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Garden Notes For February 2016

Thanks to lan Currie we have a long-range weather forecast for February.  The first half of the month looks to be dominated by high pressure causing frosts. There may be a few snow showers drifting in from the east. The second half of the month could be milder and wetter.  Overall, it will turn out a near normal month for temperature and drier than average for rain.

Soil is the foundation for all plants in the garden and spending time .in its preparation will bring considerable rewards. Ground that is going to be used for root  crops like carrots, turnips, potato and radish should have a pH of about 7 (neutral).  General fertiliser such as Growmore, or an organic alternative, should be raked in a few weeks before sowing at a rate of about 3-4 ounces per square yard.

In February, if you have well-sheltered places why not try some early broad beans, spaced at 20 em? Young carrots are one of the joys of the garden, try sowing some ‘Early Nantes’ or ‘Amsterdam Forcing’. All the big seed-houses do packs of salad leaves, and these can be grown after starting under glass, since they need a bit more heat than the other crops I have mentioned.  Mini-lettuces like ‘Little Gem’ and ‘Tom Thumb’ may also be started and planted out at I Scm spacing when the plants have developed a bit more.

All these seedlings will need to be protected from frosts- use garden fleece as required, but always allow plenty of air to circulate to stop fungal attack such as botrytis which will cause damping off.

Think about getting seed potatoes in February. There is a wide range to choose from.  First earlies like ‘Lady Christie’ do well here, although to get the fuller flavour of second earlies is always nice -try ‘Nadine’.

Dahlia tubers should be started in gentle heat: towards the end of the month for most of us. The keen exhibitors who want to have blooms for the Summer Show (2 1  st August this year) may want to spend the extra time and mone)’ starting them as early as possible.

Rhubarb clumps should be lifted and divided in February.  Tomato seed should be sown in greenhouses with appropriate heat to get them germinated.

Towards the end of February, start of March, bush roses should be pruned.  Use sharp secateurs. Cuts should not be more than Smm above a bud, and should slope away from it.  Prune ‘die-back’ (identified by a brown core in the stem) to healthy wood.  Remove all dead, diseased stems and burn them. Trace suckers back to the roots from which they are growing and pull them away. Always wear protective gloves, the scratches from rose thorns can be nasty.

That reminds me, everyone, but especially all gardeners, should make sure that they keep their tetanus inoculation up-to-date. It should be done at least once every I 0 years. It is available on the NHS and it really is important to be safe rather than sorry.

CAPEL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY NEWS.       At the recent Committee Meeting, David Hall was re­ elected as Chairman for the coming year. On Sunday I Oth April the Annual Spring Show will take place in Capel Village Memorial Hall. Looking further ahead the Society will be holding its Plant Sale on Saturday 7th  May. If you can grow plants for the event please start planning now, all items gratefully received. At the same time we will be having our Garden Jumble which is an opportunity to buy useful

items and to donate items that no longer fit your requirements.

C.C.

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