February gardening tasks

You may be saying to yourself that it is still winter and what gardening jobs can there to do in February?  Actually now is a good time to start preparing for the year ahead if you have not already!  At Mitzvahs and Marrows we like to take the opportunity to take stock and plan what we want to grow during the coming seasons.  A little advance preparation will reap dividends in the long run.

Potatoes are an easy crop to grow and chitting your seed potatoes will mean a bigger yield and bigger spuds, which is good news all round.  Seed potatoes are small potatoes that have been selected from specific varieties and are certified disease free.  You can buy seed potatoes from any plant nursery, garden centre, and from our very own ‘Leap Into Spring Sale’ on 29th February.

Chitting refers to allowing the seed potatoes to sprout a little before planting them out.  This is really easy and you just take an old egg box and place the seed potatoes in them, put the filled egg trays into a cool, dry, airy place preferably near natural light and wait a couple of weeks or so.

Seed potatoes chitting

Seed potatoes chitting

Another important job to do in the garden in February is to check over things and remove any weeds so they don’t take hold.  Of course if the ground is too damp, or hard from frost, or covered in snow(!) this will have to wait until the soil conditions are more conducive.

During this month it is also a good time to order your seeds for future planting (or you can buy some seed pots from the Leap Into Spring Sale).    It is a real gardening pleasure to thumb through a seed catalogue and gaze at all the lovely vegetables, flowers, and herbs to grow.  It is too easy to just plunge in and buy everything!  However you need to think of the size of your garden or plot (or windowsill!), what soil conditions you have, how much sun your garden gets and so on.

If you are starting out growing your own then start small and pick a few things as a project rather than trying to do too much in one go.  At Mitzvahs and Marrows we originally started with potatoes, chilli peppers, tomatoes, and courgettes (the latter grew so well they turned into marrows!), marigolds and runner beans.  We looked at what was most successful and what didn’t do so well.  In our case the runner beans were a run away success … sorry about that, I couldn’t resist it!

Yellow runner beans

Yellow runner beans

Onions are a good crop to grow and rather than try to grow them from seed  it is best to buy onions ‘sets’.  An onion set is a small immature onion and as it grows it will increase in size and bulb out into the onions we all recognise.

Look out for March gardening tasks to find out what to do once the weather has warmed up and you have all your seeds, seed potatoes, and onion sets.

Tu Bshvat

The name means the 15th day of the month of Shvat, which falls in late winter, and the festival is also called New Year for Trees, because on this day the sap is said to begin rising in the trees, and ,as well, the world is judged for the blessing of trees –  their health, how many there will be, and so on.

It was celebrated back in mishnaic times,and revived  by the medieval mystic, the Arizal, but fell out of popular usage for a while. The Chasidic Rebbes re-introduced the custom, which is to celebrate by eating a variety of fruits (15 in all) on which the blessing …Who Creates the fruit of the Tree. This number 15 includes the 7 fruits for which the land of Israel is famed – figs, dates , grapes, pomegranates, olives, wheat and barley.

It is also the custom to eat a fruit that we have not yet eaten this season, on which the blessing …Shehecheyanu (Who has kept us alive to this time) is said.

It is customary to plant tree saplings on this day.  It is not a full Yomtov -work is allowed- but it is a feast! Which is a good thing after all that tree planting.

It is also customary to say Psalm 104 and other Psalms at the celebration,  to take a spiritual stocktaking and to meditate on our relationship with the natural world, with which we have been blessed’

Tu Bshvat is special to us at Mitzvahs and Marrows and we hope you enjoy the day too!

Garden Poem

When I’m in my garden
Planting and sowing seeds.
Vegetables, fruits and all sorts of things
even peas and prickly trees.

red berries

I love to be outside
Even in my lovely green house
Working hard every day,
Every hour that comes along
Watering and potting all things
That are green, but not everything
Only everything that is seen

Sometimes I work outside,
Sometimes I could in be in,
It doesn’t matter really where I am, coz
Thingz are always happenin’.

Strawberries, satsumas and sharon fruit.
All fantastic, lovely and sweet; eating in the right way
Can be such a treat.

garden scene

All living things, great and small
Animals, plants, flowers, fruit and vegetables
Growing and sowing seeds and time,
Around nothing else, but love and wine.

by Jackie Rich