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February Top Allotment Tips

February top allotment tips have arrived and we are still very much in the grip of winter in most parts of the UK. Despite this, the days are joyously lengthening and there are subtle changes taking place on the allotment.

Rhubarb Crowns

Rhubarb crowns are spluttering gradually into life. It is also wonderful to see the snowdrops now out. Crocus and daffodils are not far behind.

At home, house sparrows and starlings are raising the noise level earlier in the morning than for many months. This welcome optimism is valued more than ever during lockdown. Yet, of course, we do need to tread carefully as we are still early in the year.

Jobs in the Greenhouse

Included in our February top allotment tips is a bit of tidying up! I’m spending more and more time in the greenhouse now and it feels good! One task I’ve been doing is to wipe the algae off the perspex panels to allow those vital extra rays of light through. Good light levels are so important to keep the potential legginess of young seedlings to a minimum.

Greenhouses on allotment

A heated propagator or a heat mat is a boon at this time of year. They allow an early start now for crops such as aubergine, tomato and peppers.

A non-heated propagator, placed on a warm windowsill in a cold greenhouse is a very useful alternative. The sun has enough strength now to really warm a south-facing windowsill or greenhouse for part of the day.

Onions, Shallots & Leeks

I like to start off my onion sets ‘Sturon‘ and the red variety ‘Electric‘ towards the end of the month. I plant them in multi-purpose compost in a combination of trays and pots. The onions will develop steadily. Root development is key and the shoot will develop accordingly. I’ll be planting my shallot bulbs ‘Golden Gourmet‘ in the same way and also any leftover garlic. All of these can be planted directly on the plot during March if the weather is settled if that is your preferred way of doing it.

Leeks benefit from a long season too especially if you want them to reach a good size. The varieties ‘Lyon’ and F1 ‘Below Zero’ are perfect for a February sowing.

Leeks

Windowsill Gardening

I enjoy growing carrots to maturity in large containers or windowboxes. The varieties ‘Amsterdam Forcing‘ and ‘Ideal‘ perfect. I make the first sowing during February, leaving the containers in the greenhouse until the end of April. I then put them outside until harvest time.

Carrots
Potatoes

My windowsill is now in active use chitting my early potatoes. Use the brightest window you have available. Try to protect the tubers from too much heat from any radiators.

Bare Root Planting Season

Outdoors, we are still in the middle of the bare root planting season. As long as the ground isn’t waterlogged or frozen, bare-rooted trees and bushes can be planted out until the end of March.

Runner bean trench

Another worthwhile job outdoors on the plot if the ground isn’t too wet, is to dig a runner bean trench. The trench is made up of rotted compost and leaf mould from a previous year. The well-rotted matter is added to the trench and eventually covered up with soil. The idea is the trench will retain moisture around the roots of these thirsty plants.

Still thinking of climbing beans, it can be quite good fun making wigwams at this time of year. It is easy to sink the canes in damp ground that isn’t frozen or waterlogged. As ever it best to keep off soil that is in that condition.

When the soil isn’t fit to work on there is always plenty above ground jobs. It worth checking all your fruit trees and fruit bushes for any diseased or damaged wood. These should be removed using a sharp pair of secateurs.

What to Harvest in February

Happily, there are still plentiful supplies of produce to harvest this month on the allotment. Brussels Sprouts, winter cabbage, kale, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips and swede are all in season.

We hope you have enjoyed our February top allotment tips and make sure you come back for more in March. If you missed last month’s, you can browse it here.

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About Lee Senior

Lee Senior is an experienced horticultural writer, RHS Yorkshire in Bloom judge and horticultural consultant. He has also had an allotment for over 25 years. After initially spurning horticulture as a career option, to pursue his boyhood dream of becoming a train driver, Lee soon realised he couldn't resist getting his hands dirty to make a living. Horticultural College training led, to getting an allotment at the tender age of 18 (in the days when you could actually get a plot quickly). My gardening hero, is Geoff Hamilton" says Lee. "It was Geoff who convinced me that you didn't have to spray everything that moved in the garden. Watching him on Gardeners’ World in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s was a revelation. I was lucky enough to meet Geoff and I’ve also more recently had the pleasure of meeting Joe Swift. Now over two decades of practical experience has taught me to work with mother nature, not to fight against her and don't try to tame her, as so many gardeners seem to be on a mission to do. Small-scale food growing is my passion and I can't wait for my two daughters, one who is 8 years old and the other who is 5 to hopefully pick up the baton in the future. Nothing beats the flavour and satisfaction of growing your own food. You simply cannot buy the same quality and freshness. Everyone can have a go at growing something says Lee, no matter where they live. Lee has also written his two books; 'Pennine Way, The Highs and Lows' which is a humorous, personal account of walking this momentous iconic walk. His second book 'Walking in the Aire', features 14 short walks in Yorkshire.

