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.
- Hoe beds and check for nearby weeds.
- Spread a layer of garden compost on beds.
- Plant out onion, shallot and garlic sets.
- Cut autumn fruiting raspberries to the ground.
- Winter prune apples and pears.
- Apply winter wash to fruit trees.
- Plant blackberry along back fence.
- 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).
- Clean the greenhouse glass.
- Clear out last year's crops.
- Spread layer of garden compost.
- Tidy up seed trays and pots.
- 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.
- Radish (French Breakfast, Chinese Mantanghong) and lettuce for early crop in ground.
- Brussels sprout (Braemar F1)
- Leek (Below Zero F1)
- French marigold
- Nicotiana affinis (Jasmine Tobacco)
- Nicotiana (Lime Green)
- Parsnip (Gladiator F1)
- Radish (BT Brown's Summer Blend)
- Spinach (Andromeda F1)