Get growing edibles in February
Find out which delicious veg and fruit you can grow and harvest this month, with Rosie Yeomans
At last, the end of winter is in sight and for those of us fruit and veg growers, that means things are about to get busier. In February, you can start making outdoor sowings and preparing for the coming months.
Below are some of the crops I'll be thinking about this month.
More fruit and veg gardening advice:
February fruit and veg inspiration
Rosie's jobs for this month:
The first outdoor sowings of the year can start with broad beans. I sow the bulk of them in February and a few more in March. If you put some in last autumn they’ll be the first to harvest but the February sowings soon catch up. I prepare the seed bed with plenty of extra composted manure raked over the surface. Sow the seed 5cm deep and 7 or 8cm apart. You’ll need to support the crop either using post and line supports in tram lines or horizontal netting pulled taut on canes. Broad beans are hardy but be prepared to pull some fleece over the seedlings if heavy frosts are forecast.
Chit your early potatoes ready for planting. I love doing this, it’s another one of those jobs that heralds the new growing season. Stand the seed potatoes upright in boxes, egg boxes are ideal. Make sure you get them the right way up, I look for the shrivelled stem at the base that sits in a slight depression, it’s that end down. Place them in bright light, somewhere frost free but cold. They’re ready to plant in about 6 weeks when the chits are 2cm high. I always chit the earlies, it gets them to harvest a little faster but I don’t worry so much about the maincrop, they have plenty of time to grow over many more weeks. Plan to plant from mid to late March depending on where you are in the country.
Lift a few strawberry plants out of the veg patch and bring them into the greenhouse to stimulate some growth and get the tastiest early fruit to put on your breakfast. Strawberries need some cold before they flower, so don’t be tempted to lift them earlier. They can be potted into multi purpose compost but keep the crown well above the surface or they’ll rot. Snip off any damaged leaves, give them some water and put them on the greenhouse bench. They’ll perk up fast and produce flowers way ahead of the outdoor plants but do leave some vents open during the day for pollinators. I stick with strong reliable and tasty croppers like 'Elsanta' and 'Cambridge Favourite' for this job.
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Put some covers on your seed bed to warm it up ahead of sowing next month. I tested different covers a few years ago and found that clear glass is easily the warmest but clear polythene wasn’t far behind. Cardboard and dark covers only make a small difference. So I rake some dark organic matter into the surface to aerate it. The air pockets you’ve made in the soil warm up much faster and the darker surface absorbs more heat. Pull a clear cover over the bed and the soil will be a couple of degrees higher in a month or so; ready to sow the first crops of spinach, beetroot, parsnips and salad leaves.