Not too early to get gardening

As storm Doris rages you might be forgiven for thinking winter is still here and there’s not much to be done in the garden. There are a few things you could be doing though (besides getting the lawnmower serviced, cleaning and sharpening your tools etc) including planting onions and shallots. Good varieties are Sturon, Bedfordshire Champion, Red Ray or Electric (red onions) and a favourite and productive shallot for me is Jermor. You could risk planting garlic, but it’s a bit late as garlic needs to have some decent periods of really cold weather or the bulbs won’t split into cloves and you’ll end up with something that looks like an onion.

If you have a greenhouse, heated propagator or even just a sunny windowsill it’s not too early to plant vegetables that need a long season to fruit, such as chillies, peppers and aubergine. Tomatoes can also be sown now for an early fruiting. For indoor tomatoes you can’t beat old favourites Alicante, Shirley, Gardeners Delight and Sungold and there are a huge variety of different coloured tomatoes available too. For outdoor growing try ‘Magic Mountain’ as referred to by our February speaker Pauline Pears, a tomato that is claimed to be resistant to tomato blight (available from Thompson and Morgan or Kings Seeds).

It’s also a good time to start thinking about summer flowers, annuals for your hanging baskets and pots or flowers for cutting. Most of the seed and plant sellers have great deals on at the moment for plug plants to grow on.Those of you who came to our November meeting may remember our speaker, Stuart Lowen, talking about a new concept in annuals with the development of ‘Trixi’ plugs, three plants of different types of annual in one plug. Although they are not cheap (£5.99 for 1) the more you buy the lower the cost and you only need 3 Trixi plugs to fill a 14″ basket with flowers and colour They are now widely available in a variety of colour schemes and plant combinations from all the main companies e.g Mr Fothergills, J Parker, Van Meuwin, Thompson and Morgan. Or you could sow flower seeds now: Cosmos,Nasturtiums,Snap dragons, Marigolds and Lobelia to name but a few can all be sown in late February or early March.

Good Gardening, Spring is just around the corner!