Although this is a quiet period in the garden, and sometimes described as late Winter, it can sometimes be the coldest month of the year, despite all the rain it was a very mild winter up to Christmas, we were lucky in this area that we did not suffer the dreadful storms and flooding that the unfortunate people in the North of England suffered. Treat this month as the calm before the storm , for in March you will be up to your elbows in seed trays & flower pots, so put this relatively quite period to good use to tidy up your plots & gardens, clearing away all dead plants & leaves. If you are not forcing your rhubarb, clear the crowns of dead leaves & give them a good mulch. Remove all stripped spout plants & kale, tidy up Winter brassicas clearing away all fallen leaves to ensure fungal infections like botrytis cannot effect the rest of the plant, add high nitrogen feed in the form of pelleted chicken manure, to all over wintering brassicas.
Seeds to sow: slow maturing bedding plants such as antirrhinums, quick growing perennials, such as campanulas and poppies, crops to sow; broad beans, onions & leeks can be sown in pots under glass, tomatoes can be started in heated propagators, remove all condensation from the cover each day to avoid dripping onto young seedlings & causing rot. Some seeds benefit from sowing in modules, and as such, can be sown now, such as beetroot, chard, spinach & summer cabbage. The closing date for ordering young plug bedding plants by post is often at the end of February, if you have not done so, order them as soon as possible you might be just be lucky before they are all sold, & do not forget our discount scheme for seeds and plug plants etc., the Club enjoys through Dobbies. Pot up Autumn rooted fuchsia cuttings into individual pots. Put cloches in position to warm the soil for early sowings of vegetables in March, they need to be in place a minimum of three weeks before planting. Leave cutting down of old perennials until the end of the month any flower heads still on will provide food for the birds in the lean Winter months. Prune wisteria, rose bushes and cut back hard ornamental grasses, before the new growth starts, remove all dead leaves from hellebores to make the new blooms more visible. In the fruit garden prune apples, pears, outdoor vines, red and blackcurrants and gooseberries. Leave plums, cherries and apricots for Summer pruning, as Winter pruning can encourage diseases like silver leaf.