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This month in the garden - 2022

February in the Garden

February is a joyful month, watching the blossoms come out on the almond trees and listening to the birds singing their spring chorus. This year winter is either very late or not coming at all. We will have wait and pray for some decent rain. Rain or no rain, we gardeners are about to get very busy.

This month we can direct sow parsnips, carrots, beetroots, fennel, turnip, radish and potatoes. Salads can be direct sown too; rocket, mustards, Asian greens, cut and come again lettuces and coriander. There's still time to sow peas and get another harvest before the plants admit defeat to the summer heat.

Seeds for companion plants such as calendula, poppies and nasturtiums can be scattered. Comfrey roots can be dug up and divided to make new plants. Its the last chance to prune fruit trees and also to plant new ones.

If you are growing your summer veg from seed then start now. Its always a good idea to stagger your plantings so that you don't become overwhelmed by trying to pot everything on at once. The 8th of February is the best day in this year's biodynamic calendar to sow seeds for fruit crops. Fill small pots or seed trays with potting compost and water gently. Scatter your tomato, aubergine, chilli and pepper seeds on the surface and cover with a thin layer of potting compost about twice the height of the seeds. Water again, gently and place them in a sheltered position, protected from frost. A greenhouse is ideal but a cold frame or windowsill is also fine. Do not allow the compost to dry out – keep it moist but not soaking. Overwatering can be as harmful as under watering.

In around a week the seed leaves will start to emerge through the compost. This is a critical time, so don't allow the tender seedlings to dry out or to be exposed to cold winds. Sometimes it takes longer than a week for seeds to germinate; if nothing has happened within a month, start again with new seeds.

When the seedlings have their first set of true leaves, separate them and pot on into little pots or individual modules in seed trays. Always handle tender young seedlings by the leaves, never the stem. The tiny plants are much more robust than they look but once the stem has snapped, the plant is lost. Keep seedlings moist and they will continue to grow. If their growth slows down or stops, it's because all the nutrition in the potting medium is used up. Then you can pot them on again into a bigger pot with fresh potting compost.

The next fruit day on the biodynamic calendar is 16th of February. Then you can sow summer crops like cucumbers, melons, pumpkins and courgettes. If we don't get a winter then you'll be off to an early start and an early harvest. But these fruits are not frost hardy, so if we do get a late winter and can't protect then from the cold, we may have to sow again later. If you save your own seeds, you should have enough for a second or third attempt. There is nothing worse than not having enough seeds!

If you haven't already, then please start saving your seeds. The world is changing. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding our freedom of movement, the future of our jobs, the state of the financial system, our access to services if we chose not to comply with certain medical interventions. Seeds give us security. They give us autonomy. We can feed ourselves when we have our own seeds. Mother nature is incredibly generous. With just a little extra effort, we can be the holders of enough seeds to feed our community now and in the generations to come.

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