Running a bit late with my notes for February but do hope you enjoy the things to do right now. Can you believe we are almost two months down of 2012??

This is the time of the year when our plants start to produce seeds or slow down growing in readiness for the ‘dormant period’. Otherwise known as “Harvest Time”.

So start harvesting seeds from so many plants. Get some plain envelopes and gather seeds from agapanthus, daylilies, St Joseph lilies, alstroemeria, arum lilies, clivia, aquilegia, amaryllis lilies, salvia, cleome, etc.

This is also a good time to take cuttings of certain roses, lavender, hydrangea, fuchsia, daisies, geraniums, salvia, etc.

If you have never taken cuttings before try to look for soft and hardwood cuttings because you might have success with one or the other. Some plants like Hydrangeas are better if you take hardwood but lavender is better if you take softwood cuttings.

You can make your own germination mix or buy a bag from the nursery. To make your own you should use river sand, vermiculite, perlite and loam soil. The ‘medium’ should not be rich. If I have to make my own then I just mix some well washed river sand with a bit of vermiculite and the cuttings work well in this.

Lavender - cut the tip of the lavender (not a flowering tip) and strip all the little leaves off the stem except for about 3 at the tip. Cut these leaves right across the top so that you now have a flat line. Dip the cutting into a No 2 hormone powder. You could fit about 50 to 100 cuttings in a small tray. Put 10 in a line and make 10 lines. Always let the cutting lie at an angle. Never straight up.

Hydrangea - take a hardwood cutting and cut just above the ‘eye’ at an angle. Dip them into No 2 hormone powder or straight into the soil.

Remember to water every day until you see them shooting.

Get some late veggies now. Plant some bush beans (blanche and freeze for winter months), radishes, basil (make pesto for winter) and tomatoes. Lettuce, baby spinach, rocket, oriental veggies which are delicious harvested when they are young. You can start planting winter soup veg like carrots, turnips, onions, garlic. Leeks and celery.

CARAWAY seed is very easily grown and best sown outdoors in early autumn into full sun or light shade. Well drained soil. Caraway perpetuates itself by self-sowing and can, with a little control maintain the cycle. Harvest by cutting the seed heads just before they fall. Fresh leaves are great in a salad.

You could do the same with CORIANDER.

If your ginger is pushing little shoots, plant them in the garden and by next spring you will have your own GINGER.

Take yourself off to the Nursery and get some winter seeds. This is a much cheaper way of having a pretty spring garden. Get some Stocks, Primula, Larkspur, Iceland Poppes, Pansies and more…………

Think SWEETPEAS and get a place ready to plant later in the month. They really like a well nourished soil in a hot spot against a wall or over a fence that gets sun most of the day. Nothing nicer than the sweet perfume of sweetpeas. I can already smell them!

ROSES – this is a good time to summer prune roses, fertilse and give them a boost for the next few months. Epsom salts, 5:1:5, bonemeal – bounce back and mulch with manure and compost. Cut blind shoots back.

Fuchsias – Also good time to summer prune. Fuchsias will push out lush new growth and flowers. Foliar feed with nitrogen which would be nitrosol, seagrow, multifeed classic, then top-dress with compost NOT acid compost because fuchsias are not acid lovers.

Compost/manure – time now to order a nice big load of good quality manure or compost and get this into the garden before the winter annuals start going in. I see quite a few winter annuals already in Nurseries. Pansies, etc. Don’t plant Petunia’s until the rains have gone as they cannot handle too much water but a good time to plant is in early autumn.

I caused a bit of fuss when I mentioned to Jenny Cryws-Williams that talcum powder would sort out the caterpillars on Clivia and Amaryllus. If you continue to do this every few days, you will smother the worms and they will die. Another good idea is to use Diatomaeous earth which is a organic powder. Wonderful fertiliser as well. This can be purchased on line from Oleum is also a good alternative.

Happy gardening!!