WHAT SHOULD YOU BE DOING LATE FEBRUARY?
- Prune summer-flowering clematis, cutting above a low pair of green buds.
- Be on the lookout for slugs and snails, which will attack emerging shoots of perennials. Apply slug pellets around emerging spring bulbs.
- Carry on sowing seeds in pots or trays in the greenhouse, ready to transplant later, including Brussels sprouts, spring cabbage, and onions.
- Now is the perfect time to plant new raspberry canes and blackberry plants.
- Very important to sprinkle a handful of sulphate of potash fertiliser around the base of fruit trees and bushes now.
- Empty your greenhouse and thoroughly clean inside with Armillatox.
- Monitor temperatures with a max-min thermometer to ensure heaters are working efficiently in your greenhouse.
- Spread a layer of manure around roses and shrubs.
- Plant whitethorn before it comes into bud.
- Prepare vegetable seed beds by removing all weeds and forking in plenty of compost. Cover prepared soil with sheets of black plastic to keep it drier and warmer in preparation for spring planting. If you garden on heavy clay soil but want to make an early start in the garden, build raised beds before the growing season gets under way. The soil will warm up faster and raised beds drain quickly too.
- Plant Lilies and Allium bulbs
A brief explanation of soil fertility and crop rotation is in order before we get into the serious business of sowing seeds and plants. One of the mistakes I come across quite a lot is from customers who are starting a new plot and they are surprised by the fact that virgin soil can be quite low in nutrient and fertility in the soil will be improved and built up slowly over the five years. On year one when preparing the planting area dig in lots of well-rotted farmyard manure or homemade compost (the sludge behind the hedge from last year’s lawn clippings is not compost) making good compost is for another day. Ideally, the farmyard manure should be dug in during the winter months to give the worms time to do their work except for potatoes where the farmyard manure can be put in the ridge and the seed potatoes placed on top at sowing time. Remember some vegetables like carrots and onions do not like farmyard manure although they can be sown next season in soil that has been fed with farmyard manure this season. This leads me onto crop rotation. Put simply it means not planting the same crop in the same part of the garden every year to do so will encourage pests and disease and deplete the soil of some nutrients. Different plants use different nutrients so changing them around keeps the garden in balance. If you want to be 100% compliant your garden should be divided into three areas. Year one in area 1, plant vegetables with roots i.e. carrots, parsnips, potatoes and beetroot. Area 2 plant your brassicas i.e. cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, broccoli and turnips. For successful growing of the above, lime in the soil is important. Use horticultural lime not building lime. Area 3, plant all the others i.e. beans, peas, lettuce, onions and spinach etc. In year two alternate i.e. plants that were in area 1, move to area 2 and so on. If this is all too complicated make two divisions, in area 1 plant root crops, area 2 plant leafy crops and alternate. All areas should be given a general purpose fertilizer (as we discussed last week) about two weeks before sowing. It can be traditional or organic, the choice is yours but if you don’t feed you won’t have a bountiful harvest.