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Nature blog - Jenny Bourne

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The RPA Nature blog with Jenny Bourne.

Watch the seasons unfold right here at our very own allotments

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February can be an extremely cold month, colder even than December and January. It can therefore present a real dilemma. Should you sow and plant early, in an attempt to get ahead, but risk your seeds failing to germinate or young plants dying because the ground is too cold or too wet? Or should you be patient and wait till the weather warms up, but resign yourself to a slightly later harvest? It’s probably best to hedge your bets and do a little of each.

Broad beans

Sow direct outside if the ground is not frozen hard and indoors in pots if it is still very cold.

Brussels sprouts, kohl rabi, and sprouting broccoli

Sow the first early varieties indoors in deep modules this month. You should be able to plant them out in April or May.

Shallots

Plant shallot sets in a shallow drill about 18cm (7in) apart so that the tips are just showing.

Each individual shallot set that you plant should produce up to ten separate bulbs around mid- to late summer.

Each individual shallot set that you plant should produce up to ten separate bulbs around mid- to late summer.

Peas

In mild areas, sow a few peas outdoors under cloches as long as you have warmed up the soil by covering it in advance.

Radishes

Sow seeds in pots or modules indoors or under cover somewhere where the temperature at night remains at about 5ºC (40ºF).

Rhubarb

Rhubarb can be grown from seed – sown now and transplanted in May – but it’s easier to buy new sets or divide and re-plant old crowns at any time during the winter.

Spinach

For an early crop in April or May, sow a fast-growing variety indoors and plant out in March.

Tomatoes and cucumbers

If you’re raising plants for a greenhouse or polytunnel, sow seeds indoors now. To ensure germination, use a heated propagator and then maintain the temperature at a minimum of 21ºC (70ºF).

Winter salad leaves

Continue to sow salads such as rocket, spinach, kale, chard, mustard, and various Oriental leaves under cover in a greenhouse or cold frame.

Fruit trees and bushes

New, bare-rooted trees and bushes are still dormant and can be planted this month provided the ground is not frozen or too wet. Prepare the site in advance by digging a hole wide enough for the roots to spread out, and check the depth. Once the plant is in position, mulch generously to keep moisture in.

Use a length of wood or a cane laid across the planting hole to check that fruit trees are at the right depth. The graft or “union” joint should be above soil level.

Use a length of wood or a cane laid across the planting hole to check that fruit trees are at the right depth. The graft or “union” joint should be above soil level.

Garlic

Plant cloves of garlic now if the soil is not frozen or waterlogged. Otherwise, wait until next month.

Globe artichokes

Sow in pots and keep in a propagator at a minimum temperature of 18ºC (65ºF) until they have germinated. Keep them indoors until you can harden them off and plant them out in April or May.

Jerusalem artichokes

Plant tubers direct outside in a single row somewhere where the plants won’t overshadow other crops when they reach their full height. Protect with cloches if very cold.

Lettuces

For crops that will be ready to harvest in May and June, sow seeds indoors this month in modules or biodegradable pots. Thin out seedlings and then plant out under cover next month, in cold frames or under cloches or fleece.

Turnips

Sow early varieties outside under cover.

Onions and leeks

To grow from seed, sow in modules and keep indoors at a temperature of 10ºC (50ºF) to give them an early start. Transplant outdoors in March or April.

INDOORS

 

Broad beans

Brussels sprouts

Globe artichokes

Kohl rabi

Leeks

Lettuce

Onions

Peas

Radishes

Rhubarb

Salad leaves

Spinach

Sprouting broccoli

Tomatoes

OUTDOORS

 

Broad beans

Fruit trees and bushes

Garlic

Grape vines

Jerusalem artichokes

Peas

Rhubarb sets

Shallot sets

Turnips

 

 

 

Text and photographs copyright © 2010 Alan Buckingham.

 

Allotment month by month by Alan Buckingham, front cover thumbnail Allotment Month by Month
(Dorling Kindersley, 2009)
Grow Vegetables by Alan Buckingham, front cover thumbnail Grow Vegetables
(Dorling Kindersley, 2007)
Grow Fruit by Alan Buckingham, front cover thumbnail Grow Fruit
(Dorling Kindersley, 2010)