Monday 23 October 2017

Plenty of jobs to do in the garden in February

By Andrew Collyer - Practical Gardening

Acacia dealbata - mimosa in flower
Acacia dealbata - mimosa in flower

Take you pick from the above

Acacia dealbata-the beautiful yellow mimosa tree

February already seems to have been wetter than the whole of January, thank goodness it's a short month and with March hot on its heels we can all shout Spring no matter what it is deciding to do outside. In a couple of weeks time with the days getting longer and longer plants will well and truly start to begin their spring push.

There is a tendency when the weather gets wet like this to put off all garden jobs until it dries up a bit. This is certainly true if any of these jobs involve soil, it's just not worth the hardship and you can actually be doing more harm than good attempting to work soil when saturated by creating compaction. The same can be said of lawn areas so try to stay off as much as possible. There are plenty of other jobs you can get stuck into in February and I would suggest that keeping up with your work schedule will free up time for other tasks come spring proper.

Any winter flowering shrubs can be pruned now when they have finished flowering. Only prune if it is required it isn't essential. Don't be tempted to prune shrubs that are still to flower this spring as you will be cutting off the flowering wood. Roses can be pruned now, I'll cover this in greater detail next week.

Summer large flowering Clematis can be hard pruned back to about 30 centimetres from the ground. These will still flower in the summer as their flower buds form on new growth. You can also hard prune plants that are grown for their ornamental coloured stems like the dogwoods and some willows. These can also be reduced to 30 centimetres above ground.

Ornamental deciduous grasses can be cut to the ground to allow the new sprouting foliage room to come through. If your evergreen grasses have become untidy these can also be cut right back now. This is usually only required every two or three years. Clip your winter heathers as their begin to brown off and keep them nice and compact. Prune climbers away from window and door areas, vermin can often be seen climbing on such plant and can gain access to the house this way.

Finish winter pruning your fruit trees and bushes, these include apples, pears, currants and gooseberries. Don't prune cherries, plums and gages until summer to help deter the fungal disease silverleaf. Autumn fruiting raspberries can be cut down to within 15 centimetres of the ground now. Also finish any other tree pruning before the sap rises causing excessive bleeding. Prune any hedges that were neglected or forgotten last year before the birds start to nest.

Lift and divide herbaceous plants and replant if the soil allows. You can also lift and split snowdrops 'in the green'-with leaves on- and replant. If soil conditions allow you can move shrubs both deciduous and evergreen large or small to new location if the present location doesn't suit. It is usually advisable to cut back larger specimens by half when transplanting to help with the shock of moving.

Rhubarb can be covered with a large pot to create a warm dark environment to force early harvesting, this is also a great environment for slugs and snails so be warned.

First early seed potatoes can be chitted in egg cartons to provide even earlier crops. Stand the seed potatoes on end with the eyes facing upwards in a dry, light, frost free location. Get ready to plant a row on St Patricks day for traditions sake.

Early seed sowing of vegtetables can be done in greenhouses or on window cills. Sweet pea can also be started now, soak the seed over night for better gremination.

Clean your green house or poly tunnel with a disinfectant fluid mix to kill off bugs, eggs and diseases that may have over wintered in the shelter. Clear up your garden shed or garage. Check over the condition of you tools and make sure your chemicals are stored safely in a dry secure place. The same goes for any over wintering power tool fuel. Get fuel powered tools serviced.

Check climbers and trees for secure supports and stakes and ties. Heel in any plants that may have suffered wind rock over the winter. Check decking and paved areas for being slippery. Weed gravel areas to stop early annual weeds seeding down.

Wexford People

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