Sow the seeds for summer

WASH AND GO: Plenty of jobs to do in the greenhouse

That’s when it pays to have something absorbing, fulfilling and above all urgent to do in the garden. A greenhouse is a big boon – it is full of jobs that need doing. There’s staging to clear, glass to clean and the whole place probably needs a good tidy-up ready for the start of the propagating season. Take a bucket of hot, soapy water down with you and wash all your pots and seed trays while you are at it.

If you have a heated propagator (and I strongly recommend it), clean it out, cover the base with half an inch of silver sand and plug it in so it has time to reach operating temperature before you start sowing your first seeds.

The traditional time for sowing exhibition onions is actually Boxing Day but a few days at this time of year won’t make that much difference. You can also sow perennials now, the sooner the better when you want them to flower this summer.

And, if you’re growing pelargoniums from seed, they are worth putting in now, too.

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Take a bucket of hot, soapy water down with you and wash all your pots and seed trays

Even without a heated propagator you can still make use of an unheated greenhouse to sow hardy annuals such as sweet peas, calendula marigolds, larkspur, nasturtiums and particularly wildflowers since some species need a cold spell before they germinate.

If you run short of compost or other essentials, it is a good excuse to take the car out for a run.

If your local garden centre is shut over the festive season, you’ll find everything you need in a big DIY outlet or online. Even without a heated propagator you can sow sweet peas.

There are tools to clean, sharpen and oil, or things to put away properly.

Oh, and if you run out of ideas, the mower needs servicing.

If all else fails, shut yourself away in your study or as a last resort your bathtub, with a stack of catalogues and work out your seed order.

Believe me, there’s an odd job for every available moment at this time of year if you know where to look.

Happy new gardening year!

By ALAN TITCHMARSH

For more information on gardening and other subjects go to Alan Titchmarsh’s website: www.alantitchmarsh.com

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