Growers' Corner: February
With the growing season fast approaching, Capital Growth’s Julie Smith offers her expert advice on what to start sowing for a spring and summer bounty.
Chit your potatoes
Potatoes need to be chitted before they can be planted. To do this, pick your type of potato, and put them with their bottom (a small dot where the root of the mother potato linked with the tuber) facing down, inside an egg carton, in a cool and light area away from direct sunlight. They will develop short, dark sprouts over the next few weeks and will be ready to plant next month.
Sprout Sweet Peas
Wrap your chosen seeds in a wet kitchen tissue, placed inside an airtight container. When the seeds start sprouting, they’re ready to transplant.
Sow and Cover
Peas can be sown under cover, or in your glass house - Feltham First are a lovely early round pea, and the Oregon Sugar Pod is a tasty sugar snap. The seeds should be covered to avoid mice damage, and then transplanted into the ground as soon as your seedlings have 4 true leaves. To speed things up from there, cover the plants with horticultural fleece.
Salad leaves can also be started under covering now - I like Lollo Rossa and Rouge D’Hiver, and the mustardy Giant Red and Frilled for a spicy addition to your salads and stir fries.
Sow for the Summer
If you have a greenhouse, and the space, try a headed cabbage - I would suggest the ‘Greyhound’ varieties with their lovely pointed heads. In any case, be sure to cover cabbages with a good net to ward off pigeons.
Whatever your garden’s size, Cavolo Nero kale is a great staple.
Sow tomatoes, peppers and aubergines on your windowsill, or in a heated propagator. I like cherry tomatoes as they often ripen well, including the lovely Yellow Pear and Sakura varieties. For a hot pepper, there’s Cayenne, and for a milder taste, the Padron variety. With aubergines, I like the Eggplant varieties for their weird and wonderful appearances.
Julie is a food growing trainer for Capital Growth, part of London Food Link. Find details of this season’s workshops (and 50% discount for LFL supporters) from Capital Growth's website