The weather may be bitterly cold, snow may even be on the ground making gardening impossible, but venturing outside and spotting signs that the allotment is beginning to wake from its winter slumber cheers me up no end. Spring bulbs are pushing through and that’s something to smile about. It’s too early to get sowing really underway, although some crops can be started off this month along with those that benefit from a long growing season. A heated propagator or greenhouse will be invaluable to get seeds off to a flying start, but light levels can be a problem resulting in spindly seedlings. If your fingers are itching to get started then have a go at a few early sowings, it’s not the end of the world if you fail – just try again.
Some jobs that can be tackled this month:
- If the ground is not frozen sow hardy broad beans direct such as Aquadulce Claudia, do give them a head start by warming the ground with a tunnel cloche and keep covered until they germinate, sow in pots if conditions are a problem and plant out once the weather warms.
- Plant dormant bare-root fruit trees and bushes if conditions allow
- Chit seed potatoes
- Plant shallot sets and more garlic
- Plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers direct outside, keep in mind that once established it can be difficult to clear the ground they’ve occupied of tubers, the plants grow well over 6 ft high and can create shade. Chose the planting site carefully.
- Force established rhubarb
- Sow onion seed
- Start early sowings of brassicas such as summer cabbages and Brussel sprouts under cover
- Sow long season crops such as leeks tomatoes and chillies
- Sow winter salad in a cold frame
- Sow sweet pea in root trainers
- Finish lifting parsnips if the ground is not frozen
- Finish winter pruning apple and pear trees
- Cut autumn raspberry canes to ground level