Green shoots!

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Sweet Pea seeds should be soaked in tepid water overnight before planting - this speeds up their germination.

A Gardener: “someone with patience, belief in the future and 15 spare minutes!"

Growing plants is not pure science but rather a combination of botany, meteorology, experience and a little slice of luck! Many new to gardening in 2020 found that they didn't need the Greenfingers they had always sought, they just needed 15 spare minutes to add a little water, sprinkle food or tie back a rapidly growing shoot. Given time, everything else can follow. It seems we will all have time on our hands this spring, whilst we wait for the vaccine to be distributed, so make use of a little of it every day to spend time with plants.

February is a great time to start sowing seeds inside and it doesn't require a greenhouse or even a propagator as a bright, warm windowsill will be fine. When the weather warms up to 10°C+ you will be able to plant your young plants in your garden, veg plot or planter. To get you started here are a few edibles from my February sowing list: Cucumbers, Celery, Chillies, Onions & Peppers. I would hold back at the moment from sowing things like Tomatoes or Peas on the windowsill as they grow quickly and you may struggle to cope with the jungle! But a gently heated greenhouse is perfect for getting them growing. You can also grow herbs and salads such as lettuce on the windowsill, cut and use regularly and you have a fresh feast at your fingertips.

Early sowing need not be limited to edibles as there are a number of flowers that can be started now. Busy Lizzies, Cosmos and Salvias. I had great success last year with Sweet Peas and will be sowing lots of different varieties this month.

Other tasks for February include cutting back anything woody or out of shape. I'll be giving the lavender alongside my conservatory a good trim this month. Clean decks and patios - a vigorous scrub down with a brush is as good a workout as going to the gym and it removes any algae that will have built up in the winter. Keep birdfeeders topped up as natural food and berries are in short supply now.

Boyd Douglas-Davies, February 2021

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