February can be a bit of a time in limbo on the vegetable plot with unpredictable weather and most activity going on in the roots underground out of sight. There are still activities you can be getting on with this month however to satisfy your need for growing and keeping green-fingered.
It’s an opportune time to start crops off early if you have a shed or greenhouse and to keep the soil happy through the rest of winter for an effective head-start later in the season.
The Marshalls Team
Jobs to do
On clear days dig the soil over on your plot especially if it is particularly clayey. Chopping up dense clods opens the soil and exposes grubs overwintering in the soil. A much-appreciated treat for robins and other songbirds. Incorporate some rich compost like Jack’s Magic to replenish nutrients.
Rain or shine sow seeds indoors of crops like tomatoes and chillies. Sowing now means that you get harvests a few weeks earlier and you get to enjoy sowing seeds in February, a time when gardening outdoors may not be possible on account of the weather. Invest in a propagator for great results.
Give a home a relaxing and welcome boost with houseplants. Plants improve your mood, help filter the air in your home for better breathing and they look too. Many need little looking after and with watering indicators you know when and how much you need to water.
Give garden birds like robins and blue tits high-energy seed mixes and fat products like energy balls. Feed them now and they stick around from spring feeding on the caterpillars and grubs that munch their way through succulent leaves of your favourite crops.
Your overwintering strawberry can be induced into producing fruit earlier in the summer if you give them a little protection now. Choose from horticultural fleece, fleece tunnel or individual cloches which look decorative as well as completing the task in hand.
Give your spring cabbage and spring greens a helping hand by giving them a welcome boost of fortifying feed high in nitrogen. We recommend Marshalls Brassica Feed with NPK (nitrogen: potash: potassium) 27:6:6. Just sprinkle around the cabbage patch and rake it into the soil lightly.
Top crops to plant and sow now
Turn up the heat with chilli peppers
Chilli Moruga - Trindad scorpion variety not for the faint-hearted. It’s hot and also very ornamental.
Chilli Lancer - Hot and smoky in flavour. With upright red fruit making for a dramatic yet compact plant.
Chilli Machu Pichu - Rare brown-black peppers with a rich, smoky flavour on tall plants reaching 90cm (3ft).
Recipe - Vegetable smokey chilli tacos
- 150ml natural yoghurt/soured cream
- 100g cheese – to grate
- 1 red chilli or smoky brown chilli or green chilli
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 onions
- 1 tin sweetcorn
- 2 handfuls of frozen vegetables
- 1 pack taco shells
- Dash of red wine/Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tins chopped tomatoes
- ½ tsp paprika
Fry chilli, onions and garlic in olive oil until they soften and look glassy.
Add to this the tomatoes, the paprika, wine/Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add frozen vegetable and sweetcorn and let cook slowly in the tomato sauce.
Season to taste, fill the taco shells and top with yoghurt/soured cream and cheese.
Watch out for pests and diseases - Cats
Cats can be a pest to your plot if you want to encourage birds into your garden and don’t care for cat mess on your plot. If you find cats a problem in your area there are repellents that keep them away without harming them, leaving you with peace of mind and your plot fully productive.
Use a Prickle Strip Dig Stopper near where to you are growing your prize plants – be they crops or ornamentals. Other deterrents, especially near ponds, include orange peel – unsightly yet effective.
Carrot Charisma - Be in with a chance of winning up to £75 by growing and showing
The new carrot on the block and the Grow & Show variety for 2019. With every order of carrot Charisma you’ll get full details of how to enter the competition for your chance of winning £75 and visiting a show for exhibiting.
Charisma is a late maincrop carrot with a large shoulder, resistant to greening, and attractive triangular root. Great for growing in pots. 300 seeds in every packet.
National Nestbox Week (14-21 February)
Recruit some helpers in your garden or plot this season with garden birds, happy to feed on caterpillars and grubs and reduce pest attack on your favourite crops.
National Nestbox Week is an initiative to help bird families by providing homes and shelters. A blue tit baby can consume up to 100 caterpillars in one day – think of the crops this saves and encourage garden birds to breed on your plot with nest boxes.