I decided to do my usual monthly blog post a few days early, as I have something that I want to share with you next week…I hope you don’t mind too much.
When I first started to grow vegetables I really needed the information to be in one place, so I could look it up easily. However, I found I had to search for lots of little bits of information, scattered between internet sites and books. It used to take me a long time to find the information I needed.
I thought it would be useful to have this information altogether in one place. So for the benefit of the UK gardeners, I write a list of things to be done each month and any useful information I can think of.
It is worth remembering that different parts of the UK have different weather conditions e.g. the last frost is expected earlier in the south than the north. Therefore, this is a general guide.
It is said that if February starts with cloud and rain then winter is virtually over, especially if there is a westerly wind. Though it is also said that if the wind is in the east at the beginning of the month then winter will be here for some weeks to come.
February can be one of the coldest months of the year, with afternoon temperatures not rising much above freezing. Blustery winds can bring heavy snow fall too. However in a milder February, afternoon temperatures can reach 10C in the Midlands.
Vegetables and salads to harvest:
Brussels, kale, cabbages, parsnips, celeriac, leeks, cauliflowers, swedes, Jerusalem artichokes, hardy lettuces, corn salad, land cress and winter purslane, mizuna, chicory, endive and early sprouting broccoli.
Vegetables and salads to sow:
Broad beans can be sown outside if the soil is not frozen or waterlogged.
Hardy peas can be planted outside in milder areas or undercover.
Onions can be grown from seed in modules, but they must have a minimum temperature of 10C.
Early varieties of Kohl rabi, brussel sprouts and sprouting broccoli can be sown this month indoors and Globe artichokes, rhubarb, lettuce and salad leaves, leeks, radish, coriander, parsley, basil, spinach and greenhouse tomatoes and cucumbers too.
Things to plant (if the soil is not frozen or waterlogged):
Garlic can be planted outside.
Bare-rooted fruit trees and bushes can be planted.
Jerusalem artichokes can be dug up and re-planted and rhubarb sets can also be planted this month.
Shallots can be planted this month too (though I prefer to plant mine undercover in modules).
Jobs to do:
Lift your remaining Jerusalem artichokes and dig in some compost or manure. Replant them 10-15cm deep, 30-40cm apart.
Warm the soil where you will be soon planting crops e.g. broad beans or shallots, by covering with plastic or cardboard.
Continue to plant bare-rooted trees and fruit bushes.
Cut down autumn raspberries to just above ground level, as they produce fruit on new growth during the summer.
Give your compost heap a turn and water it if it is dry.
Finish digging your plot over if it is not waterlogged or frozen, incorporating compost or manure if required. If it is just a little bit wet, use a plank to stand on while you dig, to spread your weight evenly.
Don’t forget to feed the birds and top up water for them to drink.
Keep removing any yellow fallen leaves around your brassicas as these can harbor pests.
Order any seeds for the coming year and plan this year’s crop rotation.
Weed and mulch around established fruit trees.
Continue to fill your runner bean trenches with old peelings.
Check the fruit and vegetables that you have stored. Remember that one bad fruit or vegetable can destroy the whole crop if you don’t remove it quick enough.
Bullfinches love the newly forming buds, especially on gooseberries, apple, pears and plums. If you have had a problem in the past then nets are the only solution.
Continue to cover the white cauliflowers with their green leaves bent over them, to protect them from frost and light.
Finish pruning fruit trees and bushes (except cherries and plums) unless the weather has turned very cold. They will start to come out of their dormancy in March.
Buy seed potatoes and ‘chit’ them by putting them in egg boxes or trays with their ‘eyes’ facing upwards. Leave them in a cool, light room.
Check all your tree stakes and fruit supports are stable and repair if necessary while plants are dormant.
‘Force’ rhubarb by covering the crown with an upside down dustbin.
Feed fruit bushes with a high potash feed or blood, fish and bone and then mulch.
If you grow apricots, peaches or nectarines in a sheltered, south facing spot, then they may start to blossom in February. Cover them to protect them from rain and frost. You may have to hand pollinate the flowers.
February pests and diseases:
Mice and rats love to dig up and eat newly planted broad beans, early pea seeds and garlic.
Slugs can still be a problem even in February.
Pigeons are hungry and love eating brassicas so keep them netted.
Bull finches love the new buds on gooseberries, so net them early.
Check apple and pear trees for signs of canker and cut out any diseased wood.
Check for ‘big bud mite’ on blackcurrants. The buds will actually look big and swollen if affected.
I hope this information has been helpful.
Thank you for reading my blog today.