February Review

February saw a few new structures built in the garden: namely a storage unit behind the shed and strawberry planters on the roof of one of the woodstores. Otherwise, the changes have been fairly subtle: the young borders are a little tidier: some weeds removed, winter stems cut down to the ground on sedums and eryngium which are already showing strong new growth from the base.

End of February view of border from patio

While our young borders are still sparse at this time of year, snowdrops have danced along the edge of this border through the month, and more were added in the green along the inner edge of the young beech hedge out the front, where our first daffodils have bloomed cheerfully for a week or two. There are still a handful of snowdrops flowering around the garden and the display from the primroses is unwavering, but the next few weeks will belong to the daffodils and hopefully a few crocus: around the back garden shoots and buds of later varieties are breaking through already.

Field border, end of February

In the kitchen garden, we cleared the last of the crops and laid down plastic to warm the beds. The second row of garlic, the softneck variety ‘Solent Wight’ planted late in the year, has broken through the ground alongside the autumn-planted row of hardneck ‘Sprint’. Errant summer raspberry canes popping up between rows were dug out and planted back in line, and the whole patch weeded, while the rows of strawberries in front still require some attention.

Raspberry patch and part of kitchen garden, end of February

We removed plants, tools and cabbage frames temporarily from the greenhouse to scrub the glass thoroughly with disinfectant, sealed up any large gaps between panes that we could find, and burnt a sulphur candle overnight. This should hopefully rid us of the red spider mite infestation that decimated our cucumbers last year. It was rather eerie to watch the greenhouse fill with smoke as dusk fell.

Smoke filled greenhouse as sulphur candle burns before dusk

For a few days, the house was filled with trays of newly sown seeds and seedlings rescued from the greenhouse until the smoke cleared. The cats have been romping in and between the enviromesh frames, which must now be put away again to prevent damage until we need their protection for our crops.┬áNow the greenhouse is ready for action – and already home to a few early sowings, along with overwintering verbascum seedlings, pelargoniums and agapanthus.

Empty vegetable bed and fumigated greenhouse

Just a little more tidying up inside, some caterpillars of moss to prise from the north side of the roof, and the earth to be dug over and enriched, and the greenhouse will be ready for the growing season ahead.

Thanks to the Patient Gardener for hosting this monthly review of the garden.

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28 thoughts on “February Review

  1. I really like this time of year. The clearing away the cobwebs, sometimes literally, and getting everything prepared for the season ahead. You sound very organised. Just as I think I’m on top of everything I remember something else I need to do. You’ve reminded me I need to weed around and tidy up my own strawberries.

    • We’ve never been so organised; the last few years we have been working so hard on the house that we never got around to preparing things outside properly. It may be a one-time event! :) It is quietly satisfying to have almost everything stripped back and tidy before it all leaps into growth.

  2. It’s a busy time of year isn’t it – lots to do and still be done – your list of jobs carried out is practically the same as mine – looking forward to reading how your garden progresses through the year.

    • Heh. Yes we never did get around to moving our table and chairs up onto the patio for the winter to minimise damp soaking up from the ground. Ah well…

  3. It does feel like a beginning doesn’t it? I love seeing the new growth on the perennials and the bulbs peeking through. I’m talking about alliums and eremurus which I noticed have some growth coming up through the mulch.
    I cleaned our greenhouse out in the autumn so that we can overwinter some plants in pots. But now I have hardly any room for seed sowing… Your plot does look as if its thriving and you have reminded me that I still have raspberry canes to tie in, a job the pruner (P) omitted to do……

    • Yes, allium shoots have been up for weeks, along with long thin leaves on the saffron crocus, which won’t bloom till the autumn. I can see growth at the base of several of the perennials; I’m particularly watching the pink shoots on the dicentras (lamprocapnos) at the minute, and wondering whether all the bare roots that I planted in the autumn will spring to life – and where I put them! :)

  4. Early signs of spring really do lighten a gardener’s heart. Well done for fumigating your greenhouse, I need to find where I can buy these and some form of disinfectant to use. Christina

    • We don’t tend to use anything toxic in the garden if we can help it; I hope that the disinfectant and sulphur didn’t harm too many other overwintering creatures but red spider mite are notoriously difficult to dislodge from a greenhouse.

