Gardeners love this time of the year. It is a busy time but full of anticipation of what we will enjoy in the months ahead. Cherry blossom and Spirea are in flower and the buds are beginning to open on the trees in my garden. Muscari and the early tulips are also coming into flower, while the wild primroses are brightening up the hedges of country roads.

The real star in the garden at the moment are the hellebores. There are so many of them in a great variety of colours. It is very hard to choose one. I love all I have seen and want more. These plants flower for quite a long time, have a lovely fresh green leaves and come back and increase year after year. I cut back the old leaves in early January once the first growth appears. I can’t think of any flower that gives me so much pleasure.

potted up Begonias and Dahlias

I have potted up Begonias and Dahlias which were stored in my garage over the winter. I will keep them in the greenhouse until May. I need to pot on some of the shrub cuttings which I took last year. I have held these in the greenhouse over the winter and once potted up I will keep them there until late April or early May.

The only vegetables left in the garden are a couple of heads of red cabbage, few sprouts and some wonderful purple sprouting broccoli. This tastes so good picked fresh and simply steamed for few minutes. My rhubarb was poor last year. In contrast this spring it has long red stalks and we have been enjoying the most tasty rhubarb for the past three weeks. The vegetable patch is prepared and awaiting planting. The first vegetables I planted out last week, were the cauliflowers I propagated late last year. These were kept in the greenhouse over the winter. Mangetout and Snap Peas are ready to go in the ground. I’ll do this on the next dry day.

potatoes have been chitting indoors

The potatoes have been chitting indoors. My intention was to plant the first earlies (Sharpes Express), on St Patrick’s Day but the weather wasn’t favourable. Hopefully I will get them in the ground over the next few days. I will plant second earlies (Queens), at beginning of April. The greenhouse is filling up nicely with seedlings, which I propagated either on the windowsill and in my new propagator but I will wait until the ground is drier before planting out.

March will be a very busy time in the greenhouse with decisions to be made on what seeds of vegetables and annuals to sow.  What worked or didn’t work last year helps with whether to repeat the same, but I am also looking forward to trying something new. This is the third growing season with my greenhouse.  I am hoping my beginners luck will last.

Seeds in packets on a table in the greehouse

Seeds germinate best with some warmth.  Follow seed requirements on the pack. I use a pre-moistened seed and potting compost and cover seed with vermiculite.  It is important to label all seeds.  A sunny windowsill is perfect for most seeds except for those that need a propagator.  Even if the seeds can be sown direct into the ground I prefer to grow all seeds in seed trays or small pots as our soil is very heavy. Once the seedlings have sprouted it is best to move them to the greenhouse for better light.  I did plant six cauliflower seeds late October and held them in the greenhouse overwinter.  They are now ready to go into the open ground.  I am hoping that they will produce heads before the seeds I planted in February.

egg plant growing in pots in a greenhouse

So what’s new for me this year.  I am going to grow egg plant as my son- in-law makes the most wonderful Aubergine Parmiagiana. I’ll try a melon for fun and have planted some seeds of Cape gooseberries.  These have not germinated well with only two seedlings surviving so far. I am hoping I will get one plant at least.  I am also trying a couple of new varieties of tomatoes.  Even though I had a pretty good crop of peas last year this year I have decided on Mange Touts and Snap Peas and will plant at intervals to get a longer crop.

I have potted up begonia and dahlia tubers which were stored over winter and will keep them in the greenhouse until May.  I need to pot on some shrub cuttings I took last year and will also keep them in the greenhouse until end of April or early May.