WHAT TO DO IN FEBURARY

Growing from seed is a simple and economical way of raising new plants for your garden. While many plants are hardy enough to grow outdoors, they'll benefit from being sown indoors to give them a head start. Sowing indoors is also useful for extending the growing season of tender bedding plants and vegetables. If you’re starting out, get your hands on a simple windowsill propagator as they are designed to sit neatly on your window ledge.

  • Sprinkle sulphate of potash fertiliser around fruit bushes.
  • Apply slug pellets around emerging spring bulbs.
  • Continue to tidy beds and borders, then mulch with compost, well-rotted manure or bark.
  • This is the latest time to spray fruit trees with a winter wash as the buds will soon be emerging.
  • Prune gooseberry bushes to open up the centre and apply a winter wash of Armillatox.
  • Chit seed potatoes in trays in a bright, frost-free position.
  • Cut back old stems of Mallow (Lavatera) to ground level, taking care not to harm new shoots.
  • Sow seed of broad beans, carrots, hardy peas and parsnips outside in soil warmed by cloches.
  • Prevent seedlings being affected by damping-off disease by watering compost with a solution of chestnut compound.
  • Finish pruning fruit trees and soft fruits.

The humble spud should actually be called the splendid spud as it’s one of the most balanced foods we can eat rivalling any other vegetable for its range of shapes, sizes and flavours. It will soon be time to plant potatoes, some varieties mature quickly we know them as earlies. These are traditionally planted on or around Saint Patrick’s Day with the main crop varieties being planted end of March/ April. When choosing the variety you intend to grow there are a number of considerations. Varieties like Desiree will thrive in a heavy clay or even poor soil whereas Golden Wonders prefer rich sandy soil, so your choice for your type of garden soil will be the key to your success. Having sorted the practicalities of potato growing you then must decide if you like a floury or waxy potato. Also, consider how you generally cook them, do you bake, roast, boil or chip them. Each variety has its advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to potatoes everybody has their preferences, but I recommend the following; Juliette; a lovely salad potato, Majestic; a great all-rounder thrives in any soil, Rocket; for early growing under cover, Colleen; which is of Irish origin is one of tastiest early varieties, Pentland Javelin; grown for its excellent flavour and for something different try Blue Danube; if you like a dry floury potato this is the one for you. With the added bonus of being blight resistant. Blight is about, the biggest problem with potatoes, but you can now choose varieties that are blight resistant. The one our customers keep looking for is Sarpo Axona, for flavour, yield and ease of growing it’s the one to grow. First earlies will be planted mid-march, but you can start the growing process now by chitting, this means putting your potatoes in flat trays with the most pointed side facing upwards in a bright frost free area. After about three weeks the sprouts will be an inch long, taking care not to break off your sprouts you can now plant them as normal in soil that has been enriched with a good layer of farmyard manure (now available in an easy to use pellet form). By mid-June, you should be enjoying your first crop.  Here’s an easy harvesting guide;

First earlies should mature in 10-12 weeks, Second earlies mature in 14-16 weeks; Maincrops take 16-22 weeks.

February