Early February in the garden
To find out what you should be getting up to late in February, read our Late February in the Garden guide.
Tidy and Mend
If you have cloches, give them a good wash with soapy water. Cloches are good for warming the soil in preparation for early seed sowing, they also stop the seeds from becoming waterlogged by too much rain.
Scrub and hose down patios and paths to get rid of any slippery mud or moss.
Test your soil. Check your soil with a pH test kit to find out if your soil is acidic, neutral or alkaline. You need to know this if you’re planning to plant something that needs specific soil conditions. If your soil is acidic you can make it more alkaline by adding lime. You can’t add sulphur in large enough quantities to make your soil more acid, but if you wanted to grow something that needs acidic soil, try it in a pot, where you can control the acidity more easily.
Go shopping! You need potting compost and seeds, it’s nearly spring.
Shrubs and Trees
If rabbits are a problem, place rabbit guards around young tree trunks to prevent damage.
Cut back your clematis. Any clematis that flower in late spring and early summer need a light pruning in February. Remove all overcrowded and straggly stems, cutting them as low down on the plant as you can. Tie in any stems that worked their way free from the plant support. Early spring flowerers and winter clematis varieties are happy as they are, and don’t need any attention now.
Finish pruning fruit trees and bushes and add a sprinkling of sulphate or potash around the base of their trunks.
Cut buddleias down to keep them compact, the more brutal you are (cut down about a metre off the ground) the better.
Hang fat balls or bird feeders in your fruit trees to encourage the birds to come along and gobble up any greenfly or woolly aphids that have survived the winter on your trees.
Bulbs and Tubers
Why not try planting some nerines for inside – they’ll look wonderful in the autumn. Plant them in terracotta pots with John Innes no.3 loam-based compost, don’t forget to add some grit.
Plant snowdrops ‘in the green’ and divide any larger congested clumps if you have any in the garden.
Plant delicious-scented lily bulbs in pots and in your borders. Choose the amazing taller varieties for the back of the beds like Lily Casa Blanca or asiatic Lily 'Nerone' and the shorter ones like Lily speciosum ‘Rubrum’ or Lily ‘White America’ in the pots.
Grow Your Own Flowers
You can start sowing Hardy annual seeds inside now, if you are impatient for early flowers. Sow them in your greenhouse in seed trays, gutter pipes or jiffy pellets. If you don’t have a greenhouse, use a window ledge propagator or seed tray inside and this will work well to get your seeds going. My favourites are: Ammi majus, Anethum graveolens, Calendula offinicalis ‘Indian Prince’, Cerinthe major and all the Scabious.
Grow Your Own Veg and Salad
Order your potatoes for chitting, and make sure you order veg seed now for later sowing . Sow tomatoes, aubergines and peppers in a heated propagator. Sow broad beans in to Rootrainers for planting out in 4-6 weeks time.
If you want to get going with some salad seeds, you are okay to sow Corn Salad now undercover, as well as Rainbow chard, Mizuna, Rocket, Winter Purslane and Mustard.
Sow some delicious crunchy Radishes too, and you’ll have a salad feast within 6-8 weeks. We grow all this sort of thing in gutter pipes. It is the best way, especially if you don’t have lots of room in your garden and keeps everything easy to look after and under control. Radishes can be eaten straight from the gutter – they don’t need to see any garden!
You can sow some herb seeds undercover now too – really hardy annual and biennials such as chervil, parsley and coriander.
Wash the parsley seeds in warm water the night before you want to sow them and then lay them out to dry on kitchen paper overnight. This washes off the germinator inhibitor in the seed coat and will give you a harvest in a shorter time.
There are a few perennial herbs which you could start off now too – French sorrel, chives, lovage and leaf fennel. There’s no hurry on these, but with a little bottom heat, they will germinate fine and get you ahead.
If it’s not too frosty, you can plant fruit bushes and trees now too.
What you could be picking and eating this time next year, or - if you’re an old hand - already are .
- Brussels sprouts, red and green cabbages, cauliflower and kale and purple sprouting broccoli.
- Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips and salsify
- Leeks and cardoons
- Chard and perpetual spinach
- Salad- chicory, endive, lettuces, hardy lettuces, mizuna, salad rocket and mustards
- Herbs – parsley, chervil, coriander, winter savory, rosemary, sage and bay
Harvesting Flowers – Lovely things to pick and arrange from your garden in January
- Bulbs: Crocus, snowdrops, aconites
- Perennials: Hellebores, artichoke leaves, Euphorbia characias in bud
- Shrubs and trees: Hamamelis, sarcoccoca, pussy willow, hazel and alder catkins, scented daphnes, winter-flowering honeysuckles and viburnums
Wildlife in the Garden
The birds have been having a hard time, so make sure you fill your bird feeders and try and remember to defrost the birdbath.
P.S. Evergreen herbs are the stalwarts of winter cooking see my recipe for delicious rosemary flat bread.