We get glimpses of early signs of spring this month. The soil begins to warm up around the middle of February and we see, for the first time this year, buds beginning to swell on fruit trees and bushes. Over wintering vegetables begin to look less sorry for themselves, and start to produce new growth.
Sowing and planting
After the middle of the month it is safe to think about sowing the seeds of early vegetables under cloches. Prepare the seed bed, warm up the soil under cloches or horticultural fleece (if soil temperature is much less than 10 C seeds will not germinate). Sow white lisbon spring onion, or the early Nantes 2 carrot variety. Early types of lettuce can also be started, try ‘cut and come again’ varieties to save on time waiting for a heart to form. It may be too early to make start on parsnips in colder areas of the country but if you really want large roots now is the time to sow parsnip seed, be careful to use a canker resistant cultivar.
February is the best month to plant out garlic and shallots. Prepare the ground as you would a seed bed and plant using a trowel. Don’t push the bulbs into the soil. Plant the garlic cloves about 2in/5cm deep and leave the tips of the shallot bulbs just at soil surface. The birds will pull one or two out leaving them lying on ground. Replant them as soom as possible – the birds will quickly lose interest.
Check over chitting seed potatoes and begin to rub off unwanted eyes leaving three or four well-spaced shoots. Keep some fleece or newspaper nearby to cover them up on cold, frosty nights. You don’t want to run the risk of losing them at this late date.
Top dress fruit trees and soft fruit bushes with general fertiliser at the recommended application rate. At the same time top dress the rest of the plot with general fertiliser as land becomes available.
Check over fruit trees and bushes for damage and disease problems and take appropriate action.
Prune late/autumn fruiting raspberries down as low as possible and mulch around them. Tip back summer fruiting back around 6ft/1.9mts to encourage the development of fruiting side growths.