Gardening with Children

School Zone

Things to do in the garden in February

Date Posted: 01 February 2012

Here are a few things to be getting on with in the garden this month.

If you are thinking of growing fruit now is the time to get planting, have a look around for some new varieties and why not try something different or unusual.

If you have a Strawberry Bed you can get an earlier crop by covering plants with a Cloche Tunnel but when the plants start flowering remove it during the day to allow insects to pollinate them, alternatively plant up some Strawberries in containers and place in an unheated Greenhouse/Polytunnel/Cold Frame again allow access for pollinating insects. New strawberry plants should be widely available to buy now.
Prune Autumn fruiting Raspberry canes to the ground and apply a slow release fertiliser such as organic Chicken Poo, then mulch with well rotted organic matter from your Compost Bin or Farmyard Manure and keep well watered during dry periods. Plant new Raspberries Canes now they are available bare root or in containers. As the canes grow they will need to be tied in to a support to protect the canes and your crop. Ideally Raspberries should be grown in a Fruit Cage to protect the crop from birds. 
Fruit Trees
New fruit trees either bare root or container grown need to be planted now, remember to keep well watered until they become established. Apply a mulch around fruit trees and top dress or repot any grown in containers. On frosty nights protect fruit blossom from frost by covering with Fleece but remove during the day to allow insects to pollinate the flowers.
Prepare your beds
Weed, cultivate and prepare Vegetable/Seed Beds and Raised Beds by digging in lots of organic matter (Compost or well rotted Farmyard Manure) in light Sandy Soils this provides something to retain moisture and nutrients, in Clay Soils it helps break up the soil making it drain better, easier to work and prevents it from cracking in dry weather. Cover with clear polythene, fleece or cloche tunnels to warm up the soil.
Essential Onions
Garlic can be planted in the ground now, first prepare the ground by raking in a general fertiliser or Chicken Poo a week before planting. To plant make a small hole or drill and put in the bulb flat side down and backfill with soil, pushing the bulbs into the soil can damage the root plate and kill the set Garlic should be planted no later than the end of March plant the bulbs approx. 2cm below the soil surface, 10cm apart, leaving 15-20cm between rows, the tips of the sets should be level with the soil surface. Birds can be a nuisance pulling out newly planted bulbs, ideally protect with netting or cloches until they are well rooted or be extra vigilant and carefully push back any uplifted bulbs.
Order your Onion Sets and Shallots ready for planting at the end of this month they are planted in the same way as Garlic but plant the sets in rows 4in apart and 6in apart for shallots with 9in between each row.
Once you get your ‘seed’ potatoes put them into egg trays/boxes with the ‘rose’ end upwards this is where you might see tiny shoots or the ‘belly button’ end facing downwards and place them in a frost-free light (not sunny) room. This is called chitting and helps the potato to produce strong buds which speeds up growing once they are planted. When the shoots are about 2-3cm they are ready to plant either in growing bags or in the ground. Potatoes are best planted in trenches, apply a general purpose fertiliser to the bottom of the trench and cover lightly with soil, place the tuber on top with the shoots facing upwards and refill the trench. Fork in more fertiliser on the soil surface.
First Earlies
should be planted March-April, 10cm deep, 30cm apart and 45cm between rows,
Second Earlies
should be planted April-May, 10cm deep, 30cm apart and 45cm between rows,
should be planted April-May, 10cm deep, 37cm apart and 68cm between rows.
Start off tomato, sweet pepper, chilli, cucumber and aubergine seeds in your propagator now for indoor crops, if you haven’t got one I would highly recommend that you invest in one, mine is in constant use at this time of year.
If you have not already done so give your greenhouse a good spring clean and remove any winter clutter that has accumulated. Clean the glass with Verritex to remove dirt and algae and maximise the light to your plants. Disinfect pots, seed trays, capillary matting, staging and tools and check that you have everything you need for a busy gardening year. Check also that you have not got any resident mice as they will find your new seedlings very tasty. You can get an early salad crop of lettuce, rocket and radish if planted in the greenhouse or if the weather is favourable outdoors under a cloche.

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