If you always feel like you don’t have enough time for gardening, or just need some guidance on what to focus on each month, this is the series for you! Read on for tips and ideas on quick gardening jobs for February.
While January was a low-input month in the garden, we spent a lot of time planning, sketching and dreaming. The kids chose what to grow in their plots and I sorted out my seed order. Now the end of winter is temptingly in sight, it’s definitely time to get cracking on some quick gardening jobs!
What to do in the garden in February
For me, gardening in February is a combination of planning for spring, and getting a head start on garden jobs that will pay dividends later in the year. Here’s my February gardening to do list.
Add instant colour with containers
The first job on my February garden to do list is to basically cheer myself up with a container display.
Containers are a brilliant way to cheer up an otherwise drab garden at this time of year. They’re also quick to plant, making them ideal for time-poor gardeners. You can create a lovely low-cost display with pansies, violas or primroses; consider also adding in a foliage plant such as ivy to bulk things out and provide structure.
Containers are perfect for gardening with children too, because the smaller scale is easy for little hands to manage.
Prepare for potato planting
You might be of the opinion that you need lots of room to grow potatoes, and it’s certainly true that growing them in rows, allotment-style, will give you a bumper crop. But it’s also really easy to grow potatoes in bags or containers, which is ideal for small gardens or dipping a toe into growing your own.
February is too early for potato planting, but it’s not too early to start thinking about which variety you’d like to grow. I would recommend choosing a ‘first early’ variety, as these take the shortest amount of time to produce a crop and will be ready to harvest around June. *First earlies are also what we traditionally think of as super-tasty ‘new’ potatoes.
Now is also the perfect time to start hoarding cardboard egg boxes. It sounds a bit bizarre and unrelated to growing potatoes, I know, but bear with me! Seed potatoes need to be ‘chitted’ (essentially, left in a cool place to start sprouting) before you plant them, and egg boxes make the perfect holders.
You can start chitting early cropping varieties of potato from the end of January. You’ve got a bit longer with varieties that crop later in the summer, so if you haven’t bought any yet don’t panic. Make sure you pick them up fairly soon though.
Once you’ve got your seed potatoes, check out my step-by-step guide to growing potatoes in bags.
Tidy up Hellebores
Hellebores are brilliant plants for your late winter garden. They have beautiful tactile flowers and lovely foliage, and they make good cut flowers too.
If you’ve got hellebores in your garden, now is the time to make sure you can see this year’s flowers at their best. To do this, you simply need to remove any old leaves from each plant. Look out also for leaf spot, removing any leaves that have round brown spots on them.
If you don’t have any hellebores, but I’ve convinced you to add some to your garden, you should be able to buy them in garden centres and *online during February. Hellebores will tolerate most conditions, but they love a well-drained spot that’s not in direct sunlight. As with all winter interest plants, I think it’s a good idea to plant them where you can see them from the house if possible. Chances are you won’t be venturing outside often at this time of year, and doing this means you’ll get maximum enjoyment from the lovely blooms.
Garden tool maintenance
Spring planning isn’t just for the plants; your gardening tools are probably in need of some attention too. This is one of those gardening tasks that tends to get neglected, but keeping your tools in good condition will extend their life and also make them safer to use. It may sound like a boring job, but I find it can actually be quite therapeutic, and a great opportunity to keep your hands busy whilst freeing up your mind to daydream.
For a quick maintenance session, focus on sharpening blades on things like spades and secateurs (a *sharpening tool is best for this), cleaning handles and treating any rust patches. This is also a great time to make a note of anything you need to replace. My post on garden tool maintenance covers this job in more detail.
Plan this year’s garden to do list
If you haven’t already, take advantage of the fact that not much is happening outside at the moment to plan what you’re going to grow or change in the garden this year. A trip to the garden centre, an hour spent with a seed catalogue, or some time browsing online will give you lots of ideas and inspiration. As well as being fun, it will mean you’re ready to get cracking when the weather decides to co-operate. If you’re gardening with children, this is an ideal activity to get them involved with, perhaps they could have a little plot of their own and decide what they’d like to grow. My two love doing this!
While you’re in planning mode, take a minute to look at your garden from the house. If you can see lots of bare borders and not much else, then add some plants for winter interest to your wish list. I’m guilty of vowing every January to add more interest to the garden for next winter, then forgetting all about it until it’s too late. This year will be different!
What’s on your list for quick gardening in February?