Well, we really have seen the lot this time, a winter with teeth. A run of deep frost, plenty of wet, high winds and flurries of snow. We have had some very bleak moments, but the new season calls. We need to get our act together and make a start on sorting for spring. In just seven weeks the clocks move forward. There is much we can be doing and preparing. Garden Centres all have their seed potatoes in. Whilst there is no panic to start them in the ground the best selection is to be found early and you can have some fun trying a few new varieties. You might just surprise yourself and find something that works better on your ground. Of course if you have some shelter, you can always try a few early ones in pots. Onion sets, garlic and shallots are also about and these can be planted immediately.
Of course there is plenty of seed and at this time, I do like to start something off, even if it’s only a pinch of lettuce in a pot. If the enthusiasm is there, all sorts can be started in cool shelter. Much of the leaf veg will germinate quickly, as will some of the old fashioned bedding subjects. Love in the Mist, Cornflowers and Old fashioned Marigolds are quite happy starting cool. Also to be found around the centres are the first summer bulbs, Begonias, Dahlias, Gladioli, Lilies, Nerines and Crocosmia are all about and as with the spuds worth getting in if you want choice.
Dahlias can actually be started up inside and then stripped for cuttings at the end of March. The cuttings root easily (even in water) and if you fancy a deep bed of Dahlias this is a cheap way to fill it up.
Outside, weather permitting you can top dress standing ground with a bit of lime to break it up and run a bit of manure around soft fruit. The raspberries in particular will be appreciative. If you do have gaps in the fruit, root wrapped plants will be around for another month as will bare root hedging. In fact if you are considering planting contained or bare root trees and shrubs February into March is the time. Plants are about to come to life and will romp after planting.
And finally, turn a bucket or an old dustbin over your rhubarb. Its just beginning to show and when forced in darkness is so much better to harvest. A real delicacy.