12 thoughts on “February Top Allotment Tips”

  1. Katie Brunt says:

    Hi Jill, here is a link to our latest onion & shallot growing guide – https://hub.suttons.co.uk/blog/general/lockdown-project-guides-grow-onions-and-shallots
    We advise that you transplant your seeds into 8cm / 3in pots and having moist soil will cause less damage to the roots of the transplants. If you turn the plants out of their pots at the right time, this will help to do your very best to avoid disturbing the roots. We hope this helps!
    Best regards,
    The Suttons Team

  2. Katie Brunt says:

    Hi Sue, sowing seeds directly outside is fine for most veg if it’s the right time of year. But important to check individual growing instructions on packets. We hope this helps!
    Best regards,
    The Suttons Team

  3. Katie Brunt says:

    Hi Richard, here are some instructions for your onions.

    Onions are usually grown from sets, which are small, immature bulbs. This is the easiest and fastest way to grow them. Sets are readily available in early spring and late summer in garden centres and from online suppliers.

    Onions need a sunny, sheltered site with fertile, well-drained soil. They won’t do well on acid soil (below pH 6.5).

    Before planting, improve the soil by digging in a bucket of garden compost or well-rotted manure for every square metre (yard), and add 35g per sq m (1oz per sq yd) of general purpose fertiliser, such as Growmore.
    Plant the onion sets 5–10cm (2–4in) apart, in rows 25–30cm (10–12in) apart, from mid-March to mid-April or in September. Gently push the sets into soft, well-prepared soil so the tip is just showing. Firm the soil around them and water well.

    Birds can be a problem lifting newly planted sets, so cover with fleece until they’ve rooted in.

    Onions are best suited to growing in the open ground, but you could grow a short row or two in large, deep containers or raised beds. They’re not suitable for growing bags.

    We hope this helps!
    Best regards,
    The Suttons Team

  4. Richard says:

    Am unclear about your onion sowing; you plant individual sets in a pot or tray?? I assume you plant out at a later date and If so, when? What about root disturbance?

  5. Sue says:

    I am just about to build two raised garden planters and intend to start square foot gardening. Is it best to start the seeds off in pots and then transplant the young plants into position in the beds?

  6. Katie Brunt says:

    Hi Edward, thank you for your comment. We are glad you are enjoying our monthly allotment tips and good luck with your flower pots, sounds like you have it all under control.
    Best regards,
    The Suttons Team

  7. Katie Brunt says:

    Hi Diane, thank you for your comment. We are glad you are finding our monthly allotment tips helpful. If you need further advice you can browse our grow guides below:
    https://www.suttons.co.uk/growing-guides/
    These give great tips and detail on any specific vegetable or flower you might be having timing problems with. We hope this is helpful to you.
    Best regards,
    The Suttons Hub

  8. Edward Kennedy says:

    Thank you
    I used to have an allotment but it was too big for me, so I gave it up. I grow everything I need in large 30ltr fliwer pots now in my garden is ncluding lots of flowers. Ad they die off, I can move another pot into its place. Look forward to youf next tips.

    Ed

  9. Diane Robbins says:

    As someone who is still, very much a learner on my allotment plot, I find it very useful to know what I should be doing through the months. I have managed some successful crops, but struggle with timing everything to make full use of the plot.

  10. Jill says:

    Thanks for your tips
    If you start your onions off in seeds trays or pots how deeply do you transplant them on and is it easy not to disturb the roots much?
    Thanks,

  11. Katie Brunt says:

    Hi Vanessa, we are so pleased you are enjoying the monthly allotment tips. Stay tuned for more!
    Best regards,
    The Suttons Team

  12. Vanessa Eden says:

    Easy do-able and inspirational monthly tips.
    Much appreciated.
    Thanks
    Vanessa

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