February can be one of the coldest, wettest months of the year, and the last few years here in the UK have been really varied. We have had snow and hard frosts for days in 2021, with the following day the temperature reaching as high as 12 degrees here in Yorkshire. Back in 2019 we had we saw temperatures reach as high as 18c in Yorkshire, and Kew Gardens in London recorded a new record high of 21.2C That been said, it’s more usual for us to experience low temperatures, rain and frosts, especially if the wind is in the east.

The thing to remember when thinking about starting the growing season is the frosts. Last frost dates vary throughout the UK, with the last frost is expected earlier in the north than in the south. These are the guidelines I tend to follow here in Yorkshire to give you an idea, but no two Feburarys are the same and I often adapt to current weather forecasts and local conditions, planting later for example when we have waterlogged ground or if the weather is harsh.

Delicious February Harvests

WHAT CAN WE HARVEST FROM THE ALLOTMENT IN FEBRUARY?

Brussel sprouts, cabbage, parsnips, celeriac, leeks, cauliflowers, swedes, kale, Jerusalem artichokes, hardy lettuces, mizuna, chicory, endive and early sprouting broccoli.

Seeds to sow in February

HERE ARE SOME IDEAS FOR SEEDS YOU CAN START SOWING IN FEBRUARY

Sow Outdoors

SOW OUTSIDE STRAIGHT INTO THE SOIL

Broadbeans can be sown outdoors if the soil is not frozen or waterlogged. They are a delicacy for mice and other hungry animals, though so I always start them undercover in a cold frame or greenhouse.

In the Greenhouse

ALLOW TO GERMINATE INDOORS – THEN TRANSFER TO A COLD GREENHOUSE

You can sow leek & onion seeds now. I sow inside to speed up germination, and once germinated I transfer to cold greenhouse. Towards the end of the month I sow lettuce/salad leaves, spinach, beetroot, turnip, kohlrabi, brussel sprouts, cabbage, globe artichokes, kale, peas for pods and shoots, celery and celeriac

For the herbs, you can sow parsley, chervil, coriander and Florence fennel

Towards the end of the month you can sow marigolds, sunflowers, cornflower, scabious, stocks & poppies. Definitely sow your sweet peas if you haven’t already

Indoors

THESE SEEDLINGS NEED A LITTLE EXTRA WARMTH, SOW THEM INSIDE AND LET THEM GROW ON INSIDE

Chillis, peppers and aubergines all have a very long growing season, so its good to start early. Cover to keep humidity levels up and keep them somewhere warm. Once germinated, give them as much light as possible.

You might see lots of other people sowing tomatoes and cucumber seeds in February with the aid of grow lights/heat mats. Just keep in mind that they are fast growers, and risk becoming leggy if they don’t have enough light, or root-bound if you don’t have enough space to keep them safely indoors until after the risk of frost has passed. Leggy plants aren’t as strong, and being root-bound will slow their growth. It’s best to wait a little longer if you don’t have the extra light and space, they catch up quickly and will be healthier and stronger plants. I wait until mid-March to plant my tomatoes, and until the beginning of April to plant my Cucumbers.

Jobs to do in Feburary

A FEW THINGS YOU CAN BE GETTING ON WITH IN FEBRUARY

Jerusalem Artichokes

Lift your remaining Jerusalem artichokes. Replant next years crop 10-15cm deep, and 30-40cm apart.

Jerusalem artichoke tuber, starting to bud

Cover your soil to warm the ground

Covering the soil where you intend to sow or transplant seedlings will help warm to soil so your plants have a better chance of survival.

Continue to plant bare-root fruit trees and bushes

This is the best time to plant bare-root fruit trees and bushes, before they start to grow again in March

Cut down autumn fruiting raspberries to just above ground level

Now is the best time to cut down your Autumn fruiting raspberries canes, before they start to grow again in March. Cut right back to ground level, and if possible cut on a slight angle to allow any rainwater to run off and prevent rotting.

Turn your compost heap

Give your compost heap a turn, add water if it's dry.

Finish mulching

Finish mulching your plot with manure or compost if its not too waterlogged or frozen. Mulching is generally used to save water, suppress weeds and improve the soil around plants. A good mulch now, will save time watering and weeding later in the season and will provide your plants with the extra nutrients they need to thrive.

Remove yellowing or decaying leaves from brassicas

Slugs and other pests are attracted to decaying matter, and the yellowing and dead leaves may also harbour disease. By removing the dead or yellowing leaves you will keep your plants healthier, and they look tidier too.

Net brassicas to protect from hungry pigeons

Remember to net any brassicas from hungry pigeons

Weed and mulch around fruit trees

Weed and mulch around established fruit trees

Seed potatoes

Buy and chit seed potatoes, but leaving them somewhere light with their eyes facing up

Force some rhubarb

Force rhubarb by covering the crown with something dark to emit light, like an old dustbin or compost darlek

I hope this has been helpful. Is there anything else you do on the allotment in February?