We’ve prepared our beds, (have we?), and sown for early spring production. But if you’ve done nothing yet, don’t worry. You can start over from February and you’ll still be able to produce salad and vegetables for the late spring, all summer and into next winter. Sowing starts now.

Or at least, it does when you’ve got a greenhouse or some other sheltered propagation space. If you are sowing direct or anywhere else outside without protection you should wait another 3 weeks. But we have got a greenhouse and so we’re going to be sowing during this session. Mostly we’re sowing frost-hardy vegetables. We’ll start them in modules and then plant them out either next session or perhaps a little later.

We’ll only be sowing small amounts because we only need a few plants and for some species we also want to sow in succession* so that they aren’t all ready at the same time. We’ll be sowing

  • Cauliflower* ‘Early Romanesco’
  • Spring Greens* ‘Early Jersey Wakefield’
  • French Parsley
  • Beetroot* ‘Boltardy’
  • Lettuce* ‘Rocky Top’
  • Lettuce* ‘Little Gem’
  • Salad Onion*   ‘Apache’
  • Spinach* ‘Clarinet’
  • Verbena bonariensis*
  • Pot Marigold*
  • Cleome spinosa*
  • Chilli ‘Long Red Slim’
  • Chilli ‘Gusto Purple’

The other main job in the Kitchen Garden this February is to install a seep hose irrigation system. Consistent watering helps plants reach their full potential. Cheap seep hoses are available from B&Q and other outlets and if you have a tap near your plants can be a really good investment – £6 for 10m with fittings. If you are cultivating an allotment of course you’ll just have to get there as often as you can… At home beds and boxes can usually be managed with a watering can. But it does make holidays complicated.

We will be installing ‘Leaky Pipe‘ which is a more consistent product and delivers around 4 litres of water per metre per hour. Eventually this will be controlled by a timer. But we don’t put the timers out until we start watering – they’re not frost-hardy. We need to lay the hose now, though, as the bed is already filling up and we need space for the hose before the plants cover it.

There is also work to be done both on the Hot! border – where we need to cut the giant reed down to the ground and mulch Cannas, Gingers and Bananas with rotted manure, and in the new perennial border where all last year’s growth and seed heads needs to be removed.

salad basket