  5. It’s starting, isn’t it? Hooray!

    I’m sure your greenhouse-fumigating efforts will be rewarded – it certainly looks thoroughly satisfying and effective. If I was a red spider mite, I’d be gone…

    • Yay for spring!
      I hope the fumigating works; not something we really wanted to do, fingers crossed we won’t need to resort to that again!

  6. lots done and lots going on Sara, can I be nosey what are the beautifully pruned and trained plants in the foreground of the last Photo? I’m very impressed,

    I saw your comment on Helen’s blog about bulbs and heavy soil, sitting bulbs on a good bed of grit or sand helps and I’ve found putting more sand around and on top of the bulb before covering with soil helps a lot, my tulips have re grown for several years, Frances

    • Thanks Frances. Those are our double-U cordon pear trees (one Conference, one Beurre Hardy) that we bought a few years’ ago from a well-known online nursery! We can’t take credit for the training ourselves, as they arrived in their beautiful shapes, we’ve just been pruning them lightly to maintain that shape and give us fruit. Last year we had lots of juicy pears.
      Thanks for the tips on giving tulip bulbs a headstart in our heavy soil, we’ll try adding sand or grit in future more organised years!

  7. My garden beds are sparse at this time of year as well, but I see signs of life. Many of the plants are breaking ground or leafing out. And everything is early…we are having an early spring.

    • It is calming having emptier beds during winter – I tell myself. Rest for us and the garden. Very exciting to watch the little signs of life appearing everywhere.

  8. Sara, already your garden looks more mature than it is with a feeling of settlement lingering over it and its place in the landscape. Strawberry planters are a great idea – a living fruity roof

    • Thank you Laura. Looking forward to a gardening year with less structural changes – although I’ve a few more borders to reclaim from the garden yet!

    • Thanks, we can’t take the credit for the formative training of the pears, but they do make a great divider between the ornamental and kitchen garden, along with the apples that we are espalier-training ourselves around the raspberry patch.

  9. You have shamed me with your greenhouse cleaning. I wash the inside of mine a couple of times a year but its not very thorough.

    Thanks for joining in again, I look forward to seeing your beds filling out

    • If it makes you feel better, this is only the 2nd time I’ve washed the glass in 3 years – and the 1st time with detergent, or indeed that we’ve fumigated it! Given the state it was in when we moved here, it was long overdue.

  10. ohhhhhh I have greenhouse envy!

    I’ve just seen your comment re captcha over at Karen’s. I hope you don’t mind that I’ve copied it to put in the comments over at mine as I’ve written about the Blogger captcha experience today and wondered how OpenId was working with WP commenters.

    I’ll link to you and hopefully it’ll get others to add to the debate over at mine…

    • We were lucky and inherited the greenhouse with the house. It was full head to toe with greenery when we arrived, mostly from bindweed! Does us sterling service now though.

      You’re welcome to add my comment to your post, I look forward to catching up on it later today. The change that stopped my wordpress/openid login being able to leave comments on Blogger blogs with word verification has been driving me mad for weeks.

  11. I’ve just come back from an exploration of Blogger’s Help Forum. There’s plenty of issues raised re this problem, with very little sign of it actually being dealt with :(

    I’ve added my tuppence worth, but don’t hold your breath :(

    • You would think they would recognise that it’s in their best interest to sort it out before they start to lose users to other blog platforms.
      Well done for trying though, and raising awareness – somebody somewhere will surely pay attention one of these days.

  12. Exhausted after reading your post Alison :) I’m way behind at the moment but keep tell myself I will get there eventually. Smiled at your lovely description of “caterpillars of moss” on the greenhouse roof – I’ve got them too.

    • (Oops – it’s Sara! :) ) We got a surprising amount done last month, we’re making the most of any free weekends we can as they’ll start to clutter up again soon with other plans – a few days of leave from work helped too.

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