Welcome to Lee’s gardening advice for February written by local resident and keen gardener, Lee Stevenson (aka An English Gardener in Çalış).

The days are getting longer and warmer and it won’t be too long before the warm nights are upon us so its time for an early clear up.

Cut back trees and shrubs before the new buds start to develop. This will help the tree concentrate its energy on the remaining branches/stems as well as looking tidier. If any of the branches you have removed are twiggy with lots of smaller branches you could use these to train peas, sweet peas and most climbing flowers/vegetables. On the other hand, if you have cut away any large branches you could keep these stowed somewhere dry to use in a burner/soba the following year.

Once cut back, look to add manure or any good plant food to the base of any trees or shrubs.

With the wet soil its easier to pull weeds up now before they get a stronghold in your gardens.

Get Sowing

Warmer days are a good time to start growing flowers or vegetables from seed. Most will need some protection from the colder nights or any heavy rains that are forecast. I either use plastic bottles that have had the tops cut off or plastic sheets to cover very small seeds – bubble wrap sheets are very good as the air bubbles keep in warmth. If growing seeds in a pot, plastic bags held in place either with an elastic band or tucked under the pot help keep the moisture in lessening the time needed to water. Try to water with a spray/mister to avoid disturbing the soil until the seeds have the first true leaves – these are the second set of leaves that appear.

Some plants grown from seed don’t like being disturbed so try to be careful when planting on. Grow in cardboard or pots made from old newspaper as these can be planted straight into the soil and will breakdown naturally.

Flowering now

If like me you have crocuses, daffodils or other bulbs appearing in the garden try to weed around them to avoid disturbing the growing bulbs. They also look better without any weeds blocking them.

Other plants currently in bloom include winter pansies that come in a multitude of colors (I got mine recently for 5TL each at the Sunday market which is a bit expensive) and primroses (10TL at the Sunday market) which also come in a range of colours. They will in grown in a sheltered spot and come back again next winter.

How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice - Sprung into action
Winter pansy

You don’t need a garden to grow a fruit tree. There are smaller varieties of orange, lemon and mandarin available or you could grow a cumquat tree in a pot on your balcony. The small orange like fruits are great to nibble on or add to a cheese plate instead of grapes.

How does your garden grow? Lee’s gardening advice - Sprung into action
Cumquat tree in pot

If you are planning on growing your own sprouts this year from seed you need to sow the seeds in February as this vegetable has a long growing season. Now is the time to start most brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower etc) from seed. Why not try growing radishes and salad leaves (lettuce, chard, rocket) in a pot for cut and come again salads. Watercress is another easy to grow salad leaf. If you have a shady area of land you can introduce this, not readily available at the market, vegetable as it will soon spread if kept wet during the summer months and will survive in the winter with minimum care. If you manage to get some either leave it water for a week until small roots develop then cover lightly with soil where you intend it o grow or, if you are able to keep the area for planting wet, just cover the stem and keep moist until you see some growth.

Another easy to grow vegetable is garlic. When buying some to use in food a couple of weeks ago. the seller decided to make the weight up with a rotten looking piece. Once home I decided to plant the rotten looking cloves and, in just two weeks, I have growth on all the cloves that were planted in holes just below the surface and covered.

Happy Growing!

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An English Gardener in Çalış