Slowly but surely the days are getting longer and gardening seems a possibility again. Spring has almost arrived.
Tips for February
1. Put right any storm damage
After several storms, it is a good idea to pick a sunny calm day and go outside and tidy up. There will be a lot of debris and damage to put right. Also a lot of soggy brown dead foliage which needs collecting or cutting back.
2. Garden equipment
Now is a good time to check that all your garden tools are in good order for the coming season. Give your secateurs a good clean, sharpen and oil.
3. Visit a snowdrop garden
Visit a snowdrop garden, there are several in the area, Ardardan has a good display in the woodland to the east of the poly tunnels. Also admire them in your own garden, if you have none, make a mental note to buy some bulbs in the green over the next couple of months, or ask friends to divide a clump or two.
4. Check the rhubarb
Look to see if you can pick any forced Rhubarb yet, you may have to wait until March. If you see it for sale, make sure it is from the Yorkshire triangle, traditionally grown.
5. Plant softneck garlic
Plant softneck garlic in individual small pots and put outside where they will get cold. Also, elephant garlic (not a true garlic, but lovely in the Autumn) can be planted in this way
6. Sweet peas
It is a good time to sow sweet pea seeds. Use deep pots, rootrainers or the inner cardboard tubes from toilet rolls.
7. Plant shallots
Shallots can also be planted in small, individual pots, but keep in a cold greenhouse or coldframe until March.
Trim winter flowering heathers once they have finished blooming.
9. Keep looking after the birds
Make sure the bird feeders are kept in good order and cleaned regularly.
10. Prune fruit trees
As usual, check round the garden. Trees need to have their ties loosened, fruit trees can be pruned, except those in the plum family. They are done in the summer to avoid silver leaf.
Winter prune apple trees to stimulate new growth. A light trim every year is better than occasional hard pruning. Keep the centre of the tree open to allow good air circulation. Think of a wine glass shape. Apple varieties such as Bramley produce fruit on the branch tips, so only remove crowded and crossing branches, do not tip prune. Other apple varieties which produce fruit on spurs along the branches can have branch leaders shortened by a few buds. Remove some older or congested spurs. Pruning stimulates growth, so weaker laterals can be pruned harder (cut shorter) than strong growing laterals and branch leaders.
Blueberry bushes are ideally suited to our acidic soils and high rainfall. The leaves turn a most attractive red colour in the autumn so they make a useful addition to our west of Scotland gardens. Once they are about three years old, they may be pruned in late February or early March. Cut out a few of the oldest stems right to the base to encourage new replacement shoots to grow.
If you grow autumn fruiting raspberries such as ‘Autumn Bliss’, cut all the canes down to the ground this month.
11. Prune Buddleja
Prune Buddleja hard back to where buds are swelling