Garden Notes for February.
If you have the time, it is worth warming the soil early in the season using horticultural fleece as a protective and warming barrier. In this way any seedbeds that have been protected under cloches or garden fleece can be started to be sown with hardy vegetables such as parsnips. You can also start to consider sowing some early cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Divide and replant chives towards the end of the month.
Remember to keep your garden furniture in good shape for the coming season. If you can bring them inside to dry off, and then lightly sand down items made from natural sources. Then apply a mix of equal parts turpentine and linseed oil (raw, not the cooked type). Apply at least two good coats of this mixture.
Towards the end of the month dogwoods that have the lovely wood stems in brilliant reds and yellows should be coppiced, to encourage new growth for the next winter show. Usually I am cautious and only cut about one-third to one half, but if you are brave, have a go and do the whole bush.
As the buds on the gooseberry bushes begin to swell, they will become ever more attractive to bullfinches and other birds, so give them some protection. Ideally, they should be protected by a fruit cage. Alternatively use the old trick of straining black cotton thread from branch to branch over the bushes.
If you sow sweet peas in mid-February (in a greenhouse) they will produce plants to flower later in the summer. It is worth the money to have ‘Root trainers’ (or the equivalent) with a good depth so that the roots can develop strongly before planting out later.
Purple Buddleia davidii should be pruned towards the end of the month. You will be well rewarded provided you prune quite severely, but always leave at least 3 or 4 buds for the fresh growth, in case there are late frosts.
Keep an eye out for slug and snail damage on emerging plants, as this will cause severe damage. Use appropriate control measures.
Early onion seedlings raised under glass should be pricked off into boxes, 5cm apart each way to give them the best opportunity to develop before being planted out. Towards the end of the month it is a good idea to divide and replant chives.
Restrain yourselves from watering pots and plants that you have overwintered, especially at the start of February. Overwatering is a plant killer. Towards the back end of February, when the plants start to show a little bit of growth, gradually start watering. It is better to let the plants decide on how much, so if you can, put the water in a drip tray. Avoid water from the top.