Gardening: February is a month purifying

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The word February comes from the Roman Februarius.

It was named after the Latin term Februum, which means purification from the ritual Februa held on the 15th of the month.

But why anyone would want to do anything — especially in the garden — in February is beyond me! Thankfully it only has 28 days this year, so it’s over quickly.

February is often cool, wet and windy, not good growing weather.

Even the winter weeds slow down so it is either a clean-up month — or we try something different.

The cost of the recommended five fruit and vegetables per day is beyond the pale for some families these days, especially those with children.

With this in mind, people with space should consider growing vegetables and herbs in containers or in the method known as square-foot gardening.

Containers will be contingent on size; determine what you can grow. The square-foot garden approach increases your portfolio. Herbs are often a popular choice for containers, either grown as individual types such as mint — which can be invasive when in a mixed planting — or, for example, oregano, chives and marjoram in the same container.

Square-foot gardens can be laid out on a patch of soil, preferably with good soil depth, or as a raised ‘bed’ using such things as railway ties which are 8” square and come in lengths of 8ft, 10ft and 16ft. Once level and secure, fill in with a good compost to encourage a good crop of vegetables. Lay out the ties or concrete block in a square or rectangle to a defined footage eg 10ft x 8ft, then string across both ways to create 12” squares. These then become individual areas for each ‘crop’.

This method allows you to grow a wide range of vegetables in a controlled number in a confined space, whilst not wasting land and increasing efficiency in weed control and healthy plants. Choose the veggies you want to grow — and which are in season — as the type of vegetable will dictate the quantity in each square. For example, one cabbage would fit in one square whereas, perhaps, six onions or 12 carrots — contingent on variety — would also fill one square. Do not use every square at one time but sow/plant in a succession over a period of a couple of weeks to extend the cropping period.

Several nurseries import fruit trees which can, in some cases, be grown in containers contingent on type. Though not prolific in production for several years it is a good idea — if you have space and a protected area from wind — to consider growing several types. When mature, they should provide a regular source of healthy fruits, which goes with your abundant cropping of vegetables and herbs.

Now if you kept cows and pigs ... but that’s another story.

For those interested in flower arranging, numerous types of dried flowers can be produced in the cooler climes of the year. These are simply cut when mature and hung up to dry to be used as need arises. Even with controlled growing, if there is excess to your requirements veggies and fruit can be cooked and stored; herbs, simply dried and stored. There’s little or no waste and you can serve them ‘out of season’. For a little input of elbow grease you can save money and eat well, not such a bad idea for a month which embraces purification, be it the soul, mind or body!

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Published Feb 21, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 21, 2017 at 8:13 am)

Gardening: February is a month purifying

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