This is the most exciting time in gardening, when there are plenty of seeds that need to be sown – all you need is the room to grow them. Hardy annual flower seeds including larkspur, love-in-a-mist, godetia, calendula, pansy, poppy and alyssum can be sown directly in the soil where they are to flower, once soil temperatures have warmed up a bit. That means no pots, seed trays, pricking out or re-potting. It’s dead easy and very cheap, just rake in some soil conditioner to provide a friable seed bed and just scatter the seed.

Many other seeds can’t survive the low night temperatures of March and April and need to be grown indoors until frosts are over in May. Tender flowering plants that fall into this ‘half-hardy’ category include begonia, busy lizzy, petunia, salvia, tagetes and verbena. Tender vegetables include tomatoes, runner beans, sweet corn and the marrow family. I think many of these are better bought as small plants, this then saves all the mucking about and transplanting. Buy them when conditions are ready and off you go. If you fancy growing these from seed, you need to sow in large pots or seed trays filled with a good Seed & Cutting Compost. For maximum germination follow the directions on the packet as to covering seeds and the temperatures required.

Grass cutting needs to start this month in mild areas of the country to trim back untidy growth. If you rake the lawn first you will not only pull out any harmful debris that may have hidden away overwinter, but this will also encourage the stems to stand up straight so they are shortened by the mower. The first cut should be on a high setting so that it just trims back some of the stem. You can gradually reduce the height of cut in subsequent mowings which will gradually increase from once a month to once a week. Then you can look at some sort of programme for the year for feeding and weeding.

There are plenty of vegetables that can be sown in March to provide early crops of tasty food. Broad beans and peas can be sown straight in the ground, although I prefer to sow them individually in cells or pots full of multi-purpose compost. Because the planted seeds can be kept in a cold frame or sheltered sunny position I find germination is always quicker compared to open soil. The seeds are also protected from mice and other animals that tend to dig up these nutritious food sources if planted directly in the soil. Root crops such as carrots and parsnips are normally sown directly in the soil as soon as the sunshine warms up the soil. Before sowing the seed thinly in rows it is advisable to nourish the soil with Fruit & Vegetable Plant Food and rake into the top 3cm (1in) of soil.

Posted in Gardening By Ken Crowther On 9th March 2011

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