What to do in your garden in February?
This time of year we begin to see the end of winter and we start to see the signs of spring. Days seem to be getting longer and it isn’t so bitterly cold anymore, giving you a great opportunity to get in your garden and start preparing for the coming season.
If you’re planning on growing vegetables from seeds, now is a great time to begin prepare vegetable seed beds. When choosing a location for your seed bed, consider an area that will allow for good drainage, as waterlogged soil can damage seedlings. Your seed bed should also be in an area with plenty of light to allow your seedlings to stay strong and healthy. If you have any pets or cats that may visit your garden it is a good idea to put protective netting around your seed beds. Try to make sure your seed beds are clear of weeds as they will soak up essential nutrients needed by your seedlings. Seeds do much better when the soil is thinner, similar to that of a breadcrumb texture rather than in big clumps. Remove stones and debris and rake until soil appears more thinned out. Soil can be covered with sheets of black plastic which will keep the seeds beds drier and warmer in preparation for spring.
Vegetable seeds such as celeriac, leeks and onions can be sown now, if under cover. Fruit plants that blossom should be protected from frost and cold using fleecing.
Lilies grow well in containers, and can be forced into flowering if grown indoors. When the weather becomes milder they can be moved outdoors.
Chitting Potato Tubers
Once you’ve purchased you’re seed potatoes, have a good look at them to find the side of the potatoes with most eyes on (each eye should produce a shoot), then place them in trays with the most eyes facing up. The trays should be stored out of direct sunlight, in a cool dry and frost free spot. As shoots begin to grow from the eyes, keep a check and rub away any weak looking thin shoots. When shoots are around 2cms long they can be planted. Never plant regular shop bought potatoes as this can spread disease.
A variety of seed potatoes are now available in store at Grimsby Garden Centre, if you need any advice on potato seeds or which variety is good for you, get in touch or pop in store and a member of staff will be happy to help you.
Pruning and cutting back
Shrubs that flower in winter and have now finished flowering need pruning, such as mahonia. Remove and diseased or damaged shoots down to ground level and cut back any weak looking shoots so that the nutrients of the plant focuses on the strong areas that will produce the most growth.
Any ornamental grasses can now be trimmed down before new growth begins to promote healthy growth.
To promote better flowering and keep the size under control, wisterias need to be pruned twice a year, usually July or August and again in January or February. Now is a good time to prune when the plant is leafless and before the season starts. When pruning, generally the idea is to remove dead, dying or damaged growth.
Pansies can carry on flowering into the spring and early summer if they are regularly kept check of and deadheaded.
It can be useful to tie climbing plants to their supports such as trellises to help them to stay sturdier in the wind.
If the soil is mostly dry, turf can be laid now. It is often best to lay turf when you don’t plan to be out in your garden as it needs to be left undisturbed and not walked on to allow new roots to establish in the soil.
Using a wire rake, continue to brush out worm casts which are often seen at this time of year.
You may need to begin mowing your lawn if the weather has been mild. You should only mow when the lawn is dry and the cutting height of your mower should be at its maximum.
Generally houseplants will not do well on windowsills during very cold periods. Houseplants should not be watered often at this time of year as plants are not actively growing until spring time.
Cacti should not be fed and watered very little during their dormant period up until March.
Keep a check on tubers of plants that you have in store such as dahlias, if they become too dry they will wither, or too moist and they will rot, so they want to be a happy medium.
Lighter soils can be mulched now, to help prevent weeds and the soil to contain its moisture during the drier months. Investing in a soil testing kit, if you don’t already know what type of soil you have can help you to decide what plants will thrive in your garden.
Check whether containers that have been sheltered are dry, if there are dry to the touch the will need watering. Try not to overwater your containers, they should feel damp but not wet.
Now is a good time to protect hosta, lily and delphinium shoots from slugs and snails before they come out.
Patios and pathways will become slippery and dangerous to walk on if there is algae growing on them. This can be dealt with using a hard brush and a knife along the cracks.
Top up bird feeders and hang fat balls in your garden to give birds a helping hand in the cold weather, in return they eat many of the pesky pests in your garden.
Think about stocking up on twine, ties and stakes next time you pop into the garden centre, for the season ahead.
Ensure that pots are raised up from any patios to avoid waterlogging and that pots are not sat in saucers. There are container feet for this purpose, or standing your pots on bricks will work just as well. The most common cause for loss of plants in containers is overwatering, so compost should eb kept at a happy medium between damp and dry.
For more information or advice on your garden, get in touch or pop in to Grimsby Garden Centre and a member of our expert staff will be more than happy to help.