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February focus: Lettuce and peas

After mid February light levels increase and various vegetable crops can be sown if you live in a milder part of the UK.

However, even in the South of the UK temperatures can still drop below 0°C, so it is best to sow chard, lettuce, carrots, radish, peas, spinach, cabbages, etc. under cover. Be patient!

Warm spells can be followed by freezing weather or flood…

It can be a good time to get sowing your tomatoes, peppers, chillies and aubergines. They will need some extra heat and light though to do well. In our next bulletin we will discuss how to really effectively start your tomatoes.

You can find a full list of what seeds can be sown in February here:

Seeds to sow in February

Lettuce seeds germinating in a seed tray before pricking out

Starting lettuce seeds

Lettuce seeds can germinate quite erratically.Some say they need light to germinate, some say they do not. It seems to vary between varieties but we have found the most effective way to start lettuce is as follows:⁠

  1. Put 3cm of fine seed compost into a seed tray and gently firm down to remove air pockets
  2. Make sure the compost is damp and then press a pencil into the compost to make a 5mm deep groove (1 per variety)⁠
  3. Sprinkle your seeds into the groove and use the pencil again to press the seeds gently into the compost. Make sure you label each variety clearly!⁠
  4. Cover with a piece of re-used polythene or glass to keep the moisture in and leave on a sunny window sill⁠
  5. Check regularly to make sure the compost does not dry out. Use a water sprayer to keep moist
  6. Once the seeds have germinated they can be ‘pricked’ out into pots, module trays or soil blocks, being extremely careful to always handle the seedling by the leaves and not the stem
Buy lettuce seeds

Top Tips for Peas

Who doesn’t like a crunchy and sweet sugar-snap pea or mangetout straight from the garden?

In our case they often don’t even make it to the kitchen as they get munched on straight away directly off the plant…⁠

So how to start them off for successful harvests?⁠

  1. For an early start, sow your pea seeds indoors in pots, modules, toilet roll cardboard tubes, or guttering. Get creative!⁠
  2. Direct sow your pea seeds once the soil has started to warm up from late March. Sow in drills 3cm deep and 30cm apart.
  3. Support your tall pea varieties with wires, pea netting between sticks or pea-sticks⁠
  4. Protect your seedlings from pigeons and other birds, they can demolish plants quicker than you think. We recommend mesh or netting over your plants.

Ambassador garden peas

Buy pea seeds

Growing tips for February

  • Planning your garden will make you feel organized, ensure you get a harvest all year round
  • It’s the time of year when you’ll be going through your stored seeds from previous years wondering if they’re still good. Try germination testing them (see our how-to guide here) before replacing and ordering more
  • Get your tools and growing materials ready now. Stock up on seed compost (we recommend peat-free growing media), and pots, containers, tools etc.
  • Clean and repair everything so you can get going as soon as the weather permits.
  • Beat the winter blues by getting excited about the growing season ahead and stocking up on seeds!
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