The mild winter has brought all sorts of surprises, such as cabbage white caterpillars on leeks. On the plus side, we have left our winter roots in the ground this year, the carrots and celeriac are in full leaf are still growing in size. A few are losing out to pests such as woodlice, and the carrot fly is still on the wing, but there is plenty left for us.
The beginning of the new vegetable growing year is painfully slow as the days get marginally longer and brighter, partly because the soil is still getting colder. With few exceptions like broad beans, there is little to sow outdoors now. If you have a greenhouse then sow seeds there and transplant in March and April.
Indoors you can sow quite a few crops, especially if you have added heat such as a soil warming cable under your module trays or a propagator. We sow tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, true spinach, radish, spring onion, lettuce, parsley and beetroot this month, with fleece over the whole lot if frosts are hard. Be careful with the fleece when the first shoots appear, as the humid air can cause death by ‘dampening off’,
Their growth is slow, and it is easy to overwater them. If you have a good compost and even heat, then a mild sprinkling once a week will be enough. Last year I killed nearly all my first tomatoes by over enthusiastic watering. February is quite different to April, when twice daily watering is needed.
Outdoors you can plant broad beans, the hardiest variety being Aquadulce. We sow most of our maincrop broad beans and second early peas under fleece at the very beginning of March. (Our first crop of peas were planted in the polytunnel in late November, now 6” high). You can also plant first early potatoes outdoors this month. Chit them by leaving somewhere warm indoors for a fortnight to get their growth underway, and cover them with fleece for warmth.
And get planning for March and April. What did the doctor say when the patient complained that he kept thinking “he was a pair of curtains”? — “Pull yourself together”