Monthly Archives: February 2016

All systems go!

With milder weather forecast for the next few days I decided to get started and sow my long and stump carrots. Earlier than I would sow normally as they’re for the New Forest Show at the end of July.

And there’s added interest this year as the long carrots are my own re-selected seed strain from a set of 3 carrots I put to seed two years ago.

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The seeds in the photo are just from the central seed head of one the carrots.  There’s 100s, enough to keep me going for years.

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I followed the same approach as last year coring out 16 holes in the sand box, filling with the compost mix and sowing 5 seeds in each one.

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Then covered with fleece and clear polythene to keep them all wrapped up until the seeds germinate.  The other box is for parsnips sown 3 weeks ago which should be coming through soon hopefully.  They normally germinate in 3-4 weeks taking much longer than the carrots.

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The stump carrots were sown in one of the new beds I put together last Autumn.  It’s a 6 foot by 2 foot bed filled with grit sand – half way along the bed I’ve run some threaded bar across to stop them bowing with the weight of the sand.  In this sized bed I can get 27 stations in.  Each one is cored out to 16 inches deep and the variety I’m sowing is Sweet Candle.  I’ve struggled to get decent short carrots before and I’m hoping this approach will prove successful.  As with the longs the bed is covered with fleece and polythene.  I have a small mesh tunnel to put over the bed once the polythene comes off to keep the carrot fly at bay.

So it’s all systems go on the plot and hopefully a few days of milder weather will see the carrots germinate in the next couple of weeks.  From now on it starts to get busy with sowing starting with tomatoes / chillies etc.  The potatoes are chitting indoors on south facing windowsills and will be started off towards the end of March.  Lots to do!!

 

February jobs

Hoping the weather will dry up a bit so I can get some of these jobs done!  So far the competition parsnips have been sown and the mixes for my long and stump carrots have been prepared.  I’m hoping to sow the carrots in the next couple of weeks………

February is a time of preparation in the garden with an expectation of things to come. Early spring bulbs are coming through but, as we saw last year, the weather can bite hard and put back any of our best laid plans……….

So the list of February jobs is dependant on weather conditions and if your soil is workable. If you have use of a heated greenhouse or space on indoor windowsills then sowing can be started. But even if you just do some tidying up in the garden it’s time well spent before Spring starts.

Under Cover

• Sow Autumn leeks thinly in a tray of compost and cover lightly and keep moist.

•If you didn’t start sweet peas in Autumn sow in toilet roll inners now.  You can use the same method for broad beans if weather is too harsh to sow direct on the plot.

• For early potatoes start off varieties such as ‘Swift’ in large tubs of compost in a heated greenhouse.

• Start sowing early brassicas such as cauliflower and summer cabbage.

• Towards the end of the month sow tomatoes, chillies and peppers.  These need a long growing season to fully ripen so need to be started early in a heated space.

• Sow peas.  A good method is to sow in a length of guttering that can be easily transferred to the veg plot later to avoid handling the young plants.

• Plant garlic cloves in pots if not already done.

• Sow hardier herbs such as Parsley.  Rocket and certain varieties of lettuce can be sown towards the end of the month.

• Sow slower growing half-hardy annuals and perrenials such as Pelargonium and Begonia.

• Chit seed potatoes.  Stand in egg trays.

On the Plot

• Continue to tidy and dig the plot if soil is workable.  Well rotted manure and compost can be added if not already done.

• Hand weed around any Autumn sown crops such as Japanese Onion sets and Broad Beans.

• Jerusalem Artichoke tubers can be planted out.  If harvesting and re-planting be careful to dig out every bit of tuber.

• Keep filling runner bean trench with kitchen waste.

• Use cloches to warm the soil ahead of spring sowing.

• Prune fruit trees and canes.  Sprinkle a handful of potash fertiliser around fruit trees.  If you have bought any bare-root  trees get them in now.  Cut stems of Autumn-fruiting raspberries to soil level.

• Force established Rhubarb crowns by covering with a forcing pot or bucket.

• Draw up a plan of your plot so you know where each group of vegetables will go and have a record for future years to ensure good rotation.

• Clean the greenhouse, any frames, pots and trays.  Jeyes fluid is good for the inside of your greenhouse killing off anything nasty that is lurking to attack your spring plants.  Warm soapy water is a good start for pots and trays.

In the Garden

• Plant new Rose bushes.  But don’t prune existing ones until next month as harsh frosts can burn new cuts.

• Prune grapevines, Wisteria, summer-flowering Clematis, and Buddleia.  Deadhead Hydrangea flowers.

• Mulch around emerging spring bulbs.  Bring pots of spring bulbs into the greenhouse as required.

• Divide herbaceous perrenials that have become congested.

• Cut back last year’s dead material from perrenials as close to the base as possible before new growth starts.

• Clear weeds as they emerge.

• Scarify and spike lawn if required.  Clear any remaining leaves.

• Clear leaves from pond and check and clean pump.

Help Wildlife

• Put as much waste material from the garden on the compost heap as possible (rather than burning) to allow sheltering insects to escape as the weather warms.

• Continue to feed garden birds and provide a water source.

• Put up nesting boxes for birds.

Buy

• Check through stocks of compost, fertilisers, pots etc and buy whatever is needed for spring sowing ahead of time.  If you’re looking for a peat-free compost the brand ‘New Horizon’ has been recommended in recent Which magazine trials.

Harvest

Winter vegetables such as Leeks, Brussel Sprouts, Kale and Parsnips can continue to be harvested when the ground is not frozen.  If harsh weather threatens root vegetables can be stored and kept fresh in a box of damp sand.

If you have any suggestions for February jobs please add them to the comments on this post.