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Spring is sprung (meteorologically speaking)

Officially not until 20th March (spring equinox) spring is on its way. Lots to do, inside and out, sowing and planting, but keep an eye on the weather forecast and only sow outside if the conditions are good. Delay your outdoor sowings if you live further north and /or your soil, like mine is heavy clay and takes a while to warm up. A good indicator of readiness is the emergence of weed seedlings, overwintered in the soil.

If your ground is ready then it is time to plant onion, shallot and garlic sets, chit your potato varieties, plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers and asparagus crowns. Sow outdoors broad beans, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, spring onions, lettuces, radish, peas, spinach, summer cabbage, salad leaves of all descriptions, leeks, swiss chard, kohl rabi, turnip and summer cauliflower. Sow indoors alpine strawberries, aubergines, celery, cucumbers, globe artichokes, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and salad leaves for cut and come again.

Begin sowing Hardy Annuals from late March (through to May) as the soil begins to warm up. These will withstand cold nights if sown early but may need covering with fleece or newspaper if heavy late frosts are forecast. Try pot marigold, alyssum, chrysanthemum, godetia, candytuft, gypsophilia, sunflower, poached egg, tree mallow, night-scented stocks and nasturtiums.

Half-hardy annuals are very sensitive to the cold, so should be sown indoors in spring and planted outside after the last frost. This allows for reliable germination and to grow on strongly in ideal conditions before planting out. These include amaranthus, cosmos, cleome, cobae, nemesia, marigolds and tobacco plants.