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Tokely's Tales - Andrew Tokely's gardening blog

Tokely's Tales - Andrew Tokely's Monthly Gardening Blog

February 2012

What a difference a month makes, last month I was saying how mild it had been for the time of year, well February has certainly come in with a vengeance. Snow and hard frosts in East Anglia have really taken a hold over the last few weeks. At least everyone’s garden looks the same when covered in snow, especially when there is a layer 15cm (6in) deep, and with night frosts between -5C and -14C it’s not moving anywhere fast. Still, this cold snap will be helping to break the heavy soil down on the plot and kill off a few of those overwintering pests.

Andrew's seedlings in the greenhouse

The greenhouse heater may have been working overtime, but everything appears to be moving within. Cuttings are growing well after being potted and the seedlings sown last month of aubergines, peppers, early glasshouse tomatoes, antirrhinum, dianthus and a few first year flowering perennials are germinating in the propagator and will require pricking out soon.

Sweet peas sown in January are growing well and I think in about another 10-14 days will be ready to have their tops pinched out as they will have 2-3 pairs of leaves, this will encourage them to bush out. Then as soon as this hard weather changes they will be moved to my cooler greenhouse to gradually harden up.

Andrew's sweet pea seedlings

The Onion Bunton’s Showstopper sown at Christmas and pricked out last month is growing well on the greenhouse shelves and now has grown its first true leaf along with the seed leaf.

The delivery of seed potatoes has arrived and these have been laid out in trays and put in my frost free greenhouse under the bench where they get ample light, but not full sun. This should encourage the potatoes to start to chit and produce short dark green shoots in readiness for planting later in the year.

Shallots have been planted into cell trays and are sitting on the bench in the cold greenhouse and will soon start to shoot, there is still plenty of time to do this as they won’t be ready for planting on the plot until April.

Whilst sitting indoors looking at my glistening white garden I’ve taken advantage of some spare time to thumb through the catalogues and order my summer bedding plug plants. I have chosen to grow some Begonia 'Inferno' for baskets and some Begonia semperflorens ‘Organdy Mixed’ and Sunpatiens to take the place of the Busy Lizzies that I have grown in the past, due to the problems many gardeners had last year with downy mildew.

It won’t be long before I have to get the seed box out again as sowing of aster, lobelia, rudbeckia, gazania, salpiglossis and verbena will be taking place in the next couple of weeks. A few vegetables are going to be sown also under glass and grown on for planting out in April. I like sowing a few early Cabbage Hispi - these will be ready to cut when the overwintered spring cabbage has finished. Some summer cauliflowers sown now will be ready to cut in July and it seems hard to believe it is time to sow some Brussels Sprout Trafalgar, as these need a long growing season to be ready for harvesting in December. Who says us gardeners are not always looking ahead?

Happy Gardening!

Andrew Tokely, Head of Horticulture, Thompson & Morgan

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Andrew's snow-covered garden

Andrew's snow-covered garden

Onion Bunton's Showstopper - growing nicely

Onion Bunton's Showstopper - growing nicely

Seed potatoes laid out for chitting

Seed potatoes laid out for chitting

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