In February we can finally start again in our vegetable garden. There are three crops that can be sown or planted directly outdoors. They don’t mind the cold but the may mind the wet soil. An easy and simple wetness test is to see if the soil sticks to your boots or tools. If it sticks and you start to ‘grow’ it’s too wet and you better wait another while.
The three early crops are:
Garlic, broad beans and Jerusalem artichokes.
Garlic actually needs a spell of cold weather so that the cloves turn into bulbs.
Broad beans love an early start because the crop from a later sowing is very prone to chocolate spot – a disease that marks the leaves with chocolate coloured spots and ruins the crop eventually. The later crop is also very susceptible to blackfly. My favourite variety of broad bean is Witkeim.
Jerusalem artichokes are simply the easiest vegetable to grow. I always say that anyone that fails to grow them should give up gardening for life. In my January newsletter there is a delicious recipe for Jerusalem artichoke soup.
Do not be tempted to sow or plant out anything else yet in the garden, especially not parsnips as is often recommended. Maybe if you are in the south east of England you may have a slight chance to get them to germinate. in any other of the UK and Ireland you better wait until early to mid April. They will germinate much quicker and also grow healthier with less problems of canker.