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What to Grow in February: A Gardener's Guide

As winter slowly begins to loosen its grip and signs of spring peek through the cold, February presents a crucial time for gardeners in the UK. While frost and chilly winds may still prevail, there are plenty of tasks and crops to tend to in the garden. Whether you have a sprawling allotment or a cozy backyard patch, here's a guide on what to grow in February in the UK to kickstart your gardening season.

Early Sowings:

  1. Broad Beans: February is the ideal time to sow broad beans in pots or directly into the ground if conditions allow. Opt for hardier varieties like Aquadulce Claudia, which can withstand the lingering cold.

  2. Peas: Early varieties of peas such as 'Meteor' or 'Douce Provence' can be sown under cover for an early crop. Alternatively, prepare the soil for direct sowing once the ground warms up a bit.

  3. Onions and Shallots: Start onion and shallot sets in modules or trays indoors for transplanting later. This gives them a head start before planting them out in March or April.

  4. Early Potatoes: Chit early potato varieties such as 'Rocket' or 'Swift' indoors to encourage sturdy shoots. Plant them out in the coming weeks once the risk of frost diminishes.

Bed Preparation:

  1. Clearing and Mulching: Take advantage of milder days to clear away any remaining debris from winter crops. Mulch bare soil to protect it from further frost and suppress weed growth.

  2. Soil Testing and Amending: Test soil pH and nutrient levels, and amend accordingly. Incorporate well-rotted compost or manure to improve soil structure and fertility.

  3. Preparing Seedbeds: Prepare seedbeds for future sowings by breaking up clumps, removing weeds, and adding organic matter. Aim for a fine, crumbly texture ideal for seed germination.

Indoor Activities:

  1. Seed Starting: Start tender crops such as tomatoes, peppers, and aubergines indoors under controlled conditions. Use seed trays or pots filled with quality seed compost and provide adequate warmth and light.

  2. Pruning and Maintenance: Carry out pruning tasks on fruit trees and bushes while they are still dormant. Remove dead, damaged, or crossing branches to promote healthy growth and airflow.

  3. Propagation: Take hardwood cuttings of deciduous shrubs such as roses, currants, and gooseberries. Pot them up in a gritty compost mix and keep them in a sheltered spot until they root.

Miscellaneous Tasks:

  1. Protecting Early Growth: Keep a close eye on weather forecasts and be prepared to protect tender seedlings from late frosts using cloches, fleece, or horticultural fleece.

  2. Planning and Ordering: Use this time to finalize your garden plans for the year ahead. Order seeds, bulbs, and any necessary supplies to ensure you're ready for the busy spring season.

  3. Wildlife Gardening: Set up bird feeders and nesting boxes to attract and support wildlife in your garden. Provide fresh water and consider planting early flowering plants to nourish bees and other pollinators.

February may still feel wintry, but it's a month filled with anticipation and preparation for the gardening year ahead. By tending to these tasks and crops, you'll be well on your way to a productive and vibrant garden as spring unfolds its beauty. Happy gardening!

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