WELCOME to February, though weather wise it’s not been the best start to the month with heavy frosts followed by heavy rain making it difficult to get into the garden.

Though, I do welcome the frost, more so than the rain. When we do have a heavy frost, we do tend to see some sunshine, which was quite warm at times, in fact I need to protect some of my recent germinated seedlings growing on my windowsills from the sun brightness, both to stop the seedlings drying out quickly, and to avoid scorching the seedlings young leaves.

I provided shading over the seedlings using some old newspapers.

Frosty mornings are beneficial to the garden in other ways, it can kill off many overwintering pests, it also helps to breakdown heavy soils, particularly when they have been cultivated or roughly dug in the autumn. However, frost can damage many plants, particularly if the frost is persistent for a few days.

You will see from my photograph this week that I have a small clump of self-seeded Echium Pininana ‘Snow Tower’ or more commonly known as the ‘tree echium,’ that the leaves have become limp and you can make out the frost on the leaves.

Echiums are hardy, tough to a point!

Echium Pininana is an endemic plant to the Canary Island, so to overwinter in the UK is bit of an achievement, though, is more likely to be killed off in the heaviest of the frosts, remember gardening is sometimes about taking the gamble to grow things which can be a challenge.

In the case of the tree echium, these do make a stunning upright plant, growing up to three metres tall, though more likely around two meters, they resemble a foxglove in habit, though the flowers are much smaller in size to a foxglove, there are many more flowers which the pollinating insect love. As such it makes lots of seed, hence the self-seeding around the garden.

Talking of seeds, whilst the weather has restricted me getting into the garden, I have taken the opportunity to sow further seeds – using deep cell trays, also known as root training cells, I made early sowings of my first early peas and broad beans and placed these in the cold frame.

This will provide early crops than direct sown seeds, readers may recall that I sowed some peas and beans in the autumn, which developed well and allowed me to plant out before Christmas, they are now around 9cm tall, and on course to give me an early crop.

If the frosty weather continues, I will cover them with some garden fleece, just to give a bit of added protection. My autumn planted onions, shallots and garlic are also doing well showing again around 9cm of leaf growth.

In fact, I have harvest some of my shallots and using them as spring onions. Not forgetting about the flower garden, I also made further sowings of my sweet peas, again using the same deep celled trays from my garden peas. These were also placed in the cold frame.

The sweet peas I sowed in the autumn are showing signs of fresh growth and are around 9cm tall, these are located in the open, though sheltered part of the garden and despite the frost are doing well.

I have a number of seeds which have been germinated using my windowsill heated propagators, once germinated they can be moved to a cooler area, though frost free place. The space made by moving from the heated propagator is now been taken with seeds that need sowing this month, so, I was busy with sowings lobelia, petunias and salvia seeds. It is also time to start sowing border perennials, and by doing so, you will get them to flower in their first year! There is a wide range of first year flowering perennial, though do need to be sowed now such as Hollyhocks, Scabious, Agastache, Anthemis, Campanula and Coreopsis. I am sowing seeds of Cephalaria gigantica ‘giant scabious,’Alcea ficifolious ‘Hollyhocks,’ and Saliva argenta ‘Silver Salvia.’

However, at some point all these germinated seedlings will need to be pricked off into pots and trays. for growing on, also I will need the room to accommodate, so good planning and timing is a key factor. I have already started by working out the space I need and over the weekend. I cleaned and disinfected my current grow houses and erected two new grow houses, which will give me the space I have calculated that I will need for this year’s flowers and crop plants.