Spring is tantalisingly close, so we can start sowing seeds of flowers and veg indoors. Find out what to do during February in your garden with Which? Gardening’s top gardening jobs.
Even if the weather is too cold or wet to work outdoors, there’s plenty to be doing indoors to get your garden ready for the spring and summer ahead.
For in-depth advice about what to do in your garden each month, subscribe to Which? Gardening for only £5 – either online or by calling 029 2267 0000.
1. Sow veg and flowers indoors
It’s too cold to sow outdoors, but you can get off to an early start by sowing indoors. A light windowsill is a great place to start them off; they can then ideally be moved into a frost-free greenhouse.
Providing good light levels is key or seedlings will grow tall and spindly. Use a Best Buy compost for sowing seeds to get the best results. Only buy as much compost as you need as it performs better when fresh. Always store it indoors in a cool and dry place such as a shed because it will deteriorate more rapidly when wet or too hot.
Hardy veg, such as spinach, onions, calabrese, early cabbage, spring onions, lettuce and pea shoots, can all be sown in module trays, ready to be planted outside in March. Annual flowers that need a long growing season, such as the climber cobaea, should be started off in February but most can wait until March. Sweet peas should be sown now if you didn’t sow them last autumn.
2. Finish pruning apple and pear trees
New leaves will be growing soon, so prune any remaining apple and pear trees while they’re still dormant. Start by removing dead, rubbing or weak growth. Shorten this year’s growth on main branches by a third, to a bud facing the direction you want the branch to grow in. Cut back sideshoots to five or six buds.
3. Protect your plants from rabbits and deer
Deer and rabbits are surprisingly common, even in urban gardens. They can both damage plants as food resources run low. Wire netting is the best way to keep rabbits out. Fencing is the most effective solution to keeping deer out of your garden. Unfortunately, it is expensive and can be unsightly. Fences should be at least 2m high; increase this to 2.4m high for the taller red deer. Fences must be firmly secured along the ground. Alternatively, put guards on young trees.
4. Get ready to grow potatoes
Potatoes are grown from tubers that have been grown in disease-free conditions called ‘seed potatoes’. You can buy these at the garden centre or order online. There are a surprising number of varieties available and growing them yourself allows you to enjoy varieties that aren’t commonly available at the supermarket. Which? Gardening magazine has trialled many varieties to find the tastiest and highest yielding ones.
When you get your seed potatoes, take them out of the bag and put them in a light, frost-free place, such as a windowsill. This process, known as ‘chitting’, will help prevent them growing long shoots that are easily damaged. Early varieties of potato can be planted outdoors in March but maincrop ones should wait until April.
Discover our Best Buy potato varieties and how to grow them.