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Your Garden In February

2nd of February 2004

Although its winter now, spring is almost upon us and there is much to be done. Before the middle of February, fruit trees should be pruned and then sprayed with Mortegg Winter Wash as long as you still have some: unfortunately this product is no longer made and the winter washes now available are less effective. Peach trees are subject to Peach Leaf Curl which can be prevented by spraying before mid-February with either Copper Fungicide or Dithane. Farmyard manure should be dug into the vegetable garden for all crops, with the exception of root crops such as carrots and parsnips, and the ground should be left rough dug until the spring. Choose early varieties of potato if they are to be grown as new potatoes, and main crop varieties if they are for chips, jacket or mashed potatoes. Seeds cannot be sown outdoors yet, but if you have a glasshouse or conservatory some varieties can be raised in pots and seed trays now; most seed packets have very detailed information as to sowing times etc. Many folk these days use plug plants as a simpler alternative to seed, and these will soon be on sale in the garden centre. Summer-flowering bulbs will also be available now for planting in the spring, although many of the lilies can be planted straight away as long as the ground is not frozen solid. Lawn mowers were not used much last summer so it is important to get them serviced so that they are ready for use in the spring, because the grass is already growing. February and March are a good time to plant out trees, shrubs, soft fruit bushes and particularly bare-root hedging plants. Always pop in a sprinkling of bonemeal when planting any permanent plants. Make sure trees are well staked to prevent them rocking in the wind. There are many interesting winter flowering shrubs which may be seen in the garden centre. Have a look at the witch hazel (Hamamelis), Mahonia, Forsythia, Winter Jasmine, Skimmia rubella and the fragrant Viburnums. Then there are the helebores, winter heathers, primroses and pansies and the early bulbs such as winter aconites and snowdrops. The Chelsea Flower Show is just over 3 months away and tickets for the first day will soon be sold out: if you wish to go, tickets can be obtained by ringing 0870 906 3781.

Terry Simmonds

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