With the welcome splash of colour from daffodils and crocuses, come the first green shoots of perennial plants, quietly nosing up through the soil. Buds are fattening and lawns are growing. Our gardens usually burst into life around mid-March, but despite being ‘officially’ spring, cold snaps are still a risk for a few more weeks. So what can you do to get a head start in the garden?
Make your own plastic-free seed pots
With the weather still a bit iffy, March is a good time to start off seeds on a warm, light windowsill or greenhouse. Sowing in loo roll tubes or home-made paper pots reduces plastic and it’s perfect to get kids involved. And when your seedlings are all grown up and ready to leave home (the plant ones), you can pop them straight into the ground (or pots) without disturbing their roots. Plus, the cardboard or paper will rot down and improve the soil.
Toilet roll tube seed pots
You will need: old toilet roll tubes, scissors, an old plastic ice-cream tub or similar and some soil – garden or seed compost. And seeds!
- Cut loo roll tubes in half (or for long-rooted plants like sweet peas, keep whole)
- Snip one end into four equal-sized flaps, fold these flaps to make the bottom of your pot
- Fill with compost, lightly press down, then make a hole with your fingertip
- Pop in a seed and gently cover with a little compost
- Stand them close together in a tray or old ice cream tub and sprinkle with water.
If you don’t have enough cardboard tubes, grab some paper, scissors and a small jam-jar and head to:
Good for the soil
On drier days – remember those? – March is a good time to give your garden soil a boost. This is especially true in East Sussex, where most of us garden on heavy clay (pottery class, anyone?) or chalk – both of which can really benefit from added organic matter.
Add compost or soil improver
For next spring, start making your own compost now with a great value compost bin, plus tips on getting the most out of your garden and food waste at Composting at home.
Or, buy top-quality soil improver – made from green waste collected in East Sussex and processed at a local composting facility – from all our Household waste recycling sites.
’Mulch’ is just a thickish (at least 5cm) layer of material covering the soil around your plants. It can keep moisture in, keep weeds out and improve soil condition. It can also make your garden look instantly tidier, a bonus at this time of year. Mulch can be:
- plant or animal material like compost, well-rotted manure, wood chippings – these will also add nutrients and structure to your soil for healthier, stronger plants.
- non-biodegradable material like stone chippings, gravel or crushed up shells – these won’t feed your soil but can add decoration.
What are you planning to grow, this year? Along with lots of lovely bee-friendly flowers (see RHS Plants for Pollinators), I’m hoping to rope my children into growing their own cucumbers and strawberries to save me some money!
And given that March appears to have arrived like a lion, I look forward to meeting the lamb…