Start sowing in February
Discover the gorgeous flowers and delicious veg you can start from seed this month, with Sally Nex
This is it! The long winter wait is over. I won’t promise the frost and rain is behind us, exactly, but you can almost smell the spring from here. That means it’s just about safe to sow again – mainly greenhouse crops and bedding plants for now, just to give them the head start they need – but it’s enough to get those green fingers moving once more and the season under way.
February seed sowing inspiration
Plants featured in this video
It’s said there are over 10,000 different varieties of tomato in the world, so I doubt I’ll run out of new ones to try any time soon. I’ve grown aromatic, juicy beefsteaks, meaty heirloom Italian plums, tiny sweet cherries in trusses so heavily-laden they nearly break the plant – and I’m still discovering new favourites every year. Start with a reliable standard salad tom like ‘Ailsa Craig’, then pick out something unusual, just for fun – you never know what you might find!
Veg don’t get much easier to grow than Jerusalem artichokes. Just one or two tubers planted now quickly multiply into a clump of very tall, straight stems topped with cheery yellow sunflowers in summer. Dig up your harvest of knobbly, nutty tubers in winter, leaving some behind to resprout for next year’s supplies. Jerusalem artichokes are however famous for causing flatulence, so acclimatise yourself to them gradually by eating just a little to start with.
I grow my sweet peas up hazel wigwams, letting them burst into a glorious jumble of perfume and flowers. But if you want long, strong, straight stems and larger flowers for cutting, train each plant straight up its own support, pinching out all side branches and tendrils as it grows. However you grow them, it’s important to deadhead regularly so the flowers keep coming – a second batch sown in June keeps you in jam jars of sweetly-scented flowers till autumn.
You can sow lots of summer bedding from seed – it’s much cheaper, you get loads more plants, and it’s better for the environment than buying ready-grown plug plants too. I sow French marigolds every year: I fill summer containers with them for a cheerful splash of sunshiney flowers, then plant them en masse under my tomatoes in the greenhouse. Whitefly really hate their distinctive smell, so it’s a great pest deterrent.