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The


t has been said that hearing the first cuckoo was the first sign of spring but for most of us it’s the sound of the first lawn mower, as March is nor- mally the month we make the first cut. There is some thing quite magical and intoxicating about the smell of freshly cut grass; it burrows into the heart and mind, it just makes us smile, lifts the heart as we then know, spring has sprung.


I


If the smell could be bottled, well I’m sure a cure for many maladies would be found - Nature’s very own medicinal compound.


In the flower garden things are already on the move. Towards the end of the month the green shoots of the early Daffodils will be in flower heralding the spring with those yellow trumpets.


Any hardy annuals that have


survived the winter snow and wet will need to be nurtured and weeded, should any have failed there will be plenty of time to catch up.


If you have the space, a few pack- ets of annuals can help brighten the garden as well as the vegetable plot. The saying that all the worlds a stage fits so well to the garden. When it comes to flowers there are so many blousy leading ladies but, of course, these must be supported by the rest of the cast and chorus,


Zinnias, especially the taller varieties, tend to steal the show in late summer and can be sown now. They tend to be free from pest and disease and make a good cut flower. This year I have sown the Zinnia elegans ‘Benary’s Giant Lime’. This is a special giant Zinnia with long, thick sturdy stems with magnificent, fully double blooms, each almost four or five inches across, in a unique and fashionable colour of lime green.


Dartmouth Gardener


Ready Steady Grow


Blooms to dream about. Zinnia seeds tend to be easy to handle. They can be sown where they are to flower (they like a sunny, sheltered position) from the end of April to the end of May when the soil is warming up although, I normally start them off undercover in modular trays.


Apart from keeping the weeds at bay, just let nature do the rest. If you feel you have to thin out, be careful not to disturb the roots of the plants you are retain- ing. And in a few short weeks you’ll be able to sit back and admire the colourful results of your hard labours.


OTHER EASY ANNUALS ✿ Larkspur ✿ Cornflowers ✿ Asters (annual form) ✿ Nicotiana sylvesteri ✿ Nicotiana alata ‘Sensation’, Mixed Colours


✿ Sunflowers ✿ Cosmos purity (another of the leading ladies)


THE VEGETABLE GARDEN


• Plant onions, shallots. Garlic can still be planted if not already done so.


• Plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers. • Chit early and main crop potatoes. Do this in a cool dry shed or out house. Protect from frost. •Plant asparagus crowns. • Sow seed outdoors - broad beans, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, onions, lettuces, radish, peas, spinach, summer cabbage, salad leaves, leeks, Swiss chard, kohl rabi, turnip and summer cauliflower. Watch the weather, and sow only if conditions are suitable.


• Sow seed indoors of sweet peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, celery, salads and globe artichokes.


more garden advice on Alex’s blog http://dartmouthgarden.blogspot.com/


• Cultivate and prepare seedbeds, covering them with clear polythene or fleece to warm up the soil before sowing.


• Protect early outdoor sowings with fleece and polythene.


• Feed crops that have been standing all winter.


• Put supports in place for peas. Stout posts and chicken wire or plastic netting work well, as do traditional pea sticks.


• Start preparing runner bean supports and trenches for sowing (in May) or planting out (in June). Try to avoid digging in wet weather, but if gardening on wet soil, work from a plank of wood, to avoid treading on the bed and compacting the soil.


By Alex Webster


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