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Feb

GARDENS FOR NATURE AND YOU

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If you venture into your garden now, you will see the colours of Spring in the borders. Snowdrops will be showing white buds, daffodils are pushing up bright green leaves and in sheltered spots the blue iris reticulatae will be flowering bravely against the cold weather.

 

February

Snowdrops that have become overcrowded are best thinned out and moved before they die down again. Look in sheltered spots for signs of Cyclamen Coum coming into flower. Also buds of the hellebore and other herbaceous plants will be showing at the base of the leaves. Removing old hellebore leaves will show off the flowers and make way for the new leaves.


If you have not been out in the garden since last November, February is a good month to pop out and clear up some of the old dead growth and leaves. A tidy up now can reduce chances of disease and viruses affecting plants later in the year. A sprinkling of bonemeal or general fertiliser can be lightly forked in at the same time.


When digging over a new bed or renovating an old one, incorporate a good helping of rotted manure, or garden compost. A generous dressing of organic fertiliser, eg chicken manure pellets, bonemeal or hoof and horn, can be given at the rate of 3 to 4 ounces to the square yard.


Established beds should be cleared of decaying vegetation now. After clearing, sprinkle bonemeal or hoof & horn over the surface and lightly fork in between the plants.


This month and next is ideal for taking delphinium cuttings. Choose new shoots that have grown from the base of the plant and cut off cleanly with a knife from just below the soil level. Pot up, after removing lower leaves, around the rim of a pot filled with equal parts of damp peat and silver sand. Cover with clear polythene bag, large enough not to touch the cuttings, and tuck underneath pot to seal. Place in cold frame or sunny windowsill until signs of growth, (about 4-5 weeks), then pot up singly. Plant out in early summer when large enough.


Clematis which bloom in early summer can be pruned now. But the spring flowering ones are best left until they have finished flowering.

Cuttings can also be taken from Dahlia tubers. Place the tubers in damp peat and put in a sheltered place with some warmth. When new shoots appear about 2-3” long, these can be potted up as for delphiniums.


Take the time now to repair paths, paving, walls and fencing. Paint fences now before plants have begun to grow up and restrict access later in the year.


Gravel paths and driveways which have no plants growing in them should be treated now with a proprietary weed-killer. Look for one that comes in powder form which is added to water, these have a long term effect and will keep weeds at bay for the rest of the year.


Rake out dead leaves and winter debris from the rock garden to reduce the threat of disease. However, the leaves that have died down from herbaceous rock plants should be left to protect the newly emerging buds. Remove later when the plants are growing strongly.


If you are intent on getting a head start with your vegetables this year, start them off growing in the greenhouse or under cloches or cold frames. French and broad beans may be sown individually in pots or in deep seed boxes.


Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce and leeks may be sown in frames or under cloches for transplanting later. Short-horn carrots, globe beetroot, white Lisbon onions and radishes can all be sown under frames and cloches for early pulling.


Celery and celeriac are both more successful when the seed is sown early. When large enough to handle, prick them out to two inches apart, but do not plant out until June or July.


Lettuce can be sown in boxes in the greenhouse and then transplanted outside when the soil has warmed up.