wash to fruit trees.
  • Plant blackberry along back fence.

Ornamental

  • Spread a layer of mushroom compost on beds.
  • Prune fuschias to 2 buds.
  • Cut back deciduous grasses.
  • Divide herbaceous perennials.
  • Cut back buddleia, hypericum and late-flowering clematis to the ground (15cm).

Greenhouse

  • Clean the greenhouse glass.
  • Clear out last year's crops.
  • Spread layer of garden compost.
  • Tidy up seed trays and pots.

Propagator

  • Reduce to 15C once seedlings emerge.
  • Sow celery (Octavius), Peppers (Bullhorn Mix, California Wonder) Cosmos at 15C in any spare room.
  • Transplant to individual pots at 2-4 leaf stage.
  • Sow second crop of aubergine with pepper (King of the North), watermelon (Little Darling F1) and echinops sphaerocephalus at 20C.

Sow indoors

  • Radish (French Breakfast, Chinese Mantanghong) and lettuce for early crop in ground.
  • Brussels sprout (Braemar F1)
  • Leek (Below Zero F1)
  • French marigold
  • Oregano

Sow outdoors

  • Nicotiana affinis (Jasmine Tobacco)
  • Nicotiana (Lime Green)
  • Parsnip (Gladiator F1)
  • Radish (BT Brown's Summer Blend)
  • Spinach (Andromeda F1)