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Getting prepared for Spring


With the longer days in February, make the most of any sunny opportunities to get a head start on the growing season. There’s plenty to do indoors and out; there’s no ‘off-season’ for gardeners!


Sort out the vegetable beds:

  • Add well rotted manure or compost to empty beds. With our local sandy soil adding organic matter is critical to improve water retention.

  • For any early crops, such as potatoes, help warm the ground by pinning down some old compost bags, black side up, on the bed.

  • Use cloches to warm soil for early sowings of broad beans, carrots and parsnips

  • Clear up general debris to help keep pests to a minimum, but do leave an area for overwintering insects such as ladybirds and bubble bees. Leaves and old plants can go in the compost bin

  • Sunny February days are perfect for spring cleaning your shed to be ready for the busy months ahead. Sharpen secateurs and check that your tools are still fit for purpose.

Pruning and Planting:

  • It’s the perfect time to plant soft fruit such as raspberry canes and currant bushes, and also fruit trees. These can be purchased ‘bare root’ which makes them cheaper, and easier to plant. Have a look at what’s available from Ashridge Trees and Blackmoor.

  • Prune away the old canes of autumn-fruiting raspberries down to the ground, weed around them and apply a mulch . This will give the new shoots plenty of time, energy and space to grow and strengthen, to hold the fruit crop.

  • Cut back the dead stems of perennial herbs like oregano, marjoram, mint, chives to make way for new growth which will be coming through soon.

  • It’s your last chance to prune apple, pear and fig trees.

  • You still have time to dig up, and split, any large rhubarb clumps to give them a new lease of life. Spare clumps (split them up using a sharp spade first) can be put on the sharing table - they are very popular and go fast. When planting rhubarb choose a sunny, open position and prepare the soil by digging deeply and incorporating plenty of manure or rich, homemade compost. Plant the crowns so that the buds are level with the soil surface. Firm in and water well. Let plants establish for a year before harvesting. It’ll be worth the wait! You can also start forcing established plants by covering them with a terracotta pot.

Indoors:

  • Plan what you’re going to grow and where, taking into account crop rotation. If the soil is regularly enriched there’s no need to have a fallow season.

  • Wash plant pots, seed trays and cold frames

  • Start chitting your first early seed potatoes. standing them in trays or egg boxes in a light but frost-free position.

  • Though it’s a bit early to sow most seeds unless you have a heated greenhouse (the danger is that seedlings grow too leggy before planting out) you can start sowing tomatoes, chilli peppers, aubergines and cucumbers in a heated propagator.

  • Check what seeds you have and the sow by dates, buy or order seeds you need for the upcoming season

  • Don’t forget your 15% WAHGA discount code if you are ordering plug plants from Rocket Gardens! Contact us at weybridgeallotments@gmail.com if you need a reminder of the code. Plants will be delivered in late spring ready for instant planting.

Harvesting:

  • The last sprouts and cabbages

  • Leeks, celeriac and parsnips

  • Winter salad leaves and lettuces

  • Spinach and chard

  • Golden turnips

  • Spring onions

  • Pak choi

  • Kale

Flowers:

  • Many of us grow flowers our allotments, when doing this think of the pollinators that we need for our fruit and vegetables. Open flowers are the best, so include a mix in your planting so there is something for you and the pollinators to enjoy.

In the garden:

  • Prune overgrown shrubs and hedges before the nesting season starts.

  • Plant out bare-rooted trees and shrubs. February is also a good time to move shrubs, make sure you dig out a good-sized rootball.

  • Prune late-flowering shrubs, such as buddleia and hardy fuchsias. Cut buddleia down to about a metre height. In late February, prune back shoots on mophead and lacecap hydrangeas to a pair of buds.

  • Lightly prune any clematis that flowers in late spring and early summer. Prune wisteria to encourage flowering.

  • Clear and rake ground ready for hardy annuals.

  • Start sowing slow-growers under cover – such as antirrhinums and cobaea.

  • Add organic fertiliser (i.e. not manufactured) to your borders; ‘blood, fish and bone’, seaweed based or pelleted chicken manure is ideal.

  • If there is a dry spell, remember to water pots and planters.