There is always plenty of jobs to do even in the smallest vegetable garden as there is no denying that growing fruit and vegetables is high maintenance. So, with more to do there is always more to forget. Plan ahead by getting on top of those jobs that can be done early in the year. Here is a short list of vital jobs to be doing in the vegetable garden during February.
One of the easiest vegetables to grow is the potato and February is the time to chit seed potatoes. Chitting is the term used to describe allowing the seed potatoes to grow shoots before they are planted in the ground. Place your seed potatoes blunt end up in trays or old egg boxes in a bright and airy spot. The potatoes should be ready to plant out when the shoots are 1-2cm long, in around six weeks.
February is the time to plant out shallots in well-prepared beds. Other vegetable seeds that can be planted out at this time are carrots, broad beans, hardy peas and parsnips. Give them a head start by covering the soil bed with fleece or cloches first to warm up the soil. If you haven’t already done so, start to force rhubarb by covering it with a terracotta cloche or an old bucket to exclude the light and encourage tasty new stems.
If you grow soft fruit, now is the time to plant new raspberry canes and blackcurrant bushes. Prune gooseberry bushes to an open globe shape to allow air to circulate. Feed all fruit trees and bushes with a handful of sulphate of potash. It might also to a good idea to take stock of the netting around fruit cages and repair any holes that may allow in hungry birds.
Towards the end of the month you can begin to sow other vegetable seeds in the greenhouse if you have one. Plant seeds of broccoli, spring cabbage and onions. If you have a greenhouse vine or other climber, now is also the time to prune.
An effective way of fertilizing last year’s beds is to grow a green manure and now is the time to sow this. Crops of fenugreek, mustard and crimson clover can be sown now and then dug into the soil later in the spring to improve it.
Finally, now is the time to start sowing herb seeds in garden planters. Herbs such as parsley, mint, chives and oregano placed near the house will provide you with a plentiful crop to cook with throughout the summer months.
Jo Poultney is a RHS qualified gardener who has recently set up a business selling garden planters and garden related gifts via a website.