Lynnette Peck looks at what planting to do in your garden, or on your balcony, at this time of year
Lynnette Peck looks at what planting to do in your garden, or on your balcony, at this time of year.
With spring just around the corner, February is the time to get busy:
- dig soil over, if your garden isn’t too frozen or waterlogged
- turn any compost you have
- tidy up debris on beds and lawns, especially leaves that have been left mulching since November (we are all guilty)
It’s also time to plant vegetables and herbs ready for spring and summer. Growing vegetables is immensely satisfying and healthy of course… does it still count as healthy though if I eat my home-grown cucumbers with a bowl of honey-roasted cashews?
If you only have a small space, then you want a big return from any crops you grow.
- I find that salads are the ultimate crop when space is at a premium: they grow quickly and are full of flavour when home grown. You can grow the equivalent of over 100 supermarket salad bags in one year on one small balcony. Grow them in a pot, trough or grow bag.
- If opting for a pot for vegetable seeds fill a 3in (7.5cm) one with compost (choose compost designed for containers) and water – then scatter seeds, label and pop on your window ledge or balcony to germinate.
- A couple of weeks later seedlings should appear and then, six weeks after that, be big enough to move to a 5in (12.5cm) pot.
I also like to be imaginative with my pots and I don’t just buy black plastic ones.
- I have vintage ceramic pots, old welly boots (good for planting carrots) and painted deep metal tins (great for beans).
- For sowing something bigger, I use big pink plastic trugs (potatoes love them).
You might wonder if it’s still too early, but there are other foods to sow now (February):
- basil, parsley and coriander (on your windowsill)
- cucumber and tomato plants (greenhouse or balcony)
- leeks (start them now under cover)
- sprouting broccoli (harvest in April)
- sweet peppers (grow in a heated greenhouse)
Last but definitely not least, now is the time to chit potatoes on a windowsill (that’s when you encourage them to start sprouting).
Tomatoes are amongst the most rewarding of vegetables to grow as they are easy and size of space doesn’t matter, as long as the spot they grow in is warm and sheltered.
- If growing tomatoes and you find yourself with a ton of green ones, then pop them in a kitchen drawer with a banana – and as if by a miracle they will ripen. Children particularly enjoy participating in this gardening magic show.
- Check seed packets to see which varieties grow best in greenhouses or polytunnels and which are suited to indoors, containers and hanging baskets.
- You can yield about 10lbs worth of tomatoes from one plant so start thinking about tomato-based recipes pronto.
- Plus, plants will keep producing over a few months so they are not a one-month-pony!
My top tip
Buy Blooming Lovely Garden Planner by Caroline Gardner – this folder book has dividers, graph papers, stickers, lined planning pages, seed packets and seed markers to help you plan your garden all year around.