By Ruth Doherty
Getting out into the garden has been a sanctuary for many during lockdown, and there are plenty of jobs you can get on with, even in February.
To ensure you have a bumper harvest and a visually-pleasing outdoor space, you can start ticking off jobs like sowing tomatoes, chitting potatoes, and pruning the roses, right now.
- See: Kitchen garden ideas – easy ways to get started
Thankfully, Monty Don has written a blog detailing nine things you should be doing in the garden this February. Don't forget to grab the gloves...
1. Sow tomatoes
Now's the time to sow your first batch of tomatoes, says Monty. He explains: 'I scatter the seed thinly on the surface of peat-free compost in a seed tray and then very lightly covering them either with a layer of more compost or of vermiculite. Water them well and put them in a warm spot to germinate.'
When you see the first 'true' leaves you know they have roots, and can then be 'pricked out into better compost and individual pots or plugs to grow on into young plants ready to plant out in May', says Monty.
- See: How to grow tomatoes - the best ways to grow your own tomato plants
2. Chitting potatoes
We recently saw Clodagh McKenna's potato chitting tips that she's been putting into practice at home over on the Highclere estate – or Downton Abbey for fans of the series.
Monty Don agrees it's a good time to do it. He says: 'Place the seed potatoes in a seed tray or egg box and put somewhere bright, cool but frost free. The knobbly shoots will start to appear after a few weeks and can then be left until the soil is warm enough for planting.'
- How to grow potatoes – a step-by-step guide
3. Sow broad beans
'I always try and sow some broad beans in February for an early crop,' says Monty. 'As soon as the soil warms up a little and the days get longer they will have had enough of a start to provide a picking a week or so earlier than the later ones – and that is a treat worth preparing for.'
Monty suggests to sow the bean seed about eight inches apart in double rows with about a foot or so between the lines and plenty of space, about three feet, between these double rows. He simply pushes each bean directly into the soil. The best early varieties? Witkiem and Aquadulce.
4. Sow rocket
'Now is the best time to sow rocket as it germinates very fast and will grow in relatively cool weather whereas most lettuce needs warmer conditions to grow well,' explains Monty.
You can sow directly where the crop is going to grow, leaving between six to nine inches between individual plants. Why? 'This will help them develop a strong root system which will produce stronger growth and a much greater number of leaves to harvest,' says Monty, adding: 'The leaves are best cut as needed and will rapidly regrow as a result.'
5. Sow seeds... for the birds, every day
February is the month when birds begin to mate, nest and lay their first clutch of eggs, so do keep feeding them every day.
'The better nourished the parent birds are, especially in cold weather, the larger and healthier the offspring will be,' says Monty. 'So feed fat, nuts and seeds daily throughout the month and be sure to provide fresh drinking and bathing water.
You can see more of Monty Don's bird feeding tips on our dedicated page.
For full information on February gardening tips, visit montydon.com.
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