After a month or two of relative quiet in the garden, jobs can now begin again in earnest and we can look forward to Spring not far away.
Buy your seed potatoes now and get them chitting in old egg boxes, especially the First Earlies which will be ready for planting around late March and harvesting in June. In light warm soils, first early potatoes can be planted at the end of February/early March. If there is a mild spell, broad beans can be sown now in open ground. It’s also a good time to plant shallots and garlic.
If not already done now is the time to prepare the ground ready for the onion bed – this can be in the same place for a number of years. A good way to plant the sets is through weed matting or quilt which is pegged down and which helps to keep the bed free of weeds.
Indoors, or in the greenhouse, early salad crops of lettuce and spring onion may be sown as well as indoor tomatoes, and radishes and carrots can be sown under cloches. Fuchsias which have been overwintered should be cut back hard and sprayed with water to encourage new growth.
Outside there’s work to be done in generally tidying up dead foliage, pruning late flowering clematis down to the lowest pair of buds; cut back previously pruned wisteria to two or three buds.When snowdrops have finished flowering it’s a good time to lift an divide the clumps and replant in smaller groups.
If you have not already done so
Sow sweet peas indoors or in the greenhouse, either singly in 5” root training tubes, or no more than 6 seeds to a 5” pot. Do not soak the seed and chipping is not necessary. Plant no more than 1/4” or 5mm deep in coarse multipurpose compost. Do not compact but water with a fine rose. Protect against mice and slugs. Once germination has taken place move the seedlings to a cold frame with as much light as possible to avoid them getting drawn and spindly. Also keep dry after the first watering until well established. Nip out the tips once 2 or 3 pairs of leaves have formed to encourage stronger side shoots and grow one of these on if you intend to exhibit the flowers.