Tuesday, 21 February 2017

February in your garden and greenhouse.

Flowers:
Cut down deciduous ornamental grasses left standing over winter, before fresh shoots appear.
Divide large clumps of snowdrops and winter aconites after flowering and replant to start new colonies.
Prune late summer-flowering clematis, cutting stems back to healthy buds about 30cm from the base.
Divide congested clumps of herbaceous perennials and grasses to make vigorous new plants for free.
Transplant deciduous shrubs growing in the wrong place, while they are dormant.
Pot up containers with hardy spring bedding, such as primroses, wallflowers and forget-me-nots.
Prune winter-blooming shrubs, such as mahonia, winter jasmine and heathers, once they've finished flowering.
Cut back wisteria sideshoots to three buds from the base, to encourage abundant flowers in spring.
Give winter heathers a light trim after flowering, removing shoot tips but not cutting back into old wood.
Prune buddleia and elder to the base to keep these vigorous shrubs to a reasonable size.
Trim back ivy, Virginia creeper and other climbers if they have outgrown their space, before birds start nesting.
Cut away all the old foliage from epimediums with shears, before the spring flowers start to develop.
Sprinkle slow-release fertiliser around the base of roses and other flowering shrubs.

Fruit and veg:
Finish winter pruning fruit trees and soft fruits, including apples, autumn raspberries and blackcurrants.
Chit first-early potato tubers, such as 'Foremost', by standing them in trays in a light, frost-free place.
Prepare veg beds for sowing by weeding thoroughly, then cover with a thick layer of garden compost.
Feed fruit trees and bushes by sprinkling sulphate of potash fertiliser around the base to encourage fruiting.
Sow mustard and cress in a small seed tray on a warm windowsill for pickings in just a few weeks.
Put cloches or fleece over strawberry plants to start them into growth and encourage an early crop.
Hunt out overwintering snails huddled in empty pots and hidden corners, to reduce populations.
Plant rhubarb into enriched soil or lift and divide established clumps.
Check if old seed packets are worth keeping by sowing a few seeds on damp kitchen paper to see if they germinate.
Protect the blossom of outdoor peaches, nectarines and apricots with fleece if frost is forecast.
Plant bare-root fruit bushes, trees and canes, as long as the ground isn't frozen.
Inspect Mediterranean herbs for metallic-green rosemary beetles if they start to look nibbled and tatty.

Greenhouse:
Sow sweet peas in deep pots and keep them frost free in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill.
Sow summer bedding and tender annuals, including cosmos, lobelia, dahlias, nasturtiums and snapdragons.
Pot on and pinch out autumn-sown sweet peas to encourage sideshoots to form.
Sow tender crops such as tomatoes and chillies in a heated propagator or on a warm sunny windowsill.
Plant dahlia tubers in trays to encourage shoots to develop, which you can then use as cuttings.
Monitor greenhouse temperatures with a max-min thermometer to ensure heaters are working efficiently.
Start planting summer bulbs in pots indoors, including liatris, begonias, gloxinias, lilies, eucomis and agapanthus.
Cut off hippeastrum (amaryllis) flowerheads once they fade, but leave the stalk to die down naturally.
Hand-pollinate the blossom of peaches and nectarines in the greenhouse using a soft paintbrush.
Cut back overwintered fuchsias and increase the frequency of watering to spur them into growth.
Remove any faded or yellowing leaves from overwintering plants to prevent fungal diseases.
Wash greenhouse glazing inside and out to let in as much light as possible.

Garden maintenance:
Install a nest box with a camera, so you can watch birds raising their broods this spring.
If snow falls, knock it off evergreen shrubs, hedges and conifers to prevent branches snapping under the weight.
Make or buy a cold frame to use when hardening off young plants this spring.
Check fleece or other insulation is still in place around pots and borderline-tender plants.
Firm back down any plants that have been lifted by frost or loosened by wind-rock.
Make fat-ball feeders and hang them among roses to attract blue tits, which will also forage for overwintering pests.
Improve the soil by spreading garden compost or well-rotted manure over beds and forking in.
Sort out and clean up canes, plant supports and cloches, ready for use in spring.
Prune hybrid tea and floribunda roses, before growth restarts.
Clear away old plant debris from pond margins and scoop out any leaves that have fallen into the water.
Clean and service mowers and garden power tools, so they're in good order for spring.
Coppice hazel, cutting to the base, to encourage a flush of new stems that you can use for plant supports in a few years.
Spread a layer of well-rotted manure around roses and shrubs.
Remove netting placed over ponds to prevent autumn leaves falling in the water.
From: http://www.gardenersworld.com/what-to-do-now/checklist/february/

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Sowing timeline.

Undercover, sow
broad beans,
spinach,
lettuce,
peas for shoots,
onion,
salad onion,
early brassicas (cabbage, calabrese, kohlrabi, cauliflower),
radish,
parsley,
coriander,
dill.

Giving some warmth helps germination, such as heating mats: this is the most worthwhile time of plants’ lives to invest in heat, to germinate their seeds.

Assemble a heap (hotbed) of fresh horse manure, to provide heat for new sowings.
In 25C warmth sow aubergine, pepper, chilli – they must have warmth or it’s a waste of time.
Outside, the only sowings now are broad beans, and garlic if you have not already.
You can sow parsnips but seedlings may be stronger from March sowings, even April.

If you have no way of warming seeds, seeds still germinate but more slowly and sometimes unevenly.
Undercover without heat its fine to germinate lettuce, brassicas, peas, broad beans, onions, spinach.
Sowing timeline for vegetables: