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Now’s the time to be sowing seeds, both flowers and vegetables, directly in the ground. If the weeds start growing, Danny, our gardener, is always of the mind that’s it’s a sure sign the ground is warm enough. For flowers, you can sow them using a variety of methods – either direct sow in a straight line (usually if you’re growing them in a cut flower patch) or mark out a scallop shape with sand, using the outline of the shell and lines marking the shell as a rough guide for seed sowing; you’re aiming for a scallop shape that’s large enough to accommodate a packet of seeds. Gradually thin out the seeds for a natural effect.

It’s also time to be thinking about plant supports for your herbaceous perennials; it’s not too late to weave twiggy supports from anything you might have to hand. Danny had advice in last month’s blog on how to fashion supports for your sweet peas. Try something similar for smaller versions to accommodate peonies and anything that might need a prop over the summer months. It’s best to do it now before you forget, otherwise, all too often you can walk past a flower making a mental note it might need a support at some stage soon, only to return a few weeks later to discover it’s flopped and too late in the day.

Another method the gardeners at Forde Abbey use in the herbaceous borders to to mark out a grid shape with pea sticks and to cover the entire length of the stakes half way up the supports with netting, allowing the flowers to grow up and through the mesh; support for the flowers which in turn cover and hide the netting over the Summer months.

The sweet pea seedlings have been hardened off and planted out. They will benefit from a tomato feed, or one that is rich in potassium over the next few weeks.

Every month, Danny will be hosting an informal workshop and question and answer session in the potting shed. The next one, on April 28th, focuses on pests, diseases and weeds; collars for your cabbages and all the clever tricks you need up your sleeve if you’re hoping to eat home grown vegetables before someone else gets there first…

Numbers will be limited, so to avoid disappointment please book well in advance. Workshops will be free with a ticket to the gardens (priced at £10).

To book tickets please telephone: 01460 220231 or email: info@fordeabbey.co.uk