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Louise Curley

02 Feb 2024 11:16

Ten Garden Jobs To Do in February

Ten Garden Jobs To Do in February

Make the most of any dry days to tackle jobs outside and when the weather turns wet or snowy retreat indoors to the greenhouse or shed for a spot of spring cleaning.

 Clean the Greenhouse

If you do only one thing this month make sure you clean the glass on your greenhouse, removing the dirt that has built up over winter so that plants can make the most of any light now that the days are getting longer. You need to clean the glass on the inside too, so if the weather obliges move everything out of the greenhouse – plants should be moved to somewhere warm, say a porch or kitchen, for the duration – and take the opportunity to wash the frame and staging too, making sure you get into any crevices where pests might be overwintering.

Sharpen and Clean Tools

February is a busy month for pruning plants, so before you start snipping make sure your tools are clean and sharp. Clean the blades with wire wool and an oil such as WD-40 or camellia oil, which the Japanese use to protect their tools from rust. Use a whetstone to sharpen the blade, test that it’s sharp enough by cutting a piece of paper. Then apply some oil to the central pivot and spring.

Prune Late-Flowering Clematis

Clematis are divided into three different pruning types and it’s those that bloom from midsummer into autumn that should be pruned now. If left they’ll become a tangled mess of stems, the plant’s flower power will diminish and the flowers will be produced higher up the stems where you’re less able to see them. Cut the stems back to just above the lowest pair of buds.

Prune Roses

Roses, apart from the rambling and groundcover types, should be pruned now before they start to grow. Start by removing anything that’s not healthy looking growth– so branches that are brittle or black, grey or brown. Snip out any branches that are crossing as these can rub, causing wounds, and also remove any spindly growth. Then prune back the remaining stems by a third to a half. Pruning just above an outward-facing bud will help the plant develop an open shape which will promote good air flow and help to prevent fungal diseases. For climbing roses prune out any branches grow outwards from the wall or fence, then trim last year’s flowering stems back to about 3-5cm from the main stem.

Clear Away Fallen Leaves From Pond

Don some cleaning gloves and fish out leaves or other plant debris that has fallen into your pond. Place on the side by the pond edge so that any creatures living among the plant matter can crawl back into the pond.

Chit Potatoes

Encouraging seed potatoes to form shoots helps to get first and second early potatoes off to a flying start once planted up (it doesn’t seem to make as much of a difference with maincrop varieties). Have a look at each potato looking for which end has the most ‘eyes’ – the indentations where the shoots will appear – and place them with this end facing upwards in egg boxes or in a seed tray. Place them somewhere bright and cool but frost-free and stubby shoots will start to appear over the coming weeks.

Cut Back Ornamental Deciduous Grasses

Prune grasses such as calamagrostis, miscanthus, molinia and panicum this month, removing the tired top growth from last year down to just above the ground. Using a hedge trimmer for big clumps will speed up the task, but make sure you wear eye protection.

Divide Herbaceous Perennials

If the weather allows, the end of the month is the ideal time to divide clumps of perennials such as hardy geraniums, astrantia, heleniums and nepeta. It’s a good idea to do this every 3-5 years to reinvigorate the plants so that they keep flowering to their full potential. Take the opportunity to remove any woody central section as this won’t produce new growth. Use a sharp spade or an old pruning saw to slice the plants into smaller sections and replant these.

Sow Seeds of Plants that Need a Long Growing Season

Some annuals and perennials – antirrhinums, achillea, cobaea, tomatoes, chillies and aubergines – need a long growing season if they’re to produce flowers and in some cases fruit. While light levels are still low and it’s still chilly, these are all plants that will benefit from an early start. It’s important to give them as much light as possible and warmth from a heated propagator will aid germination.

Tidy Up the Shed

Before the growing season gets under way in earnest, take a moment to give your shed a late winter clear out. Clean plant labels and store them away. Wash pots and stack them neatly. Roll up twine, wipe down shelves and the potting bench, and sweep the floor.