You can do anything for 15 minutes. Jobs with this symbol can all be tackled 15 minutes at a time (you’ll need a little longer for the others). Here are the jobs I’m focusing on this month, and a #15greenmins checklist that you can print out: February #15greenmins checklist – or make your own to suit your garden!
In the flower garden
Weed herbaceous borders and remove soggy leaves/stems
Keep on top of those weeds; if you turn a blind eye now, you’ll regret it later. Don’t tidy up too much as the dead stuff acts as a winter duvet to your plants and a refuge for overwintering wildlife, but remove any soggy material to prevent rotting.
Prune hardy trees and evergreen hedges
Now is the last chance to cut these back before the sap starts rising and the birds start nesting.
Cut back summer-flowering shrubs and climbers
Use sharp secateurs to cut back Hydrangea paniculata, Buddleia, summer-flowering Clematis, Wisteria and rose bushes before spring growth appears. Bare stems make the job much easier. As well as reshaping, remember to remove any damaged or diseased wood and crossing or rubbing stems.
Tidy ragged bedding plants and winter pot displays, and apply a booster feed
Cut back faded blooms and seed heads of pansies, violas and other winter bedding plants, and give tired displays a booster feed of fertilizer (see Pansy makeover).
Plant bare-root roses and hedges
If the soil is not too wet or cold, this is an economical way of establishing new roses, creating new hedges or filling the gaps in hedges while the plants are dormant.
Check stakes and plant ties on climbers
Make sure old plant ties are not restricting growth – loosen if necessary to allow for new Spring growth. Replace broken ties and check stakes before plants start growing more vigorously.
Take root cuttings of perennial plants
For herbaceous perennials with fleshy or knobbly roots (e.g. Oriental poppies, Japanese anemones), uncover several roots and remove them as close to the crown as possible. Cut into lengths of 2.5-5 cm and replant around the edges of a pot in compost and grit.
Sow annuals and tender perennials
Check seed packet sowing times to start annuals and perennials indoors or in a heated greenhouse.
In the vegetable garden
Prepare vegetable beds for spring sowings
Remove weeds and dig in some well-rotted compost. Repair raised beds. If you want to warm the soil in preparation for early spring sowings, cover beds with a plastic sheet.
Sow vegetable seeds
Sow vegetable seeds (e.g. tomatoes) to germinate indoors or in a heated greenhouse. See packets for sowing times.
Buy seed potatoes
Chit on a window sill (old egg boxes make great chitting containers) ready for spring planting.
Plant shallot sets
Shallot sets can be planted a lot earlier than onion sets. Plant in well-spaced rows in a sunny well-drained spot, with the papery tips just visible.
In the fruit garden
Prune and fruit trees and bushes
Prune apple, crab apple and pear trees while they are dormant, between leaf fall and bud burst, to maintain an open structure and remove any diseased or damaged branches. It is also the ideal month to prune grape vines and blueberry and gooseberry bushes etc.
Cut autumn-fruiting raspberry canes
Cut autumn-fruiting raspberry canes to the ground to stimulate new canes. You can also cut the tips of summer-fruiting raspberry canes now, just above a bud, if they have grown above your supports.
Plant bare-root raspberry and blackberry canes
Raspberries and blackberries are best planted as bare-root canes any time between late October and early March. Try to avoid planting if the ground is frozen or waterlogged though.
Protect non-hardy plants from frost and snow
Keep an eye on the weather forecast (anything can happen in February) and protect non-hardy plants with fleece or by bringing them indoors or into the greenhouse.
Clean/tidy pots, organise your shed and order fresh supplies. Decide what you’re going to grow in 2020; bin out-of-date seed packets and order new ones.
Ventilate greenhouses and cold frames
Open up greenhouses and cold frames on dry days to prevent build up of mildew and other nasties.
Remove debris from ponds
Remove fallen leaves and other floating debris to prevent it from decomposing in your pond and sinking to the bottom, where it’s more difficult to remove.
Keep off frozen lawns, but if the weather is mild you may be able to give the grass a light trim with the blades on the mower set high. Trim and shape the edges too.
Clear snow from paths and branches
If the snow and ice arrive, use sand, bird seed or sawdust on icy paths; avoid using salt, as it can damage plants. Clear heavy snow from branches if it is likely to damage/break them.
Feed the birds
Keep your bird tables and feeders topped up. Your birds really need your help at this time of year. Make sure they have access to clean, fresh water too.