Gardening Tips for February

Garden Tips For February [K. Hichisson, LGC Chair.]

1. Buy your seed potatoes and chit them ready to plant from mid-March.
2. Cover peaches and nectarines with fleece to reduce peach leaf curl and frost
3. Plant bulbs such as snowdrops in the green (when they are growing) as they are
more likely to grow.
4. This month cut the lawn with the blades set as high as possible on a day when the
grass is dry. I have never known a year when the grass is still growing in
5. Plant onion set and shallots on previously prepared ground when the surface is dry
enough to rake over and get a fine tilth.
6. If you have a greenhouse start sowing bedding plants ready to prick out when large
enough to handle.
7. Sow broad beans if the soil conditions are suitable
8. Dead head winter bedding such as Pansies and primroses to prolong flowering.
9. Finish pruning bush apples and pears.
10. Use winter wash on fruit trees to kill off any over wintering pest eggs.

February’s Topic and the 2016 Competiton – Growing seed potatoes in pots.

First of all, seed potatoes are not seeds. Botanically they are stem tubers (also not to be
confused with Dahlias that have root tubers). These are both storage organs allowing the
plant to die down in the winter and regrow in the spring. You will not be able to go round
the seed stands and buy potato seeds and sow them in your veg plot. For the competition
this year you will be supplied with one seed potato of an unknown variety and the idea will
be to grow this potato. With your skill and the instruction below you will try to get the best
crop you can from the single seed. There will be other classes as well as the best crop.

Growing your seed potato
Start by placing your seed with the rose end up (this is the rounded end where the eyes
are most concentrated) in a tray such as an egg box. Put the tray in a cool, dry, well-lit and frost free place and leave to chit (produce shoots). When the chits are about 12mm (1/2”) long the potato should be planted (around mid-March) although this can be earlier than if you plant in the soil because you can start off in a conservatory or greenhouse and move outside in June. Use a container at least the size of a 2 gallon bucket with holes in the bottom and place about 10cm (4”) of potting compost in the bottom. Place the seed potato in the centre of the container and cover the seed with about 5cm (2”) of compost. As the leaves grow and come above the compost, keep topping up with compost until they reach the top of the container. It is important to keep them watered but not too wet and feed with an organic liquid feed.
Keep an eye out for pests – unfortunately there are no sprays for diseases at the moment.
The main pest is aphids so use an organic spray at the first sign of attack. The potatoes will be ready to harvest when the foliage has died down or at the end of August for the competition. You will be given instructions as to what you will need to do for the
competition in August ready for judging at the September meeting. Good Luck!


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