the garden in February – it’s all about the preparation
Winter is the traditional down-time in the flower garden, but as February moves on, light levels get better and seed sowing will start. Early in the month is the perfect opportunity for getting outside for a few hours on a dry day and preparing for the sowing frenzy that is to come.
It will soon be time to start sewing seeds
Here are our top tips for #5things to get on with this month.
- Weed your beds thoroughly on a dry day, order some bulk bags of compost and mulch the ground.
- Order seed compost so that you can get going in the latter half of the month. We’re experimenting with some peat-free seed compost this year – better for the environment and, we hope, just as good for our seeds.
- Prune winter flowering shrubs after flowering, which will allow the maximum time for the development of young growth to provide the following year’s flowers before the end of the summer. Cut any damaged or dead shoots back to their point of origin or to ground level. Where there are many stems remove some to ground level to keep the bush open. Finally take out any weak, spindly or twiggy shoots right to the point of origin or to ground level so the plant concentrates its resources on strong new shoots that will bear the best flowers. Each year cut out up to 20 percent of ageing stems to near the base.
- After they have flowered, lift and divide snowdrops ‘in the green’ and replant to increase your stock for next year. Much more effective than planting dry bulbs.
- Start dahlia tubers stored over the winter into new growth. Divide the tubers when shoots are 2-3cm (about an inch) tall by separating them into portions, ensuring each section has both roots and shoots. Pot each section into a separate container and grow on until they are ready to plant out after the risk of frost is over.
Once all this is done you’ll be ready for seed sowing in a few weeks’ time.
looking out over the garden at the start of 2016
Happy New Year, flower lovers. We’re not into new year’s resolutions – certainly not of the giving up gin and cake variety. We get plenty of exercise in the Not so Secret Garden all year round to make this unnecessary. However, we have decided to introduce a new feature for 2016 on the blog.
From time to time you’ll see #5things appearing in the header as a way of signposting you to our top tips on all sorts of things. We’re beginning the new year with our top 5 things to do in the cutting garden in January. We’d love to hear about anybody who has been inspired to start their own cutting patch this year and is growing along with us. Tweet us or comment on our Facebook page. Of course, if you love cut flowers but have no time or space to grow many, we’ll happily provide you with beautiful, fragrant, home-grown blooms throughout most of the year.
January may seem like the closed season in the garden but, believe me, there’s plenty to be achieved even in the depths of winter.
- Give in to the natural urge to have a sort-out after Christmas. january is the perfect month to get rid of superfluous or broken garden bits and pieces, clean and tidy your greenhouse, wash pots and seed trays, maintain tools and organise yourself before seed sowing starts in earnest next month.
- Put in a seed order. Take a long hard look at your growing space, make a wishlist of some of your favourite flowers and settle down to make a planting plan to ensure that you have some cut flowers growing all through the season. (More of this later!) Then spend an hour in front of the fire with the seed catalogues before putting in an order to arrive in plenty of time for sowing tie in February.
- Plant a shrub. Increase your stock of foliage for posies and bouquets by growing a shrub or two. Now is the time to get planting as it’s the dormant season but the ground is still soft enough to work. Get your new plants off to the best start by adding some myccorhizal fungi to the planting hole.
- Prune your existing roses. Roses can be pruned when they are dormant. Cut to just above a bud and remove any straggly or crossing stems to give your rose a good shape.
- Plant out under cover (in a polytunnel) for early blooms. If you sowed a few sweet peas back in the autumn then you can pop them into your polytunnel now to ensure early pickings. If you don’t have a polytunnel, then keep pinching out the tips of your seedlings to avoid them getting weak and leggy. You can plant them out once the weather warms u in the spring. We’re experimenting with ranunculus by planting them out early with protection as they have outgrown their pots in the polytunnel. Ranunculus planted out of doors in a sheltered spot will be fine without protection – but our cossetted plants would have a bit of a shock.
If you are serious about growing along with us, then why not subscribe to our newsletter? You’ll receive a monthly email with a planting plan for your cutting patch along with a monthly to do list, hints and tips from Grace and the team.