February is a fantastic month in the garden because new life suddenly begins to appear. Snowdrops, aconites, crocuses and early daffodils begin to burst into bloom creating eyecatching patches of colour.
Yet there is still work to be done! Complete the pruning of trees and shrubs, giving priority to removing any dead wood. If you have an open fire, stack large branches neatly so that they can dry out for use as kindling. Shred and add the remainder to the compost heap.
Harvest any remaining winter vegetables and begin to get the vegetable plot ready for the new season. Dig it over, removing any weeds and add fertiliser to the soil.
Check you have all the seeds you require for planting outside in the spring.
Start growing tomato and other vegetable seeds in modules. Ideal for sowing at this time are broad beans, salad onions, peas, celery and cauiliflowers.
Hardy annuals can be sown in modules. Set potato tubers to sprout.
Put grease bands on the legs of the greenhouse staging to protect seeds against vine weevils. Remember to cover the seed modules carefully – mice love digging up the newly planted seeds especially peas as they are usually desperate for food at this time of the year.
Check dahlia tubers and any stored fruit. Remove anything that is showing signs of mould or decay.
As you move around the garden, check your waterbutts to make sure they are not overflowing. If necessary, add some overflow connections to another butt to give the water somewhere to go. It is a shame to lose precious water that you will need in a few months time!
But above all, take some time just to enjoy the sight of the lovely splashes of gold and purple as the first plants of the year begin to bloom.
It might seem cold outside, but February is an ideal time for completing many garden tasks before the onset of spring growth next month.
Unless the soil is frozen or waterlogged, this is a perfect time for moving deciduous plants around the garden. Always dig and prepare the new planting spot before starting work moving the established plant. Take care not to damage any roots. Give it a good drink and plenty of fertilizer and it should settle quickly. Clumps of snowdrops can be divided immediately after flowering. Bare root plants such as roses, fruit trees and fruit bushes can still be planted in February as long as the soil is not too cold.
Winter flowering shrubs such as Mahonia and Viburnum can be pruned immediately after their pretty flowers have finished. You can also prune any winter flowering heathers when the flowers die so as to prevent the heathers becoming leggy and unshapely.
In the greenhouse, pot on rooted cuttings taken from tender perennial plants last year. This will ensure that the cuttings will be ready for planting out in the spring. Wipe down all surfaces to remove any dust and dirt. Check pots and seed trays making sure they are fully clean and ready for use. Vegetable seeds such as onions and lettuce can be sown under cover in the greenhouse or in cold frames. If you are planning to grow some early potatoes, then these should chitted now. Place the seed potatoes so that they are standing on end in a tray or egg box and put them in a light, yet cool and frost free place. The first shoots will soon start appearing, so they will be ready to plant out within a few weeks.
Attention must also be paid to the vegetable garden. Harvest any remaining root crops and dig over the soil. Cut autumn flowering raspberries to the ground so as to encourage the development of new canes. Asparagus and Artichokes should be given a good layer of well rotted manure or garden compost. Prune apple and pear trees removing any dead branches, and give them a good mulch but take care not to mound up the mulch around the trunk. Redcurrents, blackcurrents and gooseberry bushes should be pruned carefully to keep them productive.
With bright splashes of colour from aconites, snowdrops, crocuses and the first daffodils appearing this month, gardens are taking on a fresh, new appearance. The sight of so many gorgeous flowers makes gardening extra pleasurable during these last days of winter.
With so much rain having fallen over the past few months, the soil is extra soggy so take care walking on bare soil or lawns. Too much walking on wet soil can compact it, making it very hard to cultivate in a few weeks time. Try and spread your weight by using boards to stand on, and do not stand on one spot for too long. Work on areas or tasks for short periods, before moving to a different location within the garden. This does have the advantage of ensuring that muscles that you may not have used for some time over the past few months do not become strained, and are gently accustomed to physical work again.
The warmer temperatures mean that shrubs and perennials are growing faster than usual, so pruning dead branches and cutting back growth on buddleias, dogwoods and roses needs to be undertaken as soon as possible.
In the greenhouse, plant up peas, broad beans, sweetcorn and tomatoes in modules, likewise annual flower seeds such as marigolds and sweet peas. Cover them carefully with mini cloches or sheets of polythene to deter mice from digging up the seeds. The legs of greenhouse staging should be covered with grease bands to protect seeds against vine weevils. Check under pots and in corners for slugs and snails, as these will happily munch their way through the tender, emerging young seedlings
Check the contents of compost bins to ensure that mice or grass snakes have not taken up residence. Clear any compost that is ready to be used and place on the vegetable beds or garden soil. Rebuild the compost pile, making sure it is well mixed and add new materials.
Harvest any final remaining winter vegetables from the vegetable patch and start to dig over the soil ready for the new season. Add in compost and fertilizer to improve overall fertility.