Bottoms up in the flower beds

17 Apr

Jean and Alison seed sowingAmanda tells me that Georgian gardeners were known to test the soil temperature with their bare bottoms to see if it was warm enough to start sowing seeds.

This was not considered quite the done thing in the Victorian era, so they used their elbows.

Nowadays, we have the option to go more high tech and employ a soil thermometer to check that it’s above seven degrees centigrade, which is the minimum level for germination.

However, Amanda confesses that she’s a bit of a Luddite and generally makes do with the palm of her hand. She combines this with eagle-eyed observation skills – in other words, she has a good look round for annual weeds germinating, as this is a sure sign the soil is warming up.

You may like to use any of these techniques in your garden now that things are finally getting more spring-like.

Because it’s been so cold, she and the team are about four weeks behind with sowing and have only just started setting off seeds in our cold frames.

If you’ve got plants in cold frames, remember to label them clearly – as it’s amazing how quickly and easily they can get jumbled up, leaving you with no idea what’s going to come up.

It’s also worth putting the date on the label to remind you how long they’ve been there. If they fail to germinate after the expected time, you can clear them out and use the valuable space for something else.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to water them regularly, as they will tend to dry out every day, even in damp weather.

And this his how it should eventually look, as seen through the lens of visitor Chris Smith last summer…

Wordsworth House garden

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