It’s the start of February, the days are starting to get longer and so, for all keen gardeners out there, it’s time for the second instalment of Tony’s Tips. Tony, our resident gardener at Lightwoods who has transformed the Shakespeare Garden as well as maintaining the Park as well, has put together some advice on what to do in the garden this month. Green fingers at the ready!

Jobs to do in the garden in February:

This month is always a bit unpredictable weather wise for gardening folks. Already snow has caused problems and may do again in the coming weeks. Therefore, it is important to keep an eye on the evergreen shrubs and trees that may get weighted down with snow coverings. This problem can be quickly resolved by reaching for a soft broom and gently brushing of the snow to prevent branch breakage.

DID YOU KNOW?

Cold air is heavier than warm air and therefore drops down to the lowest depths of the garden.

These are known in gardening terms as frost pockets. It is good practice to make a note of these areas and refrain from planting fruit trees or other frost susceptible plants in these areas.

Here are some other jobs to do around the garden this month.

1: Check tree stakes are secure after high winds and loosen any ties that may be cutting into tree bark.

2: Prune wisteria by shortening again the summer produced side shoots. These were reduced last year to three or four leaves and can now be reduced again back to three or four buds. Some hard pruning may be needed on dead, diseased or damaged stems and to reduce the weight on the structural frame if needed.

3: Prune back cornus (dogwoods) and salix (willows) and winter flowering shrubs once the flowers have faded.

4: Last chance this month to take hardwood cuttings from shrubs such as weigela, forsythia, cornus, salix and ribes for propagation.

5: Root cuttings can be taken from perennials such as acanthus mollis, papaver orientale, phlox and verbascum for propagation.

6: Hardy annuals can be sown into pots or module s indoors.

7: Visually check emerging perennials later this month for root and crown rots.

8: Later this month apply blood, fish and bone to your flower beds to give perennials a good feed and to encourage growth.

9: Mulch lighter soils with organic matter, this will act as insulation for plant roots whilst also conditioning the soil and suppressing weed growth.

10: Dig over seed beds and warm up the ground. This is best achieved by placing polythene, fleeces or cloches over the seed beds two weeks prior to any outdoor sowing of seeds.

11: Order potatoes for chitting and vegetable seeds for sowing indoors for early crops.

The following are some recommended varieties of early crops that can be sown outdoors at the end of the month once the ground has warmed up.

Carrots

A: Daucas carota’Nantea 2’

B: Daucas carota’NapoliF1’

Beetroot

A: Beta Vulgaris’Boltardy 2’

B: Beta vulgaris’Pablo’

Cauliflower

A: Brassica oleracea Var botrytis ‘Nautilis’

B: Brassica oleracea Var botrytis ‘Nessie’

Lettuce

A: Lactuca sativa ‘Lobjoits green’

B: Lactuca sativa ‘Hollywood’

Radish

A: Raphanus sativus ‘Sparkler’

B: Raphanus sativus ‘French breakfast 3’

Turnips

A: Brassica rapa ‘Tokyo cross’

B: Brassica rapa ‘Snowball’

Top Tip

If you do not have a garden or only have a small area to grow vegetables in, you could save space by using house guttering, propped on house bricks to grow salads and radishes. This can be a fun way for children to get involved with food cultivation.