Things to do on the plot February
Written by Behemoth
February 2nd is one of the great 'cross-quarter' days, which make up the wheel of the year. It falls midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox and in many traditions is considered the beginning of spring.
Outside - General Tasks
Late February is a good time to start digging over your plot and
incorporating any organic mulch that was spread on it over the winter.
Don’t do this if it’s too wet. As a rule of thumb, wait until the soil
doesn’t stick to your boots.
Repair raised beds, compost bins, sheds, paths, posts etc. now while you've got time and they're not covered with new growth.
Warm up the soil by covering prepared areas with polythene, plastic
cloches or fleece. Make sure you do this on a sunny day and don’t trap
a frost under the covering.
If you’ve still got root crops like parsnips or carrots in the soil
they may start to regrow. To keep them in good condition, work your way
along the row loosening the roots with a fork. The idea is to break the
tap root but not to actually dig them up. This should give them another
month or so.
Force Rhubarb: cover the crown with straw or shredded paper and cover with a bucket. Weigh the bucket down with a brick.
Spring clean the plot and any beds of over wintering vegetables.
Feed spring cabbage.
Weed around garlic, runner beans late leeks etc.
Outside - Sowings
Not strictly the best time for outdoor sowings yet.
Chit your seed potatoes in a cool, light, frost-free place.
Sow broad beans and hardy peas (such as Feltham First and Meteor)
in root trainers or individual pots. For the peas you could use the
‘guttering’ method if you’ve got the space.
Dont! Hold back until March, unless you live in the South of England where you may be able to risk it ... or in France.
As usual, things are more exciting at this time of year under the
covers but it depends if you are hot or not. If you have a heated
greenhouse or propagator that can accommodate large plants then early
sowings should not cause you problems.
If you don’t, then you might have to be ingenious, organised and
patient. You can germinate seeds in the house in a warm place but you
need to maintain optimum temperatures while the young plants grow. You
can use a sunny window ledge but the temperature variations and limited
light can lead to leggy seedlings. To get round this put them in an
unheated cold frame or greenhouse on sunny days and bring them in
before the temperature drops. Do this and you can grow good plants from
early sowings without any special equipment. If this is too much hassle
or you forget to bring them in, wait a few weeks or even buy plants
from the garden centre.
For fruits that are not bitter choose all female varieties
(Flamingo and Cumlaude) or try Burpless Tasty Green. Sow one seed per
pot, placing the seed on its side covered with about half an inch of
compost. Keep at 20C (68F) to ensure rapid germination. Two or three
plants should provide plenty for the average household.
Sow seeds in trays, just covered with compost. Keep at 20C (68F).
They should germinate in a few days. Cherry varieties produce the
earliest crops. Medium to large tomatoes take a bit longer and may be
susceptible to blight. Large or beefsteak tomatoes need a long growing
season and plenty of sunshine, making them better suited to Southern
England, though you never know.
Sow by the end of the month and keep the temperature between
20C-24C (68F-75F). They can be slow to germinate, up to three weeks.
They also need a long growing season.
Choose an early variety, germination as peppers.
Beetroot and Celeriac
Can be sown under cover without additional heat. These are destined
for outdoors and will transplant with a little care. or if you don't
want to risk it wait until you can sow direct outside.
Spring and Summer lettuces do well if sown undercover now, as will
radishes. Sow winter lettuces such as Arctic King and Marvel of Four
Seasons thinly in trays or modules, for planting out under cloches in
mid to late March.
A row or two sown now will grow rapidly and provide tender young leaves as the tatty winter ones finish.
Divide Chives, Sage, and Thyme and cut back excess growth.
Lift some mature rhubarb crowns, split and replant; mulch of compost over rhubarb crowns.
Last chance to plant new trees, bushes and raspberry canes.
Apply a high potash fertiliser and perhaps a mulch (especially if trained as cordons, fans etc) under medium sized fruit trees.
Check stored fruit for damage/rotting.
Protect any blossoms from frost if you can.
Untie and retrain any fruit canes that were bundled up in the autumn.
Prune apples, pears and bush fruits.
Cut out cankers while pruning and treat properly.
I’m sure that this isn’t a definitive list of what you can do on
the plot and undercover at this time of year. If you have any hints,
tips, suggestions or comments please click here to go to the
“Grow your Own” section. Why not have a look at the other topics while