February in the greenhouse

The greenhouse is the best place to be on a dark February day. It is bright and optimistic and full of promise. In the greenhouse you can feel the changing season and the extra light and warmth. There are some great ways to spend some time out there in these weeks.

February is a good time to start your earliest seeds. They will need extra bottom heat from heat cables or heat mats. This helps the seedbed stay warm for optimum germination. Clear plastic domes that cover the seedling trays are also recommended as they aid germination by keeping the moisture and temperature steady. These need to be vented daily to avoid damping off and can be removed soon after the seeds have germinated.

It is a good time to take stock of which plants have survived so far and which could be transplanted and given an early start. I have begun to transplant cuttings and divisions of some of my hardiest plants. Last year’s perennials that were started by seed and cuttings taken last summer are ready to be potted up. When this is done so early you will have big robust plants for planting out in a few months.

Consider visiting your favourite local nursery for the first flowers that are available. Although most of these flowers will survive outside, they perform best under cover in the greenhouse where they can enjoy the warmer temperatures and extra protection from cold wind and rain. I enjoy having these early pots of flowers as they bring joy and colour and are great inspiration for the season to come.

It is also a good time for direct seeding in the greenhouse. Try starting some early food crops in the ground and or in containers. I like to direct seed Sugar Ann Snap Peas. These Peas do not require trellising as they only grow 2 feet or 60 cm. They are an excellent early producer. Lettuce, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Kale, and Dill are other good early food crops.

2018 Photos and Copy by Rachel Lloyd