February is often one of the bleakest months for gardening – and boating if you are hardy enough to be on the move and not frozen in just now. One bit of compensation may be that while we have cold frosty weather, we might also have clear skies and some winter sunshine which, at least, makes everything a little more beautiful.
All through the winter I keep prodding and poking at my plants, both in my garden and on the boat. Pots still need attention even if it appears that nothing is happening. Keep an eye on watering, beneath the soil bulbs will be starting to stir, and always remove soggy dead leaves so they don’t rot the tender buds of flowering plants.
Violets and primroses might be showing a bud or two now. Some bulbs will even be showing above ground and the wonderful gallant snowdrop might even already be in flower, their dainty pure white flowers belying their strength to push up through frozen ground. Another early bulb is the tiny bright blue iris reticulata which will soon be blooming.
While gardens tend to look after themselves, containers on the boat need a little more care. Slugs and snails are often to be found lurking under pots on the ground, just waiting for a warm day to slide out, have a good munch on our plants and then return to hibernation. Pots on the roof of the boat should also be lifted occasionally to remove mud and grit that can collect underneath. Try to keep the air circulating to protect your paintwork otherwise you will be looking at repainting your roof sooner than you would expect, a big price to pay for a few spring flowers.
Just because the weather outside is not conducive to gardening it does not mean that we can’t still plant a few seeds. If you have a little space and a little light then growing micro greens is great fun with some colourful and tasty results, you don’t even need compost – kitchen roll will do just as well. Use a shallow container, a plastic tray would be perfect, lay several layers of paper in the bottom and soak well. Sprinkle a thick layer of seed and keep watered. It is important they do not dry out, a water sprayer is perfect.
There is an unbelievable variety suitable, choose from: coriander, red cabbage, basil, beet, celery cress, mustard and dill, Sunflower seeds and garlic chives. It seems most vegetable seeds are suitable to eat as micro greens so, if you have any left over form last year, try sprouting them. There are even varieties available for cats, dogs and small pets. So there’s no excuse not to have something fresh to eat even when it is cold and bleak outside.