Now is a great time to plan for the coming gardening year
As the days lengthen the garden starts to grow. Now is a great time to plan for the coming gardening year and to order seeds and plants. Enjoy the fresh air, on dry sunny days, and check your winter protection, stakes, ties and supports are still working after any severe weather. Also put out food for birds and leave some garden areas uncut, a little longer, to provide shelter for wildlife in your garden.
This month there are signs of the approaching spring, with bulbs appearing and wildlife waking up as light levels and temperatures increase. There’s plenty to do indoors this month to prepare for the season ahead. Outdoors, as the garden comes to life again, it’s time to prune shrubs and climbers, such as Wisteria as well as evergreen hedges.
Our top tips for February
Stay on top of your garden with our tips
Growing vegetables from seed can be satisfying. However, it is important to plan ahead so that you don’t find that your hard work produces gluts and shortages. Knowing which vegetables to sow where, when and how means you can maintain constant supplies throughout the season.
Potatoes are generally grown from tubers known as ‘seed potatoes’. These are sprouted or ‘chitted’ prior to planting, particularly when growing early season cultivars. Chitting or sprouting tubers extends the growing period and leads to earlier tuber formation and higher yields.
Most top fruit and soft fruit are very hardy but once they start into growth in spring, flowers and buds are especially vulnerable to frost and may need protection to crop well.
Pigeons attack a wide range of plants but seem particularly keen on the leaves of brassicas (such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages and cauliflower), cherries, lilac and peas. They will peck at the leaves and rip off portions, often leaving just the stalks and larger leaf veins. They may also attack and strip buds, leaves and fruits from blackcurrants and other fruit bushes.
Deciduous shrubs that flower in late winter, spring and early summer need annual pruning to encourage strong, healthy shoots and improve flowering. Annual pruning also prolongs the life of these early-flowering shrubs.
Some bulbs naturally produce offsets (baby bulbs) next to the parent bulb. Offsets can be removed when bulbs are lifted for storage. They will be identical in type to the parent bulb, making offsets a suitable method of propagation for cultivars as well as species bulbs.
Once established, most evergreen shrubs are fairly low maintenance and need little or no regular pruning. Pruning, when required, is generally carried out in mid to late spring.
Wisteria needs regular pruning to keep the growth and size under control, but it will also improve the flowering display. Although it seems complicated, wisteria pruning is quite simple.
Vibrantly coloured bracts of Bougainvillea brighten warm greenhouses and conservatory borders during the summer. These tropical climbers are suitable for large containers placed in the garden during summer but must be kept frost-free in winter.
Ornamental grasses fall into two main groups, evergreen and deciduous. Deciduous grasses need cutting back annually so that they will look their best. Evergreens just require a tidy-up.