It may still be chilly outdoors but there's plenty to do to get ready for the spring ahead. It's a good time to stock up on things you'll need for sowing seeds, such as pots and labels.
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Make sure that you site your box out of the prevailing wind and strong sunlight. It should be about 1-3m above the ground, ideally on a tree trunk, but a wall or shed is fine, too.
Look for somewhere that is hard for cats or squirrels to reach and be sure to position it away from bird tables and feeders, as they're busy areas.
Prepare for sowing seeds and potting up plug plants with a . Buy fresh, as compost deteriorates in the bag overtime and gives a poor performance. Check that the packaging isn’t faded and the bag doesn’t feel heavy or waterlogged. Store in a shed or garage so it doesn’t get wet.
Before the greenhouse begins to fill up with plants, take the opportunity to tidy up any pots and trays, and scrub the staging. Finish off by cleaning the glass inside and out as it will increase the light levels for your plants, which is especially important early in the year when they’re naturally low.
Add organic matter to improve your soil by simply spreading it on the surface in a layer roughly 3-5cm deep. Spent mushroom compost, well-rotted manure and garden compost all are ideal.
Freshen up your lawn edges by recutting them with a half-moon tool or a spade. Use a taut string line as a guide for straight edges or a hose for curved edges. Your garden will look instantly neater. You can then maintain the edge by trimming with long-handled shears or a grass trimmer every time you mow.
The composting process naturally slows down during the colder winter weather. To help give it a boost, stir your compost heap with an aerator tool or dig it out and refill it. This will reduce compaction and speed up rotting.
Left in a dark cupboard, seed potatoes would grow long shoots that snap off easily when planting in March. To avoid this happening, ‘chit’ the potatoes by putting them in a tray and leaving them in a light, frost-free place.
Mid-February is the start of the veg-sowing season, but don’t sow everything at once. It’s still early in the season, so begin with hardy veg such as , , and spinach. Sow in module trays indoors and plant outside when they’re big enough to handle.
Get your garlic in the ground before the end of February.
Break the bulbs into the individual cloves and plant pointed-end up, so that the tip is just covered in soil. Space them 15cm apart in rows that are 30cm apart in a sunny spot, preferably with well-drained soil.
After looking good all winter, the biscuit-coloured stems of deciduous ornamental grasses, such as miscanthus, will begin to get untidy. Using secateurs, cut them back to ground level, being careful not to damage any new, green growth that's sprouting at the base.
You can give plants a boost by feeding them and mulching around them.
Some tender plants, such as pelargoniums and , need a long growing season, so it's good to start them off from seed early in the year. Check the back of the seed packet and sow when recommended as others can be left as late as April or even May.