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February In Your Garden

1st of February 2014

This year has got off to a damp but mild start. The weeds are already growing and there will be a lot to do. If real winter weather comes, there is much we can do inside.

Fruit and vegetables
Finish pruning apples and pears as soon as possible and spray with a winter wash before the buds start to swell. Plum trees are not pruned until the summer. Peach trees must be sprayed with a fungicide before the middle of February to prevent the onset of peach leaf curl disease. Autumn fruiting raspberries should be pruned now. Finish the winter digging in the vegetable garden and cover with black polythene to help the soil warm up. Later in the month early peas, broad beans and radishes can be sown. Shallots and Jerusalem artichokes should be planted now and rhubarb. Buy seed potatoes so that they can be chitted in a light frost free place.

Shrubs and flowers
Snowdrops should be in flower and once the flowers fade the clumps should be divided and planted out. Prune buddleias and late flowering clematis but early flowering varieties such as C. montana should only be given a very light trim. Cut down ornamental grasses. There is still time to dig up and move established shrubs and also to plant bareroot hedging plants such as beech, privet, hornbeam and quickthorn. Deadhead pansies and primroses. Now is a good time to take hardwood cuttings and to pot up cuttings which rooted last year.

The Greenhouse
As long as the greenhouse is warm enough, sow antirrhinums, lobelia, begonias and other bedding plants. Tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and cucumbers should be sown together with summer cabbage, cauliflowers and leeks. Plug plants are on sale and should be potted up. Summer flowering bulbs and dahlia tubers can be potted up ready to plant out in the spring. Lupins and other perennials can be sown. Sweet peas can be sown in an unheated greenhouse but always set a mousetrap nearby because mice love to eat the seed.

Garden and lawn
Keep on top of the weeding and make compost but make sure that roots of bindweed, ground elder and creeping buttercup are destroyed and do not get on to the compost heap. Clean up the garden and repair fences. Keep off the grass if at all wet but if dry start to level out dips. Make sure that the lawnmower is serviced because the grass will need to be cut very soon. If the weather is bad the shed can be tidied up and don’t forget to feed the birds and give them water in frosty weather.

Shows and events
Butterflies are in the Glasshouse at the R.H.S. Garden at Wisley (on the A3 near Junction 10 of the M25) daily until 9 March. A visit to Wisley is a good idea as it is an opportunity to see plants which provide colour and interest in the winter. The R.H.S. London Plant and Design Show takes place at Westminster on 21 and 22 February. The R.H.S. Chelsea Flower Show is from 20 to 24 May – tickets for the first day are already sold out but tickets for other days can be obtained from or phone 0844 338 7539.
Terry Simmonds

This page is edited by Tony

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