Jobs to do this month
Spring isn’t so far away now, and the soil should start to warm up later in the month. It’s time to finish the winter jobs: bare-root planting, winter pruning and digging. As long as the ground isn’t frozen, one job this month is to cultivate and prepare seedbeds, covering them with clear polythene, cloches or fleece to warm up the soil before sowing.
This list isn’t exhaustive. You can get detailed advice from many organisations, especially those listed on this website under Useful sources of help and advice.
- Remove all remaining plant debris from the vegetable plot.
- Remove any rotten stored fruit.
- Slugs can pose a threat, and slug controls are necessary now, as always.
- Cultivate and prepare seedbeds, covering them with clear polythene, cloches or fleece to warm up the soil before sowing. Top-dress raised beds with garden compost ready for sowing in the spring when the soil warms up.
- Take delivery of and plant fruit trees, bushes, canes and vines if the soil isn’t frozen.
- Prune newly planted raspberries back to 30cm (12in).
- Tip back established summer-fruiting raspberry canes to 15cm (6in) above their top support wire. It’s your last chance to cut down established autumn-fruiting raspberries. Apply a good layer of mulch round them.
- Cover outdoor, soil-grown strawberries with cloches for an earlier crop.
- Top-dress and feed fruit in pots.
- This is your last chance to winter-prune apples, pears, medlars, quinces, currants and gooseberries.
- Mulch rhubarb.
- You can force rhubarb for an early crop, but remember that it’ll weaken the plant for subsequent growth, so only force one or two plants each year.
- Winter-wash fruit trees and bushes if you’ve not done it already.
Vegetables and salads
- Prepare new asparagus beds.
- Feed spring cabbages with high nitrogen feeds.
- Dig over new beds, but try to avoid digging in wet weather.
- Chit seed potato tubers as soon as you have them. Prepare this year’s potato plot with a good layer of compost or rotted manure.
- From mid-February onwards sow tomato and cucumber seed for greenhouse growing.
- Plant out onion, garlic and shallots in light soils only; heavy soils need longer to warm up. Or plant in modules.
- Sow onions under glass, ready for planting out in the spring.
- Sow broad beans, carrots, parsnips, early beetroot, bulb onions, lettuces, radish, peas, spinach and summer cabbages outside under cloches.
- Sow peas in the greenhouse in cleaned old guttering with drainage holes drilled in the bottom.
- Plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers.
- Protect brassicas from pigeon damage.