February brings new beginnings for gardens everywhere
Home & Garden

February brings new beginnings for gardens everywhere

FEBRUARY dawns and new life is springing up across the late winter garden.

Illumination all but dazzles now and out of the remaining darkness colour breaks noiselessly. Observe it by getting outside every day.

Miracles are still waiting for those who appreciate the sacredness of life and creation.

Up beyond our neighbouring bungalows, where the road narrows, the remains of a drystone ditch still exist and here, the very first primroses are now emerging.

These wild primroses (thankfully left untouched) love to huddle together creating a picture of demure simplicity beneath the encroaching wayside herbage.

But how they have escaped the invasive wild garlic is beyond me for it spreads with a willingness that stuns.

Obviously, wild garlic tastes like garlic. But it differs from the more common cloves in that it is more mellow and has a distinct grassy flavour.

The raw leaves have a strong pungent smell, but they taste delicate and sweet. Use it in the same way you would with normal garlic in pesto and mayonnaise.

Funnily enough, wild garlic has become one of the food joys of spring in recent years.

It grows in abundance along this forgotten ditch, but it can be found in many byroads throughout the county. It's easy to identify, its leaves being bright green with a pointed shape, and flowers which are white having a six-pointed star shape arranged on a single flower head. Its bulbs are small and white.

That said, the whole plant is edible, and it can be enjoyed raw or cooked.

Many animals rely on plants for survival, so never take more than you plan to eat as this could also deny wildlife from a valuable food source.

In the UK however, all wild plants are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), which makes it illegal to dig up or remove a plant.

Wild garlic is at its best before too many flowers appear, signalling tougher leaves and a more bitter flavour.

In April, when wild garlic is at its peak, you are more likely to find delicious tight buds than open flowers.

For all my promotion of spring and emerging treasures it’s still early and the weather remains fickle.

Hard frosts may be getting rarer, but heavy, continuous rain seems unstoppable.

It is unwise therefore to undertake planting of any kind when the soil is exceptionally wet and sticky.

It is better to stay off the soil altogether-at least on those mediums which are classed as ‘heavy’. If the soil is light and quick draining then essential work can be done but even then, you risk compaction.

Make sure there is plenty of humus-forming material on beds and borders during the next few weeks for it will help to rectify deficiencies.

Farm and horse manure, leaf mould, garden compost or anything else that is organic, will give you this beneficial effect and may be spread or worked in from now up to the end of March.