The crisp, sunny days can be a boon to gardeners eager to get to work in the garden, but if the ground’s too hard to dig, or you’re having to knock snow from trees and shrubs, there are plenty of other jobs you could be doing.
What to do with your flowers
- Enjoy seeing bulbs including snowdrops, crocuses and early daffodils emerge, but don’t leave it too long to order summer-flowering bulbs which will need planting in spring
- Deadhead faded flowers on pots of winter-flowering heathers to keep the plant dense, using sharp secateurs.
- If you want plenty of flowers on shrubs including deciduous ceanothus, cotton lavender and hardy fuchsias, cut them back now, as they produce their best show on wood made from spring onwards
- Lift and divide established clumps of winter aconites and snowdrops that aren’t flowering well.
- Perk up your patio with pots of dwarf, early-flowering bulbs such as scillas and daffodils. If you have potted violas and pansies that look pretty tired, don’t worry. They should spring up again next month after a winter break from flowering.
What to do with your fruit and vegetable patch
- Place cloches in position to warm the soil for early sowings of vegetables in March. They should be in place for at least three weeks for the soil to start to warm up
- If the ground is workable, dig over the vegetable plot, incorporating plenty of organic matter to make it ready to sow or plant runner beans or French beans later in the year
- Sow broad beans in a greenhouse – one to a pot – which will produce seedlings ready to be planted out in March, by which time the soil should have warmed up a bit. Other veg you can sow and grow on in the greenhouse include peppers, tomatoes and aubergines.
- If you haven’t already done so, complete winter pruning of fruit trees early this month.
- Cut back all the canes on autumn-fruiting raspberries to ground level. They will then produce new canes and new crops in late summer and autumn
- Sow early peas in a length of plastic gutting filled with compost in the greenhouse. When they are a few centimetres tall, cut out a shallow trench in the soil and slide the peas out of the guttering and into the trench without disturbing the plants. Cover with a cloche if necessary.
- Continue to ‘chit’ early potatoes, placing seed potatoes on a tray or in an egg box on a cool windowsill, so that developing sprouts grow strong
What to do in the greenhouse
- Move dormant fuchsias, heliotropes, hydrangeas and other pot plants on to the greenhouse staging, ideally in a warm spot. Spray them with water on sunny days and give them more water when growth becomes active
- Sow seeds of greenhouse plants such as coleus, gloxinias, tuberous and fibrous begonias in seed trays in a heated propagator
- Check young plants and rooted cuttings regularly and pot them on into bigger pots when their roots fill the container they are in.
What to do with your trees and shrubs
- Start pruning trees, roses, climbers and shrubs that should be cut back in late winter and early spring. New buds are often clearly visible by the end of the month and it’s best to finish winter pruning before spring growth really gets underway
- Towards the end of the month you can prune hardy evergreen shrubs.
- Cut back winter jasmine once it has finished flowering, pruning out dead and diseased stems and tying in new ones.
- Last chance to cut back deciduous hedges before birds start to nest in them.
Start planning for summer
- Order plants now from catalogues specialist nurseries and online retailers as there’s often a cut-off ordering date at the end of the month for young bedding plants even though they may not be delivered for a couple of months
- Plan which summer bedding and bulbs you’ll need and how many, to help you work out how many seeds to sow or bulbs to buy, to minimise waste.
- Keep topping up bird feeders and replenish their water regularly, as water is likely to become frozen overnight and may not thaw in the daytime
- Clean bird feeders and baths on fine days to minimise the risk of disease. Scrub them down with soapy water and a stiff brush to remove debris or buy special bird cleaning equipment from garden centres
- Invest in a couple of RSPB-approved bird boxes to give them good nesting sites in spring
What to do with ponds and pools
- Use a pool heater to keep an area of water ice-free to prevent the build-up of noxious gases
- Sow bog plants such as moisture-loving primulas in seed trays filled with John Innes seed compost. Stand the trays outside on a level site in light shade and allow them to freeze, but protect them from heavy rain. Once they have germinated, place them in a well-ventilated cold frame.
What are you planning to get done in the garden this month? Tell us in the Comments box below.