As the days lengthen, spring bulbs start to emerge, and the sun feels a little warmer, many gardeners will want to get a head start in the garden. But in the garden in February a warm spell can be followed by freezing weather or flood, which will wreck early sowings and plantings.
This month’s garden jobs are mostly about preparing your garden for spring. Spending time trimming any remaining dead growth, clipping back and general preparation for the new growing season. There are, however, some early sowing and tasks that you can safely do if you can’t wait!
• Spend time planning what you are going to grow and where you are going to grow it.
• Prepare vegetable beds by weeding, removing old growth, and adding compost.
• Parsnips and broad beans can be sown, but only if the soil temperature is over 5°C.
• Start chitting early potatoes.
• Prune raspberry canes – cut autumn-fruiting raspberry canes to the ground and cut the summer-fruiting raspberry back to the top of their supports (cut just above a bud).
• Prune blackcurrant bushes, gooseberries and redcurrants to create a framework.
• Winter prune apple and pear trees if they are still dormant.
• Protect early blossom from overnight frost with hessian or fleece.
• Start sowing hardy annual flower seeds. Seed trays and pots must be clean, potting compost fresh, and watering should be from below and kept to a minimum.
• Protect any tender plants from frosts.
• Prune wisteria, cutting back side-shoots to 2 or 3 buds.
• Cut back ornamental grasses before growth begins to within a few centimetres of the ground.
• Remove faded flowers from winter pansies.
• If you want to create more snowdrop clumps lift and divide them when they are still ‘in the green’.
• Keep off the grass in frosty or snowy weather as the blades can be easily damaged.
• If your lawn has puddles, spike the area with a garden fork to a depth of 6 to 7 inches.
Other Jobs in the Garden
• Put up nesting boxes to encourage birds into your garden. Once the eggs hatch, the parent birds will take hundreds of caterpillars and bugs to feed their chicks.
• Trim deciduous hedges back before the birds start nesting.
• Wash empty pots by scrubbing them with hot water and a mild detergent. Make sure you rinse them well afterwards.
• Install water butts on your downpipes.
Enjoy your garden in February!