February

February Growing Tips

February can be a difficult month for working outside, but its certainly the most optimistic of the year.  So far, we have had wind, rain snow and heavy frosts, which can keep even the hardiest gardeners indoors.

But the middle of February usually means that the light increases so it’s a good time to sow seeds and do more up your plot. But it’s good to remember that St Marys has very cold winds blowing right through and lots of frost pockets, so check out you plot regularly and wait for the right conditions.

Sow under glass:
For leeks, Brussel sprouts, purple sprouting and cauliflowers, the longer the growing season the better.

  • Early greenhouse tomatoes in a warm greenhouse – three years ago I moved my tomatoes into a cold greenhouse in feb and they got frosted, so last year I put them inside a cold frame inside the greenhouse, and the greenhouse was flooded!  So, this year I’m keeping them at home until march!  Good varieties to try are Tropical, Sungold, Rosella, Bombonera, Indigo Berries, Orkado, and for blight free tomatoes outside, try Mountain Magic.  Red Alert is a fantastic bush tomato for outside, it doesn’t need side shooting and you get really early crops. 
  • Summer Cabbages – Candissa is a good choice, or if you like large cabbages try Brunswick. Earlier sown cabbages will heart up better. 
  • Brussel Sprouts Broccoli – Rudolph, cardinal, claret, red arrow all good varieties.
  • Cauliflower – Candid Charm does well for most people, and I have only really had any success with Belot.
  • Leeks – my dad grew leeks for 50 years on the same plot with no problems, but in the last few years my leeks have had leek moth damage, so this year I am going to net them with enviromesh.
  • Salads in heated greenhouse or under cloches (Lettuce, Radish, Beetroot leaves, Rocket).
  • Broad Beans – a hardy variety in pots inside if ground is too cold.
  • Peas if mild.
  • Onions – can still sow seeds but the later you leave them the smaller they will be.
  • Turnips.

Plant:

  • Artichokes.
  • Jerusalem artichokes.
  • Onion sets – better started in modules and planted out in march. 
  • Autumn sown Onions.
  • Shallots. 
  • Chives.
  • Grapevines.
  • Rhubarb.
  • Chit potatoes – there will be a delivery of potatoes at the allotment shop on Feb 17th, and the shop will be formally open on the 21st.   The quality is far and above anything you would buy from any garden centre or website, and they are far cheaper too! £1.50 per kilo.  We also sell potato fertiliser, it’s worth using because it makes a big difference to the size of your crop.

Fruit: Top dress all trees and soft fruit. Growmore, fish blood and bone (both cheaper than the pound shop) and Vitax Q4 (used by professional growers) all available from the allotment shop.  I also use my wood ash on my fruit trees and bushes, it’s a great resource and free!  Also, we sell good quality bags of manure for £4 a bag that can be used as a mulch around fruit trees.

  • Plant new fruit trees or transplant old ones.
  • Hand pollinate early Peaches + Apricots with small paintbrush.
  • Prune autumn fruiting raspberries.
  • Force Rhubarb.
  • Move some strawberries in pots to the greenhouse for an earlier crop. 

Prune:
Make sure all diseased and dead wood is cut out of all fruit trees and bushes.

  • Finish fruit trees.
  • Goosverries
  • Blackcurrants
  • Blueberries

 Pests and Diseases:

  • Move dead leaves from around vegetables as this may cause mould.
  • Spray fruit trees against pests with organic solution. 
  • Net Gooseberries – birds will eat new shoots.
  • Check for hiding slugs and hibernating snails. 

 Other jobs to do:

  • Dig runner Bean trench – fill with kitchen and green waste, cardboard, manure and compost. 
  • Finish off winter digging.
  • Turn compost heaps or start new one. 
  • Clean greenhouse – makes a big difference. 
  • Check what soil you have (ph. test). 
  • Plan your crop rotation.
  • Clean pots with Jeyes fluid or a mild detergent (fairy liquid) 

If you have forgotten to buy some seeds don’t worry, we have a good range in the shop, many of them are AGM varieties, plus lime, two types of compost, Erin and a peat free compost that got a which gardening magazine best buy.  Plus, many others items, so come and take a look, and any profit goes back into the allotments.

Finally, a quote that I heard of in all places the Superbowl, but I did think it apt that the more we learn as gardeners, the better we become.

“If you want to know the road ahead, ask the person who has been there” – Michael Glazier

References:

  • Book – Your garden week by week – AGL Hellyer
  • Book – Dig for victory – Mr Middleton
  • DVD – Geoff Hamilton – The ornamental Kitchen garden
  • DVD – The Victorian kitchen garden
  • YouTube – Geoffrey Smith
  • By appointment – The wise old allotment gardeners of St Marys