February fill-dyke! Black or white, the month is likely to be wet. Gardeners must beware of trying to work very wet soil, but every opportunity must be seized to get up to date with outdoor work. Pruning, manuring, and all constructional work are jobs to be completed in spite of the weather.
Prepare the ground for March seed sowing. A good tilth means even seed germination and a correspondingly good crop.
Get ahead with sowings under glass, and if an opportunity occurs, sow some of the earliest seeds in the open.
Plan spring planting and sowing. Begin to use spring fertilizers. Make sure you have plenty in stock.
Keep soot swept from domestic chimneys: it darkens, and so warms, the soil; it destroys pests; it possesses a little food value.
Soot and fertilizers used a fortnight before outdoor sowings will be appreciated by the seedling plants.
Clean, with hoe or digging fork, plots that were dug in autumn and left vacant through the winter. These have probably become weedy.
Plant artichokes, shallots, and (if liked) garlic on the plot.
A dusting of one-three-one fertilizer is the best for general use in the food garden. This is made up of one part sulphate of potash, three parts superphosphate, and one part sulphate of ammonia. Two ounces per square yard is a sufficient dressing.
Dust the fertilizer over just before hoeing. This allows it to mix freely with the few inches of soil on the surface.
Tidy up parts of the plot that have been occupied by brussel sprouts, winter greens, etc. Burn woody refuse, put disease-free soft rubbish in the compost pit to decay and make manure.
Sow a few early peas. Field-mice play havoc with these in some parts. Coat the peas by immersing them in paraffin and then rolling them in red lead before sowing. This will prevent losses.
Sow broad beans if they were not sown in November.
Prepare a sheltered nursery or seed bed. Some crops are better raised and transplanted; and this method saves valuable space on the plot.
Finish pruning of orchard fruits. Prune gooseberries, red and white currants.
Mulch with manure all trees in borders and beds. If this is not possible, give a good surface soil dressing, mixing artificial fertilizers with the soil before use.
Make new strawberry beds if desired. Stocks to be grafted can still be headed back.
Winter washes can only be used while buds are still quite dormant. The end of this month is probably too late.
Order Bordeaux mixture, lime sulphur or other insecticides for use when needed. Derris powder is the best general insecticide for the fruit garden.
Buy and plant delphiniums, irises, peonies, and other early flowering perennials. Later flowering perennials can be planted next month, but the sooner the early bloomers are in the better, as they may then be expected to give some show of flower this season.
Lift and replace herbaceous plants, but do not divide the roots of slightly tender subjects unless the weather is very mild and open.
Sow sweet peas under cloches, but delay ordinary sowing in the open until March.
Prepare annual flower beds. A fine tilth is desirable for these as for the food garden sowings.
Roses can be planted this month, but should not be pruned until late March.
All flowering climbers can be planted now.
Sort over plants stored for the winter. Chrysanthemums, carnations, and other almost hardy plants wintered in cold frames can be moved to the open as soon as a spell of sunshine has really warmed up the soil. Dahlias and similar dormant tubers must be removed from store and set to sprout in trays of moist soil, in a frost proof place.
Roll and sweep the lawns as soon as the weather allows. Fertilizer used this month will greatly improve the appearance of the lawn in spring.
Sulphate of ammonia, an allowance of 1/2 oz. to the square yard, mixed with sand to make even distribution possible, is one of the finest lawn fertilizers. From now until midsummer this dressing can be used every two or three weeks.
Prune late flowering shrubs, clip hedges, and trim living border edges as necessary.
Sow carrots, lettuces and radishes on hotbeds.
Raise seedlings of flowers, leeks, cucumbers, aubergines, onions and tomatoes, for later planting outdoors. These need a hotbed, or very warm, sunny frame or greenhouse, if artificial heat is not available.
Start dormant tubers of all kinds, take cuttings of bedding plants, prick out seedlings, and generally push on with the work of raising plants for the open.