The snowdrops still won’t give way to crocuses and daffodils just yet thanks to a longer than expected cold spell.
Not quite the Beast from the East many doom mongers have been predicting but still cold enough to delay genuine spring.
There have been windows in the drizzle where scarifying, forking and throwing sand down on the lawn has been possible.
On the whole, though, most effective gardening is being done indoors. Filling trays and small pots with compost before flicking through an ever-expanding seed box combines excitement and relaxation.
I sometimes think I should talk to a professional person about my seed-buying habit. Tithonia (torch), Amaranthus, Aster (Ostrich plume), Chrysanthemum (Rainbow hippy love child) and Zinnia (mammoth) have all been sown and placed upstairs in the loft until they’re ready for potting up.
I’ll choose a sunny, dry day and do it on the lawn to stay out of trouble when it comes to trailing compost through the house allegations.
Sweet peas and sunflowers (Helianthus red sun and Heliathus moonwalker) have also been sown to entertain family members of primary school age. Helping children grow sunflowers is a tremendous way to introduce them to gardening which, in turn, might serve them well as they get older.
Taking them to the garden centre to choose sweet pea seeds – that you can help look after – is another. The great thing about most garden centres is that they sell cake as well as seeds.
Introduce little ones to gardening with sunflowers. Credit: Pixabay
It’s all go for seed sowing at the moment and it’s important that you can think about colour schemes and having a vision of how the bed will look every month through the flowering season.
Using perennials and summer bulbs as a framework for annuals to grow around is a simple but effective plan.
You could also work some pretty climbers through the bed in the form of Ipomoea lobata ‘Spanish flag’, in yellow and red funnily enough. Alternatively, there is Ipomoea ‘Heavenly blue’. Both can be trained on bamboo canes or intertwined through the other plants for additional colour.
ON THE PLOT
In between showers, the vegetable beds can be covered with manure if you haven’t already. If you’re desperate, you can get some varieties of carrot and beetroot sown outdoors and marked with radish seeds but I like to do this when it’s dry and preferable sunny.
It’s important to differentiate leisure from work on the plot so you might want to wait for the soil to warm up and do it when it feels more enjoyable.
Types of kale and leek and spring onion can be started off indoors or outdoors now but when its gets drier there will be plenty of opportunities for outdoor planting.
Patience is the key and I’m as impetuous as the next person. If a seedling has had a stressful start, they can be less productive, so at times it’s a false economy to go in early. If you can start seeds off indoors it gives you a head start to create healthy plants and if you are using the no-dig method it’s possible to get two crops from some vegetables.
This year my unusual vegetable to grow will be cardoons. How hard can they be as they’re so closely related to globe artichokes?
My unusual vegetable to grow this year will be cardoons. Credit: Pixabay
I’ve got them propagating in regular compost at the moment in a warm sunny spot and plan to put them in the flowerbed as well as among the vegetables. I’ll put some sand underneath them as they love free-draining, sunny conditions and with some well-rotted manure for mulch and regular watering, they should grow around 2.5m/8ft tall – that means they need to be at the back of a border.
They are exciting times in March, so all we need now is a bit of warmth and sunshine.