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February is mid-winter, but there is an air of expectancy as everyone anticipates the arrival of spring. As you become increasingly impatient to get started in the garden it may be the time to get out and start preparing for the year ahead. It pays off later to clean your pots, clean and sharpen your tools, sort out junk and make lists and plans for the garden.


February tends to be extremely cold and wet, but if the soil in your vegetable beds is not frozen or waterlogged, you can still give it a dig-over, adding compost and organic matter to improve its structure and nutritional content.


Do not be fooled into thinking that we are through the worst of the weather - especially here in Scotland. February and March can be the coldest months, so hang off planting outside, unless it's shrubs or trees, and keep your seeds and seedlings under cover until all threat of frost is passed.


Sowing and Planting


It is a good time for planting bare-root shrubs and trees, particularly roses and hedging plants.


Selective pruning and tidying is best done now.


In the greenhouse you can sow sweet peas, pots of herbs and plant summer-flowering bulbs.


Feeding


Fertilize and mulch hedges.


Pruning and plant management


Prune large and late-flowering clematis down to a low pair of buds.


Bring bare stems of forsythia indoors to flower.


Prune bush and shrub roses.


Renovate perennials. Pull away old dead foliage to reveal the new leaves coming through, and if the plant was not thriving, divide, replant the new outer parts, replace and mulch to help the plant revive.


Renovate Dogwoods if necessary. Cut one third of the stems to the ground. If they need more renovation, cut them all back to the ground.


Prune fruit trees ( not plums or cherries) and sprinkle potash around base to encourage fruiting.


Cut away any dead ornamental grass foliage.


Maintenance and Planning


Buy early seed potatoes.


You can chit your early potatoes now as well, and even consider growing them in pots under cover in the greenhouse or a cold frame.


Put fleece or plastic sheeting over your beds to start to warm the soil.