Pottering about undercover

February 2013

Spring is on the way so I am led to believe, but the weather outside is no indication, with very cold frosty nights, temperatures in the day barely above freezing and the occasional sleet and snow fall. It’s weather like this that makes me thankful I have a greenhouse to be pottering about in.

Seed potatoes laid out for chitting

Onion seedlings with first true leaf standing up like soldiers

My seed potato order has arrived and the tubers have been laid out in trays and placed in the greenhouse where they are cool, light but frost free. These should start to chit (produce green shoots) over the next few weeks in readiness for planting once the weather improves in late March or April.

The lobelia and carnation cuttings taken last month have rooted, so have been moved out of the propagator and placed still on the warm bench but with no protective cover.

The large exhibition Bunton’s Showstopper onions pricked out last month have produced their first true leaves and are standing up like little soldiers.

Tree lilies already shooting

Planting begonia corms

Tree lily bulbs that arrived in the autumn were planted into containers and stood in the cold greenhouse and, despite being very cold and often at temperatures below freezing, have surprisingly started to shoot already. These should provide an attractive early summer display.

One plant I love growing is begonias, especially the large flowered types from corms that can be planted in baskets or containers. The corms I saved from last year’s plants have been sitting boxed up in paper bags in the spare room. This weekend I will be unwrapping them and replanting them into trays of compost, which will be placed in the heated propagator to start shooting in readiness for this year’s display.

My final job this month is to start sowing some seeds of items that need a long growing period. These will include perennials like gaura, penstemon and verbena bonariensis, along with annuals like dianthus, geranium, antirrhinum, laurentia and gazania.

Sowing tomato seed

Helleborus flowering in border

I will also be sowing some vegetable seeds, I like to sow my Brussels sprouts early to guarantee they are ready for Christmas (apologies for mentioning this already but we must think ahead). I also like to sow a few Hispi cabbage and a few lettuces so they can be planted out early April and produce an early crop. An early sowing of tomatoes will also be made of a bush variety to crop early in the year in containers.

Outside in the borders the hellebores are bursting into bloom despite the weather. I am so thankful that I can still do a little gardening even if only undercover, but as soon as that weather changes and the soil dries out a little I will be out tending those borders again, can’t wait !

Happy Gardening!

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  1. Sue Wood says:

    Having a greenhouse to potter about in is great, I currently have my first early potatoes chitting in egg boxes in my greenhouse. I grow them in buckets and usually start planting the buckets up inside the greenhouse from the end of February each year and then once the weather gets warmer, I put the buckets outside and get the first crops in early May.

    Which variety of Brussels sprout do you sow please? as no matter what variety I’ve tried I’ve not been lucky enough to pick them for Christmas dinner…

    • Andrew Tokely Andrew Tokely says:

      Hi Sue ,

      I too sometimes plant a few early potatoes in buckets or bags for an early crop . You can’t beat the taste of those first new potatoes .
      The Brussels Sprout variety I grow is Trafalgar . Sown by the end of February I always have good stalks of sprouts to harvest by December through to Christmas.
      Best of luck for the rest of the growing season.

      • Sue Wood says:

        Thanks Andrew, I’ll remember that variety for next time I get sprout seeds as I’ve already got my ones for this year (trying Bedford fillbasket this time).
        Going to plant up the first bucket of ‘Swift’ earlies tomorrow :)

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