10 February marks the UN’s World Pulses Day. That’s peas and beans, folks, not heartbeats!
- Currant beds: apply bonemeal or fish meal in early spring.
- Autumn-planted Onion & Garlic beds: fertilise with 15 grams per square metre sulphate of potash. Keep watered and do not let dry out.
- Rhubarb, Artichoke & Asparagus beds: apply a generous layer of garden compost or manure around perennial crops.
- February is the time to start to force rhubarb for sweeter, earlier stems by covering crowns with straw or a forcing jar to exclude light. Garden centres sell fancy (and expensive) terracotta forcing tops, but you can use a good-sized upside down plant pot. (*Sea kale can also be forced in February, iwth shoots harvested at 6 inches. After 4 weeks uncover the plant for normal growth to resume.)
- Start warming the soil for early sowing by covering the soil. For heavy clay soils, black cloth garden felt is better than plastic as this allows the earth to ‘breathe’ and dry out.
- Apply lime to soil intended for brassica crops to reduce club root (apply 270 g per square metre).
- Apply general fertiliser like blood meal or fish fertiliser to vegetable beds, as well as tree, bush and cane fruit such as raspberries, currants, and gooseberries.
- Blueberries should be given ericaceous fertiliser.
- Now is the time to buy and plant cane fruit with bare root plantings.
- Buy seed potatoes as soon as possible and start to ‘chit’ by placing ‘eye’ up in egg boxes in a light, cool, frost-free place.
- If you have cold frames, now is be the time to plant broad beans for early harvests.
- If you have fruit trees, now is the time to spray with a plant oil-based winter wash to kill overwintering eggs of aphid. (Do not spray fruit trees when in flower!!)
Pruning to do in February:
- Prune autumn fruiting raspberries to ground level in February, cutting all canes down to ground level. These raspberries flower & fruit on growth made in the current season (primocanes) and typically have lower yields than summer-fruiting (floricanes) raspberries. To get a small early crop leave a few strong shoots unpruned. [Our yellow raspberry bush is autumn fruiting].
- If summer fruiting raspberry canes have grown beyond the top of their supports, cut these back to one or two buds above the top wire. (Or loop and tie downwards). Experience with feral birds shows that it is best to keep the canes lower, as birds try to land on taller canes and break and damage the plants.
- Complete pruning fruiting shrubs: gooseberries, red currants & black currants.
- Complete pruning apple & pear trees.
- Prune citrus trees. Thin out overcrowded branches in February, pruning back weak growth by up to two thirds.
- Plant garlic, spacing cloves 15 cm (6 inches) apart and 4 cm (1 1/2 inches) deep.
- Plant shallot sets 15-18 cm (6-7 inches) apart with tips just under the soil surface.
- Sow broad beans 5-7 cm (2-3 inches) deep, directly in the garden (or in pots of potting soil).
- This is the time to plant bare-rooted fruit trees & shrubs.
- At the end of February/early March sow tomatoes, peppers & chillies in a heated propagator or on a sunny windowsill. For crops of tomatoes outdoors, sow in March instead.
- Sow sweet peas in a propagator or sunny windowsill.
- Now is the time to plant lily bulbs in containers for an attractive display in summer.
- Pot on rooted cuttings of tender perennials taken late last summer into 9cm (3 1/2 inch) pots.
- Continue harvesting winter leaf crops (eg oriental greens, rocket, kale).
Flower / Ornamental Garden
- Finish pruning climbing & rambling roses to promote the growth of strong young flowering stems. Fertilise roses and clematis with a general fertiliser in late February.
- Deciduous shrubs, hedges, trees and climbers can be planted. (Including bare-rooted stock). Now is the time to plant new climbers like clematis & honeysuckles.
- Prune summer-flowering deciduous shrubs like Buddleja (Butterfly Bush) and Hydrangea – these flower on the current year’s growth.
- Prune winter-flowering jasmine once the flowers fade. Tie-in well-placed shoots to its support and shorten sideshoots to inches from the main stem.
- Cut back herbaceous perennials and deciduous grasses that had been left for winter interest – before new growth commences.
- Lift & divide snowdrop ‘in the green’ once they have finished flowering, to spread drifts.
- February is the time to coppice hazel to create strong straight stems that are useful as poles and supports to climbing plants. Smaller branches can be used to stake smaller herbaceous perennials.
- Crocus & primrose provide food for bumblebees roused early from hibernation.
- Ensure there’s clean water in the troughs for birds & wild things – with a stone in the middle and/or a stick to aide escape if anything falls into the water.
- From January to March amphibians emerge from overwintering and move to ponds to mate and lay eggs. Toadspawn follows a week or two later.
- February is the month to install bird & bat boxes. Put them high to deter cats.
- Avoid turning compost heaps until April to prevent disturbing hibernating frogs, small mammals and insects.