February is the month to catch your breath, while you can, and carry on planning the vegetable patch, and doing a little seed sowing and preparation, before the serious business of growing vegetables in spring begins.
Firstly I’d finish planning what you’re going to grow and where to plant it. Make a plan that uses rotatation so that vegetables aren’t grown in the same place as last year, this makes for much healthier plants simply by planting them in the right space.
Encourage seed potatoes to start growing shoots by putting them in a seed-tray or egg-box, leave them in a cool, light room. Some people don’t bother with this stage, but you get more choice of varieties if you buy them now, and if you’ve got them you might as well start them off.
Check over the bed where potatoes were grown last year and take out any little ones that were left behind, they may harbour blight, which is pretty devastating for poatato and tomato crops.
I know I’m always going on about this, but keep improving the soil to make it as nourishing and welcoming as possible, having good soil is the most important part of growing vegetables:
Spread well-rotted manure on bare soil, especially where leafy, green vegetables and beans will be planted.
Don’t bother putting it where you’ll be planting potatoes, they better growing on soil that was improved this way the previous season.
If you havn’t got enough well-rotted manure or home-made compost for the whole plot, and most of us don’t, order green manure seeds ready to plant next month. They’ll grow in a few weeks and resulting little plants are dug back into the soil to improve its’ structure and add nutrients.
Seeds hate being planted in cold, wet soil,they often rot in these conditions, cover bare soil with fleece or polythene to warm it up ready for planting.
These can be planted this month:
Plant broad beans straight into the soil round about the middle of the month, if it’s not frosty.
Put a tunnel in place now to warm up the soil ready to plant early varieties of peas after the middle of the month, but delay planting if the soil is frozen or very wet.
Plant garlic 5cm deep and 20cm apart, ideally it should have been planted last autumn… I know, me neither, but it’ll be fine, especially if there is a cold snap to shock it into life.
Plant shallots 14-20cm apart just so the tips stick out above the soil, I think these are worth growing because you can get all manner of different types that aren’t available in the shops.
Happy gardening, Jill
all photos: Jill Anderson.