- The winter months should have been spent cleaning trays and pots out ready to start again.
- Not quite sowing, but potatoes should be being chatted by now - this is letting small sprouts grow on them so they're already growing when they're ready to be planted out. Keep them in good light conditions - this will cause the sprouts to remain compact and small, and green, rather than the long, spindly white sprouts you get from keeping them in the dark. Keep them frost free too.
- It's about the right time to start leeks and onions from seed, ideally with some heat (a small electric propagator is ideal).
- It's too early to start sowing things outdoors, but seeds such as broad beans can be started indoors in small pots, ready to plant out in April when things start warming up.
- Tomato seeds can be started, if you have a heated greenhouse to keep them growing - don't start seeds for an unheated greenhouse or outdoors until about the end of March.
TO PLANT OUT
- Onion sets can be planted out this time of year - plant them with the tip just slightly sticking out of the soil - this will allow you to see where you have planted them, yet keep the birds from rooting them out. It can be risky planting them this early - varying temperatures can confuse onions into bolting (flowering) and giving a greatly reduced harvest.
- Any winter vegetables that are ready to come out can be dropped onto the dinner table; crops such as kale, cauliflower, sprouts, cabbage, rhubarb, endive and chicory are ready; for details of more, check out our Seasonal in February article to find out what you can harvest now.
- Rain and snow in winter can wash away many nutrients in the soil; keep beds covered with leafmould, autumn leaves, or spent compost.
- Its best to constantly weed when you can; the roots of perennial roots take hold over the winter and make them harder to pull later in the year.
- Protect any vulnerable pots outside by wrapping them in bubble wrap or hessian sacking. It also helps to group pots together in a sheltered corner of the garden.
- Knock any heavy snow fall from trees or shrubs to prevent branches getting damaged.
IN THE GREENHOUSE
- Most of the activity in the greenhouse this time of year will be sowing seeds, shown above.
- You can grow crops you wouldn't normally grow in this country, such as oranges, lemons and even pineapples, if you have a heated greenhouse. You won't get a huge crop, but as a novelty, it may be worth a try if you have the space!