Stephanie's Kitchen Garden Diary February 2014

Stephanie's Kitchen Garden Diary - 26th February 2014

Spring has well and truly sprung in Stephanie’s Kitchen Garden this month. We’ve been enjoying some mild temperatures and the sun has come out at last.   We’ve had very few frosts and the garden is beginning to awaken from its winter sleep. The birds have been enjoying the new feeding stations and, on sunny days, they are showing their appreciation by filling the air with birdsong. We’ve even seen our first bee!

Jo has had a very busy month. She has dug over the beds where the potatoes and brassicas will grow this year and added plenty of well rotted manure. The vegetable cage has been moved to the new brassica bed and the soil has been covered with polythene to help it warm up ready for planting later in the spring.

The wet winter has created an algae problem this year. Jo has been up the ladder cleaning it off our pear arch and fruit cage using hot soapy water and they now look like new. We are investigating organic preventative measures for algae as I’m sure it is going to be a problem for many gardeners this year. We will keep you informed of our progress.

We’ve fed our garlic crop and fruit bushes with sulphate of potash this month. The fruit trees have also had their final winter wash and we’ve replaced the glue bands on their trunks and stakes. As soon as their leaves begin to unfold we will begin feeding them weekly with a foliar feed of epsom salts which will encourage strong, pest-resistant foliage. Jo likes to have a different sprayer for each of the feeds, clearly labelled to prevent mistakes.

It’s amazing what difference a year makes in the kitchen garden. Last February we had snow and freezing temperatures and our over-wintering crop of broad beans and spring cabbages were looking very sad. This year could not be more different. The spring cabbages are looking really good and our broad beans are growing rapidly – we even have flowers on some plants already!

We have been very busy seed sowing in the greenhouse this month. Earlier in the month we sowed our tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, brussel sprouts, broccoli, celery, celeriac, rocket and salads in the heated propagator. We also have a growlight set up to ensure the seedlings have the best growing conditions. This week we also sowed more broad beans and sweet peas in root trainers. Outside we have sown early carrots, early peas and leeks.   Phew! What a productive month! I find nothing lifts the spirits more than sowing seeds on a sunny spring day.

In the greenhouse we have planted some early potatoes in bags to force as an extra early crop. We also moved pots of thyme and mint into the greenhouse to give them a head start. If you are growing extra early potatoes, you need extra early mint on hand too! The rest of our seed potatoes are chitting in seed trays ready for planting out in late March.

It is always one of my favourite times of year, when the first spring days bring the garden back to life after a long winter. I relish the promise of a new growing year, with its challenges and successes, and can’t wait to see our beds packed with beautiful vegetables once more.

Here are some of the jobs we've got planned for March in Stephanie's Kitchen Garden:

- Clear debris quickly to keep the garden tidy and prevent pests and diseases from over wintering.

- Divide mint plants to kee them invigorated.

- Plant potatoes.

- Plant onion sets.

- Net Strawberry plants before they flower.

- Prick out February's seedlings and pot them on ready to go into the cold frame in April.

We're always here to offer advice and support. Go to the Ask the Expert section on the website and Email Horticultural Advisor Jo Blackwell with your Kitchen Garden queries or Pest Control expert Gavin Hatt and they'll do their best to help!

We're busy tweeting about all things Harrod Horticultural - what we're doing, special offers, gardening tips and advice and you can always use Twitter or Facebook to get in touch with us as well. With our webteam manning the Tweet decks and Facebook site, you can be sure you'll get the best service we can offer!

Our 116-page 2014 catalogue is out now and it's packed full of gardening ideas, products and solutions to the problems every gardener faces, plus plenty more seasonal ideas to help get the harvest in and keep it fresh!


Happy gardening!