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February Gardening Tips and Snips

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As the first signs of life are beginning to break through the bleakness of winter, there are plenty of jobs to attend to in February, to prepare for spring. Order your seeds now to avoid disappointment and then sort them to create a sowing calendar through spring.

SOW SEEDS Even though it may seem early, now is the ideal time to start off slower growing half hardy annuals and perennials. Varieties such as pelargonium, begonia and osteospermum may take two to three weeks to germinate, by which time it will nearly be March and there will be better light for longer.

CHIT EARLY POTATOES by standing them on end in a module tray or egg box and place them in a bright, cool, frost-free place.

SPRING CLEAN greenhouses, cold frames and cloches ready to start growing. Warm, soapy water is ideal as it contains no chemicals.

PRUNE late flowering plants and shrubs such as buddleja, hydrangea and fuchsia by reducing them by a third of their height, cutting just above a bud. Trim any winter flowering heathers once flowers fade to avoid them becoming too leggy.

PRUNE CLIMBERS February is the perfect month to prune summer flowering varieties including clematis, wisteria, ivy and jasmine. Mid- to late-summer flowering climbers can be pruned hard so take them back to a strong pair of buds to encourage rapid spring growth. Early summer bloomers can be tidied but avoid hard pruning to preserve any buds.

FEED THE BIRDS as there is very little left for overwintering birds to eat. Keep bird tables and feeders stocked and provide a source of unfrozen water.

PLANT BARE ROOT shrubs and trees but make sure the ground is not frozen or waterlogged. Soak the bare root plants in buckets of water, making sure they are protected from cold winds. Ensure they are well watered until they get established.

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