by Andy Cawthray, 1st February 2021
Look carefully and you'll see that all kinds of species of flower are blooming. Do we dare use the 's' word?
With snowdrops and other bulbs now in flower, February comes as a reminder that spring is near, and the warmer spells that now appear occasionally allow the gardener to get outdoors and start preparing for the season ahead.
Must-do tasks this month include sowing under glass any slow-maturing bedding plants such as lobelia, petunias and antirrhinums. Fast-growing perennials that you want to flower this year also need to be sown and kept under glass.
Prune any half hardy fuchsias that you may have undercover as soon as the pink ‘eyes’ (embryo shoots) start to appear. Tomato seeds also need to be sown ready for growing on in cool greenhouses.
Outside, keep on top of any leaves or debris that may have accumulated over the winter, but don’t clear it all away, allow space for wildlife to shelter and forage. And put cloches out on the vegetable bed to start warming the soil for early sowings next month.
Tip of the Month
To get a head start with herbs, sow parsley seeds in trays this month and keep them indoors at room temperature to speed up germination.
Q: I would like to grow some early potatoes this year. Do you have any tips on how best to go about it?
A: If you wish to grow first earlies then buy the tubers as soon as possible this month. You’ll need to buy around 7lb of tubers for 50ft of potatoes (or, as in my case, five rows of 10ft). Collect up some egg boxes and then sit the tubers in the egg slots with the eyes (embryonic shoots) pointing up. Put the boxes in a light, frost-proof shed. This will encourage the tubers to sprout, ready for planting out later next month.