From a gardening point of view, the winter isn’t much fun.
Last weekend was the most time I’ve spent on the garden since the end of autumn, and that was to clean up the mess from the storms. Cleaning up three blown over bins and a damaged greenhouse may take place in the garden, but it’s not gardening.
But now it’s February! I don’t know about you, but this means the new gardening year really kicks in for me. February is when I start to plant new seeds for the year ahead. After the dark nights and being virtually housebound due to covid / the weather, it’s truly uplifting to take the first steps to a summer outside by actually starting some gardening.
After a couple of years of experimenting in our new garden, I’ve got a solid plan for what I’d like to do this year. I’ve learned what my limits / the limits of the garden are, and it’s time to put that knowledge into practice.
My responsibility is the veg, salad and herbs. My wife is a wizard with the flowers, and is also planning a strawberry patch. I have three / four vegetable beds, and two small greenhouses. My plan is to grow:
- Chilli peppers (Jalapeno / Padron)
- Tomatoes (Ailsa Craig / Golden Nugget)
- Potatoes (Second Early / Main Crop)
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Tenderstem Broccoli
- Carrots (Flyaway F1)
- Oregano / Basil / Lemon Coriander / Coriander / Thyme
- Some surprises – come back soon for some more seed details!
The garden is south-facing, but we’re in the west of Scotland so I have to be realistic about the amount of sun we’re going to get. This means that we can plant smaller tomato plants outside, but anything medium sized had to go in the greenhouse. Same with the peppers.
Last year, the broccoli and sugar snap peas were incredibly successful. Apart from rotating the beds, we’ll be doing exactly the same.
So where does February fit in to all of this? Well, this is when we can first start to plant seeds. We need to give plants a long time to mature here because there is less sun than further south. So, from the first weekend in February, the germination begins!
First up was the jalapeno and padron peppers. It’s important to source your seeds from somewhere reliable. Unbranded seeds from eBay are a gamble, and often a complete waste of money. If you get your seeds delivered in a little clear plastic bag, then you don’t know if they’re still viable. Even if you go to the main suppliers, you’re still only talking a couple of pounds per seed packet. It’s a false economy to go cheap.
I made up a seed mix of 50/50 fine compost and vermiculite. This provides the seed with a good balance of air and moisture to get started. I also planted the lemon coriander seeds. These are all plants which will be spending their lives on windowsills or in a greenhouse, so there’s no point at which they’ll have to brave the winter temperatures. Right now, they’re on a heat mat in a large home-made propagator , happily getting started.
From mid-February and throughout March, I’ll be starting on the rest.
In between storms, I was sitting outside preparing the seed compost and the trays. I had a little chiminea burning for the last time. The first storm blew it’s bottom off.
The mere act of being outside and working / planning for the summer months ahead was a joy. Our garden is such a source of happy times for our family. We have the most amazing view of the countryside. The gate to the cow field is literally at the bottom of the garden. When it’s occupied, it’s not unusual to have a curious cow sticking his head over the fence.
We also have family barbeques, birthday parties and relaxing days (my hammock) out there. It is a lot of hard work, but it’s rewarding work. It’s not unusual for me to just stand and look at the garden for ten minutes after a day’s work, such is the sense of wonder generated by our wee plot. The neighbours must think I’m bonkers.
Planting these February seeds is the first definite step on the path to the summer. When you’re planning your trips outside between winter storms, the thought of summer being closer is a good feeling.