With colder temperatures that bring frost, paired with longer days that offer potential sunshine, February is an unpredictable month for gardeners. But it is also the best time of year to start organising your garden for the year ahead. Spend this month focusing on soil, vegetables and flowers.
One of the most important things you can do when you start to organise your garden this month is to find out what type of soil you are working with.
Sandy soil will feel gritty to the touch and the granules will crumble in your fingers. Sandy soil does not thrive in heavy rain as the nutrients it holds will wash away, meaning this soil can be problematic.
Clay soil can become dense when wet and if you mould the soil in your hands and it retains its shape, then you have clay soil. Despite being a fertile soil, it can become waterlogged in rainy conditions.
The best way to help improve both types of these soils is to add manure. Manure seals in moisture for sandy soil while it aids drainage for clay soil. Westland Organic Chicken Manure Pellets is an ideal product to use as the formulation breaks down into the soil, slowing releasing nutrients. It contains nitrogen which encourages stronger roots and is ideal for soil enrichment.
Once you know the type of soil you have, we recommend undertaking a pH test. Knowing the results of the pH test means you will have a better understanding of which plants and flowers will thrive.
If soil is acidic, it means that the nutrients that are meant for plants are trapped. To prevent this from happening, we recommend using Westland Garden Lime to decrease the levels of acid within the soil. It is enriched with calcium which works with the lime to help nutrient intake, produce brighter blooms and greener foliage.
To improve your soil, it is a good idea to use organic fertilizer at the end of this month. Organic fertilizer gives out slow releasing nutrients so that plants, although growing at a slower pace, will become more strong and steady as time goes on. We recommend using Westland Growmore which is ideal as a base and top dressing. The formulation builds soil fertility, making it a healthy environment for plants and flowers to grow.
Keeping soil in good condition in February ensures that your garden will produce beautiful blooms and strong plants in the months ahead. It is an important task and one you won't regret undertaking!
February is an ideal month to begin sowing vegetable seeds. The best vegetables to start growing are lettuce, radish and others such as beetroot and kale. It is best to sow the seeds indoors first before moving them outside when they will be stronger and better equipped to deal with the elements.
This is also the time to start improving your greenhouse if you happen to have one; check the glass to ensure the frame is keeping the outside air from filtering in too much. Perhaps a deep clean is needed?
Ensure that the greenhouse is warm enough to house your vegetable seeds. It is important to ventilate your greenhouse on warmer days while keeping an even temperature; it is a balancing act! Ensure that seedlings are exposed to the right amount of light, otherwise they may grow too tall and lanky, meaning they will easily break.
To improve vegetable quality, we recommend using a fertilizer such as Vitax Blood, Fish & Bone which contains three major nutrients to encourage healthy growth of vegetables. The added Potash promotes ripening of fruit and vegetables. This fertilizer is best applied throughout the growing season and before seeds are sown.
Spring is just around the corner which means you can start to plan which flowers you wish to grow in your garden. One of the best types of flowers to grow this month are hardy annuals.
Hardy annuals are ideal for this time of year as the majority of the time, they can hold their own against harsh weather conditions such as frost. By adapting to the cold, these flowers stand a better chance than most at surviving the winter. However, should frosty conditions worsen, ensure that you cover them to keep them protected.
Although hardy annuals only live for a season, they offer an array of colour and vibrancy, helping to brighten up your garden during this wintery time of year.
Other flowers you can plant this month are 'bulbs in the green' such as snowdrops. Plant them while they are in the middle of growing and soon you will see them bloom; they grow quicker than most plants at this time of year.
If you are using your greenhouse to sow summer plants, a word of caution! Sowing summer plants too early presents a risk of them dying due to being kept in containers for a long period of time.
Just because it is now coming to the end of winter does not mean that this is the end of your winter blooms! An additional task you can do in the garden this month is to deadhead winter pansies and other winter flowers to prolong their display.
Enjoy working in the garden this February - it's not all doom and gloom! Quite the opposite in fact; a month to organise, prepare and start bringing that dream garden to life.