Things to plant in your home vege patch now are cabbages, beetroot, bok choy, celery, carrots, cauliflowers, lettuces, rocket, radishes, swedes, turnips, parsnips, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Here’s a few tips from Luscious Lynda on things to tackle in the garden mid February.
1. Try something new: how about a row of radicchio – aka red chicory? The leaves have a bitter flavour that can be a shock to your tastebuds at first, but shred them finely into salads to balance the blandness of lettuce. Steamed or stirfried radicchio is delicious too, or add it to Italian red radicchio risotto. Radicchio can be sown or planted now for picking in autumn and winter. It prefers cool weather so it’s ideal for any gaps in your vege patch caused by the harvesting of summer crops. Sow seeds into trays, or sow direct in a sunny spot with moist soil. They should sprout within a fortnight. Radicchio doesn’t mind light frosts and it develops the best colour in cold climate gardens. Radicchio ‘Fancy’ and ‘Palla Rossa Early’ are available now, or just for radicchio in the salads range at garden centres. Best of all, if you don’t eat it all, it throws up pretty edible blue daisy-like flowers. I reckon it’s worth growing for these alone, especially in salads.
2. Keep planting for autumn and winter. Use what’s for sale at your local garden centre as a good guide to what you can plant now: cabbages, beetroot, bok choy, celery, carrots, cauliflowers, lettuces, rocket, radishes, swedes, turnips, parsnips, broccoli and Brussels sprouts can all go in now.
3. Tomatoes looking truly terrible? If your plants have been badly hit by pests, blight or other fungal diseases, don’t be afraid to take drastic action. Tomatoes in poor health now won’t recover to set any more fruit, so sometimes it makes more sense to cut your losses. It’s a waste of valuable space to leave tired or spent summer crops in the ground if they’re not producing. You can also ripen green tomatoes on your window sill indoors (pull up the whole plant or cut trusses, rather than individual fruit). Or make our Fresh green tomato pickle.
4. Plant celery for winter soups. Celery takes a couple of months to fatten up for soups and stews, so either plant punnets of seedlings now, or sow direct if you’re prepared to be a little more patient. Celery hates hot weather and tends to get tough and stringy (or it bolts to seed) if it isn’t well-watered in summer. If you’ve got established plants, keep their toes moist with an extra bucket of water every few days.