Gardening jobs for February: All you need to know
Following a year of record weather extremes, frustrated gardeners are hoping that this spring will bring better conditions as the annual plot-taming effort begins.
Long range weather forecasts seem to be indicating a far more conventional spring and summer than we experienced last year, with March being slightly on the cool side but April onwards will follow a pattern of more customary warmth and gaps between rainy periods.
The pessimistic among us might wish to focus attention on plants and construction projects that will make the most of this warmth predicted for mid to late spring and not expend too much effort for the likely wash-out expected for the latter part of the summer, if recent years are anything to go by.
This means ensuring vegetables are planted promptly to maximise ripening time, new plant purchases should favour earlier flowering varieties, and if you are planning to build any significant structures, then getting them underway early in the year should pay dividends.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
PROJECTS TO START NOW
As long as you map-out paths and walkways in advance, you can build raised beds now to increase drainage for your vegetables & fruit. This can be done quite cheaply if you stay away from the kits and are happy to create a rustic construction of your own design. Edging is available from Valley Sawmills for just £20 for a huge bundle.
Projects providing a shelter from the rain to allow you to enjoy your outdoor space might include constructing a patio or decking under an awning or permanent gazebo. If you are looking for something more decorative, a summerhouse might be just what you're after or a wooden playhouse or treehouse for children.
GROW YOUR OWN
When deciding which vegetables to grow, it is wise to focus on the ones which are popular with the whole family and visiting diners if you don't want to find yourself forced into a solitary kohl rabi mountain-devouring exercise. Don't be afraid to try growing something a bit unusual. Is there any point investing your precious time and money on bog-standard carrots, which are freely available for a modest price at the local supermarket?
Instead, turn your attention to cultivating unusual varieties of higher quality and rare flavours to bring to the table. A useful tip is to bookmark recipes that call for unusual vegetables as a source of inspiration on what to chose for your plot.
There is plenty of groundwork to be tackled at this time of year - it is a perfect time to start improving the soil by adding well-rotted manure and good quantities of homemade compost. The beds can then be covered with sheets of plastic, cardboard or even old carpet to warm-up the soil ready for planting.
It is also a good time to get your seedlings started indoors. Don't forget labour-saving techniques like planting in guttering or toilet rolls to free up some of your time when it comes to planting out.
Bare-root fruit trees and bushes can also be planted in February providing you have a well-drained site. If the ground is still sodden, hold on for a few more weeks. Existing fruit trees can have their final winter pruning as they will start coming out of dormancy at the end of this month and fresh cuts after this period will leak sap.
Other vegetables that can be planted outdoors in sufficiently drained beds include garlic, peas (under cloches) and rhubarb. Lettuce can also be sown indoors ready for planting out under cloches in March and securing your first crops in May and June.
Other seeds you may wish to sow indoors include: leeks, peas, spinach, sprouting broccoli & tomatoes. There are lots of recommended suppliers of everything you need in our directory listings here.
This is also a good time of year to sow chilli seeds if you like a spicy edge to your cooking. I don't think you can start them too early if you want them to ripen naturally without having to resort to sealing them in boxes with ripe bananas at the end of the season to bring out their blushes.
If the ground is still too bog-like to allow you to get on without damaging the soil structure, there are many satisfying mini projects you could get on with: container gardening is a great way to bring colour to dull areas around the garden, and you need not spend a fortune on pots to get you started, many are available for just a few pounds and old shoes, watering cans, galvanised steel containers for example, can be planted-up and add real character and design beauty to the smallest of spaces.
Lawns took a severe battering in last year's torrential conditions, but most gardens might be adequately rejuvenated with a thorough going over, as illustrated beautifully in this video by Monty Don. If the situation is more serious, requiring re-seeding or returfing, consult Somergreen Turf in Bridgwater.