Garden Maintenance in February
February is the month when you garden starts to show the first signs of coming back to life after the go slow and dormancy of winter and because of that, it's one of my favourite times to get outdoors and really make a difference to by sowing the seeds - literally and figuratively speaking - for the garden of your dreams.
One of your first tasks this month will be to check your soil. This is important whether you are new to your garden or you've been together for years because unless you know the relative acidity or alkalinity of the soil (a measure we refer to as the pH of the soil) you run the risk of wasting money by planting the wrong types of plants for your soil conditions. And whilst you're testing the pH, you should also check nutrient levels so that you can improve the condition of the soil and give your plants the best fighting chance of success.
Another key task is to cut back the deciduous grasses that you've left uncut over winter. We've talked before about the beauty of the winter garden and how, when nothing is growing, structure and the silhouette of a plant's shape become the all important aesthetic through the months of December and January. Having enjoyed this apsect of a mid winter garden, it's now time to get cutting and pruning and clear the decks ready for the new lease of life and plant growth that is already pushing up and through the soil. You will also need to cut back those flowering perennials and shrubs that will come again in the spring or the summer. The pruning shears won't be far from your side throughout this month because now it also the time to tackle the hedges, wisteria and conservatory climbing plants.
If you're a keen vegetable gardener or proud allotment owner, now is the time to start preparing your vegetable seed beds and to start sowing some of your vegetables under cover. This is also the month to chit your potatoes and net fruit and winter vegetable crops to keep the hungry birds off. You'll notice the wildlife starting to reawaken alongside the garden so don't forget to keep feeding the wild birds and any other creatures you have welcomed to share your outdoor space with you. This is the right time to plant roses but don't plant new plants in the same spot where you've grown roses before or you risk introducing replant diseases. Check all your plants - shrubs, trees and veg for signs of disease and take immediate action if you find signs of blight or poor health.
Back indoors, February is also the month to order your gardening catalogues for spring and summer flowering bulbs, bedding plants and perennials. Light the fire, toast the crumpets and settle down in your favourite easy chair to plan the riot of spring and summer colour that you can spend the next few months of the gardening year looking forward to seeing come to fruition.