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Author: Julia Smith, Posted: Friday, 24th January 2020, 09:00

Once January is out of the way, everything seems to speed up in the garden. Bulbs are flowering, vegetable seeds are being sown, there’s lots of weeding and tidying in the borders, and the lawn will soon need cutting again.

From mid to late February you can sow broad beans and peas directly into the ground for harvesting in the early summer. Fresh, small broad beans are so delicious in salads or lightly steamed as a vegetable. They are always at a premium to buy, so these are things that are well worth trying to grow.

Early potatoes are much nicer than shop bought

Don’t fill your space with maincrop potatoes, which you can easily buy in the shops, but early potatoes are a treat and always so much nicer than shop bought ones so why don’t you grow some? You will find early seed potatoes in the garden centres. The variety ‘Accent’ is a good one but there are plenty of others.

Put them individually in egg boxes to ‘chit’ in a cool, bright place. Don’t let them get frosted in an unheated greenhouse – if frost is forecast, cover in fleece and then uncover again in the morning. Chitting is a term for sprouting and you want sprouts about 1.5cm long, ready to plant out in late March.

You don’t have to even have a garden as there are many different companies selling sturdy bags or bins, which have been designed to grow potatoes in and can be kept on a patio – a dustbin with holes in the base would do fine.

Raspberry plants only last about 10 years, after which their fruiting tails off – a sign of this is if last year’s crop was small or the plants were short with weak canes. As long as the ground is not frozen or waterlogged, now is a good time to start growing raspberries.

Soft fruit is a good thing to grow

Plant in a shallow hole and spread the roots of the new canes out to encourage strong new canes to grow. Space out the new canes to 35-45cm between plants and 1.5 to 2 metres between rows. Make sure the posts and wires are sound.

Soft fruit is a good thing to grow as it is pricey in the shops and such a nice thing to pick in the summer, especially with children.

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