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February

February

Grow Your Own

In the garden centre this year we are inspiring people with growing projects for beginners and the most expert of gardeners. February is a great time to start your projects in the greenhouse so this month is all about the greenhouse, propagation or using the good old window sill to start your seeds off!

Try Growing Indoors / Greenhouse Using a Propagator or Window Sill

  • Seed Potatoes

  • Vegetables - Tomato and Cucumber seeds can be germinated now. If you fancy something a little more exotic why not try Peppers and Chillies. Aubergines and Melons can also be started now.

  • Sweet peas

The modern trend is turning towards people growing their own seeds and plants as the hobby builds in popularity. Many people try to grow things from seed and fail. There are some simple steps that will help to reduce failures that do not require too much effort and will increase confidence. To get you started here are our tips for growing indoors.

If you own a greenhouse it is advisable on a mild day to empty it out and clean and sterilise it with a plant friendly disinfectant like Jeyes fluid.

Remove any fallen or dead leaves as they harbour fungal diseases. Use a Sulphur candle as these produce a smoke which gets into every nook and cranny and kills any residual fungal spores that may be lurking there. When using chemicals always read the label before use and protect yourself from inhaling any fumes.

Make sure that the pots or seed trays are sterile and are clear of old debris.

Old compost is no good, use fresh only. If you have old bags of compost hanging around in the shed use them as soil improvers instead.

The compost should be a low nutrient one for sowing seeds and taking cuttings. Perlite as a topping is also good as it reflects light upwards under the leaves.

Sow seeds thinly to avoid overcrowding and water in Cheshunt compound, this will avoid fungal attack and damping off.

Propagators and plastic greenhouses should be treated in the same way. If you use a heated propagator use the vents as the condensation build up will exclude light and the seedlings stretch too much. Avoid overheating seedlings in greenhouses as they grow too fast and become soft and botrytis fungus will attack

If you follow these tips you will hopefully have less disasters and more successes which will spur you on to grow more and more. However if you don't get the results you anticipated bring your attempts along to us and we will try to help you work out what went wrong! .

Question

When should I prune my roses?

Answer

If you are talking about Hybrid teas and Floribunda types then a light autumn trim is recommended to reduce the risk of wind rock. The main prune however is best done in February. Hybrid teas and patio types can be really hard pruned to about an inch or two above ground. Floribundas to about 6 inches. Shrub roses can be left alone with little or no pruning, just dead wood removal. Climbers need light pruning of the last years flower stalks and Ramblers need old stems removed. Always prune bushes to outward facing buds to keep the centres open and remove any crossing branches.

Things to do in February

  1. February is a cold month but if you have a heated greenhouse or warm conservatory you can sow tomatoes and early bedding pants.

  2. Plant Lily bulbs in pots for summer displays.

  3. Prune grape vines before the sap rises.

  4. Dig beds and borders to allow the frost to break up clay soils.

  5. Cut back dead growth on herbaceous plants.

  6. Prune wisterias to promote flower buds.

  7. Never walk on your lawn if it is frosty as you will get black footprints when it thaws as it bruises the grass.

  8. Start off your chrysanthemum stools to get early cuttings. Use a rooting powder for soft cuttings.

  9. Seed potatoes can be chitted in a warm place to get the eyes growing.

Plant of the month

Skimmias are often thought of as autumn plants but they still look good at this time of year. There are many varieties including new ones but the two old favourites are still the best in my book.

Skimmia Japonica Rubella is a male plant. It has deep evergreen glossy leaves and produces red flower buds in September. These intensify through the winter and stay red until March or April when they open to white scented flowers. Very few plants give 6 months of colour in this way.

Skimmia reevesiana is a self fertile plant which produces an abundance of red berries which the birds seem to leave alone. It has masses of white flowers in spring with a powerful scent also.

They are extremely versatile plants that need John Innes ericaceous compost in pots or an acid soil in the garden. They can be grown in window boxes or can even be used as centre plants in hanging baskets. They grow best in shady spots as intense sunlight bleaches the leaves.