Hints & Tips
It's been a wet and weary January, with storms battering Britain and leaving large swathes of the country underwater.
Nice weather for ducks, perhaps, but for everyone else it's been pretty miserable.
The only consolation is that temperatures haven't fallen very low – in fact, they've often been unseasonably mild.
As February approaches and the days finally start to grow longer, signs of spring start to emerge. You might already have seen some daffodils beginning to poke their heads above the soil.
Much of your tasks for the month ahead are focussed around preparing your garden for the spring. Pruning is high on the agenda, so get those secateurs ready!
This month, you'll need to prepare your seed beds and sow some vegetables undercover. Tread over the area if it hasn't been settled by rain and scatter a general-purpose fertiliser over the soil. Rake until the ground is level and remove any large stones or debris.
You should also chit potato tubers during February – this extends their growing period and results in higher yields. Place the tubers on a tray with the rose end uppermost and keep trays in a cool, frost-free place with a moderate light. Within around six weeks, shoots should be five cm long and dark-coloured. Choose about four strong shoots and rub off the shoots for weaker potatoes.
Make sure you protect blossom on apricots, nectarines and peaches. Wisteria should also be pruned – cut back growths to two or three buds to ensure the flowers are not covered up by leaves.
Net fruit and vegetable crops to keep the birds off. If you took part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch last weekend, you might have been lucky enough to spot some rare species – but you don't want them spoiling your crops!
Winter-flowering shrubs that have finished flowering should be pruned. Cut any damaged or dead shoots back to ground level or to their point of origin. If there are a lot of stems, remove some of them to ground level. Remove any weak, spindly or twiggy shoots to ensure the plant puts all its resources into strong, new shoots.
Bulbs such as snowdrops should be divided and planted 'in the green'.
Hardy evergreen hedges should also be pruned and deciduous evergreen hedges renovated. Conservatory climbers should be pruned to ensure they produce the best new shoots.
If you need a hand trimming hedges, you might want to invest in one of our Efco hedgetrimmers.
Finally, cut back any deciduous grasses you didn't cut back over the winter.
Unfortunately, February doesn't look like it's going to get off to the best start – spells of wet and windy weather are forecast for the first week of the month, particularly in western areas. This could be persistent, although southern and eastern parts of the country may see drier and brighter spells. Once again, though, higher temperatures are the silver lining to all those storm clouds.
So make sure you've got some wellies and waterproofs at the ready before you head out into the garden.