Spring Into Action; Top 10 Tips for February GardenersRachel Patey
1. Adding mulch
Add a layer of mulch to your borders. Mulching now will keep weeds down and give your plants
a much-needed nutrient boost before they start their growing season. If you don’t have your own
compost you can buy bags of farmyard manure from your local Capital Gardens garden centre.
2. Keep off wet soil
Keep off wet soils to avoid compaction. Use long boards as walkways, to spread your weight.
Buy summer flowering bulbs now whilst there is a wide choice, ready to plant in March. Feel the
bulbs before you buy: it’s just like choosing onions. They should be firm and not yield to the touch.
Bulbs covered in brown marks or mould should be avoided. Choose bulbs of a good size: the bigger
they are, the more they will flower.
4. Chitting potatoes
Start chitting potatoes from late January in warmer parts of the country or in February in cooler
areas, about six weeks before you intend to plant out the potatoes.
This involves putting the seed potatoes in a cool light place to encourage new shoots to grow. Empty
egg boxes can be good to hold the potatoes in an upright position. Once the shoots have grown to
around 2 to 3 cm then it is time to plant the potatoes in the ground. The shoots should hold up without
bending over, if they do this then get the potatoes into the ground as quick as you can.
5. Plan veg growing
Plan veg growing for the year ahead and buy seeds, onions, potatoes now to get the best choice,
Covid has meant demand has been out-stripping supply.
6.Cut back Wisteria growths
Pruning and ‘Cut back’ Wisteria growths to two or three buds in January or February to create
good flower buds for the summer.
Tidy up before the growing season starts and ensure the flowers will not be obscured by old leaves by
spreading branches evenly over a wall.
As the sap starts to rise in plants all pruning of roses, fruit trees and any required cut back of trees
and shrubs should be completed by the end of February.
7. Compost heap
Give your compost heap a ‘spring turn’ this month. Turning will aerate and stimulate the heap.
If it’s too dry, continue adding wet kitchen waste, and water it occasionally. If too wet, add more
carbon-rich stuff such as twigs, scrumpled cardboard and small amounts of paper waste, to open up
and aerate the heap. Be careful when adding kitchen waste as this can encourage unwanted visitors to
the heap and don’t use potato peelings as these can harbour plant diseases.
8. Vegetable crops
The earliest vegetable crops – such as parsnips and broad beans – can be sown this month, but
only if the soil is warm enough (5°C or more). If your soil is heavy clay and slow to warm, wait a
few weeks, as seeds sown in cold/ wet soils are unlikely to germinate.
9. General Tidy and Clean Up
It is good garden practice to clear up as many of last year’s old leaves on borders and grass and
put them in a compost heap. This will help reduce unwanted bugs sheltering amongst the debris.
Does not matter so much under large trees as they do like a covering of old decomposing leaves
A really good product to use around the garden now is Vitax Winter Tree Wash which you can use
on all deciduous shrubs. It will severely disturb over wintering bugs and importantly reduce their
numbers before spring and summer when they start to breed, meaning overall less use of chemicals.
Vitax Winter Wash is a blend of natural plant and fish oils so if used carefully , safe to use in the
10. Miscanthus, Pennisetum, Panicum
Miscanthus, Pennisetum, Panicumand other ornamental grasses left to provide winter interest in
the garden, should be cut back before new growth appears, pruning later can be tricky as you might
accidentally remove emerging shoots. You can be really brutal and prune plants close to ground
level, they’ll soon respond with lots of new growth. Secateurs or Hand shears are perfect for the job.