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February is a busy month in the greenhouse, when you can get a lot of plants off to a flying start.

If you can provide extra insulation, or a small paraffin heater, much sowing can still be done.

Whenever the weather is mild, take advantage by opening the vents as often as you can to keep air circulating.

Get sowing lots of annuals, including begonias, celosias, Arctotis, alyssum, gerbera, marigolds, nemesia, bells of Ireland, Gailiardia cleome and sweet peas.

Most of these will need extra heat - either from a soil-warming cable or a heated propagator.

Seedlings from January - tomatoes, begonias, onions and leeks, for instance - are at risk of becoming leggy if light levels are low or one-sided.

Move them around so that everything gets a fair share of available light.

As soon as you can, take lots of cuttings so you'll got a good number of plants later on.

And treat yourself to a couple of pots of spring bulbs as a cheering reminder that spring isn't far away.

Appealing potatoes

QWhen can I start growing potatoes in containers?

AYou can grow potatoes at any time of year. Make sure the tubers have been chitted and that light levels and temperature are adequate.

Right now the cold would pose problems outdoors, but if you can put the containers in the greenhouse or a heated place, you can start straight away.

You could use black bags with holes in them for drainage, or try using old tyres piled on top of each other.

The Cliff Richard Rose - a 50th birthday gift to the star from fan-club members - has bright pink blooms with a silver reverse. You can buy one for pounds 4.95, three for pounds 13.95 or six for just pounds 25. All prices include p&p and VAT. Send your order to Mirror Cliff Richard Rose Offer, PO Box 400, Spalding PE11 3LX. Make cheque/PO payable to "DMG021 Cliff Richard Rose Offer". Name & address on the back in capitals. Credit card hotline: 01775 710 996. Offer subject to availability, UK readers only. Please allow 28 days for delivery. Offer closes March 30.


The "Queen Mother" is a pale, pink, patio-style rose with repeat flowers and good resistance to all the most common diseases.

Originally introduced to celebrate the Queen Mother's 90th birthday, it has since proving that it has the resilience of its namesake.

Queen Mother roses are available from Notcutt's Nurseries and Mattock's Roses.

Water all trays of seedlings, including those you have pricked out, with a copper-based fungicide.

If your soil is no longer frozen solid, start planting more bare root plants for hedges and shrub borders.

Prepare strawberry beds now. Dig the soil over thoroughly and incorporate plenty of compost or well-rotted manure.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 1, 1997
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