In favorable areas late winter can be almost spring-like, especially in a mild period, but don’t be lulled into sowing and planting outdoors too soon. If the weather turns cold, seeds will not germinate, and seedlings and plants may receive such a check to their growth that they do not do as well as those sown or planted later. Concentrate your efforts on indoor sowing, but make the most of frames and cloches, too, for early crops.
One way of getting plants off to an early start (tomatoes and lettuces, for example) is to sow them in small plastic containers, clearly labelled, in a heated greenhouse. This means that when the spring temperatures do pick up, they can be moved outside, under cloches especially at night when the temperatures can suddenly drop.
This is also a good time to check the vegetable garden, forking out the roots of perennial weeds. Also continue breaking up heavy lumps on clay soil. If left, the soil will take much longer to heat up in the spring, and the seeds will find it extremely difficult to get off to a flying start.
Preparations for the flower garden
– Plant climbers,
– Mulch beds and borders, especially after a night of heavy rain,
– Insulate the cold frame for extra protection against the coldest weather,
– Sow sweet peas,
– Pinch out tips of fall-sown sweet peas,
– Tidy up the rock garden and apply fresh stone chippings where necessary,
– Check labels on shrubs and border plants and renew it necessary,
– Lay a new lawn from turf, provided the ground is not frozen nor waterlogged.
In the greenhouse and conservatory:
– Take chrysanthemum cuttings,
– Pot up chrysanthemums rooted earlier,
– Take dahlia cuttings,
– Sow seeds of bedding plants and pot plants,
– Prick out seedlings sown earlier,
– Increase ventilation on warm days,
– Make sure the glass is clean so that the plants receive plenty of light,
– Clean all pots and trays in readiness for saving spring seed,
– Clean all garden tools, scraping off mud, and oil the wood of spades and forks.