Forest Garden

Advice for the gardener


An old weather lore saying for February

There is always one fine week in February and winter’s back breaks in the middle of the month

Fingers crossed for that combination

  • Snowdrops should be flowering, the perfect sign that the garden is beginning to stir from its winter slumber
  • January tasks not completed because the ground was frozen can be finished off once the soil is free of frost
  • February is a good timing to finish off any pruning tasks and particularly anything liable to damage from the upcoming March gales
  • Check all stakes and ties
  • If it does snow, make sure it is knocked off any netting covers as this will damage it.  Also shake it off any fir trees where boughs are weighed down by snow
  • Its probably the last chance to have powered garden machinery serviced
  • Open up greenhouse doors and windows on warm, sunny days.  But remember to close them at night
  • Hyacinth bulbs for indoor flowering can now be brought into warmer rooms
  • Check garden ponds regularly to rake out leaves and other debris
  • Do keep the wild bird feeders fully topped up and ensure there is a supply of fresh water

An overview of February

The weather can swing from warm and sunny to stunningly cold and icy. Half hardy plants still outside need checking and protecting if a cold spell is forecast. All gardening activity this month is governed by the weather, so keep tuned in to the forecasts.

The Greenhouse

Several different flowers and vegetables can be sown in good quality compost in seed boxes and pots. Keep them moist but not soaked. Any large container plants that are over wintering will begin to stir back into life.  Feed and water them on a warm day. Open doors and windows on such days to create a through flow of fresh air BUT remember to close them at night. Check for slugs and other pests.


First earlies that have been chitted in a frost free, light area will be ready for planting outside in preprepared areas. Do not do this if the soil is frosted or cold weather is forecast. Potatoes growing in bags in the greenhouse must be kept moist and weed free.

Stored apples, fruit, onions and shallots

Check regularly for signs of disease and immediately remove any showing symptoms. If they are not too diseased, place damaged apples in the garden where birds will have a good peck at them.

Broad beans

Keep a watchful eye on broad beans that have been planted outside and protect any young shoots with cloches or horticultural fleece at night if really cold weather is forecast. They will be pretty tough but protection against penetrating frosts is necessary. Some people grow seeds of broad beans in pots in unheated greenhouses and these should be hardened off and planted out by the end of the month – unless it is particularly cold.


Early varieties can be planted out towards the end of the month.

Jerusalem artichokes

These are real Marmite vegetables – you either love or hate them. They are boisterous plants and can reach up to two metres in height. If you have never tried them and have a corner of the vegetable garden that is rather shady and where the soil isn’t particularly good quality, now is the time to plant the tubers. If, however, you don’t like them, lift the plants immediately after flowering. Once established they are difficult to remove.


In other than particularly sheltered spots, February is too early to mow and, if possible, keep off the grass if waterlogged.


Make absolutely certain that any diseased leaves that have fallen are collected up. Do not compost them. An application of a rose fertiliser with a high potash content will get the plants in good condition for the upcoming season. Check all ties and labels.


If you have not bought your seeds yet, now is the time. Onion and shallot sets also need to be bought and also second early and even main crop seed potatoes, before the shops and catalogues sell out.