‘For the gardener, February is a month to be endured, not enjoyed. If it brings a few mild days, do not be in too great a hurry to start spring sowing, for this is the time of the year when patience is a sensible virtue‘. (Frances Perry)
‘This month often has the worst weather of the year. It tends to be damp, wet and depressing. It is the lowest ebb of winter. Occasionally the sun appears, and you are deceived into thinking that spring has arrived early. Hopes rise, only to be dashed again as the the wind sets in, the rain pours and it freezes‘. (David Mabey)
In the modern organic raised bed kitchen garden, however, the very first plantings and sowings may be made towards the end of the month when conditions allow:
Broad beans can be sown outdoors in raised beds from this month onwards. Ensure the top soil is freshly turned over, warm, well-weeded, clean, and free of any detritus that may harbour overwintering pests such as woodlice, slugs and snails, and their eggs. Carefully plant the beans about three inches deep at least six inches (15cm) apart in rows six inches apart in a square formation, so that the bean plants have room to grow, and yet to support and cross-fertilise each other later. It is essential to cover the planted beans with horticultural fleece, held down around the edges of the bed by canes or battens to protect the beans from adverse weather conditions, and from pests such as slugs, snails and bean weevils.
Place the tubers into good clean soil at least nine inches (22cm) apart, about four inches (10 cm) deep, and as with the broad beans, protect the tubers from pests by covering the raised bed with horticultural fleece.
Shallots and garlic
Plant the shallot bulbs or garlic cloves into a previously manured, weeded and pest-free raised bed, about eight inches (20cms) or six inches (15cms) apart each way, with the soil level well below the top edges of the bed. Press the bulbs firmly down into the soil until they are half-buried. The major pests of the onion family are birds, which pull them out, and cats which climb on the beds and disturb and uproot them. The best answer is to cover the bed with a layer of chicken wire until the bulbs are firmly rooted, and remove the wire when the green shoots start to grow through it.
Potatoes. Seed potatoes can be chitted now by laying them in egg boxes or trays with the ‘eye’ end uppermost in a cool, light, frost-free place.
Rhubarb. Established rhubarb crowns should be emerging in February, and can be ‘forced’ for an earlier crop by covering them with old buckets or large clay forcing pots.
Copyright (c) 2013 Torbay Organic Gardening Society, 25 Church Road, St Marychurch, Torquay TQ1 4QY
Tel 01803 328055 Leaflet No: CAL2