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Devonshire February March 17

Devon's Countryside, Wildlife, History and Events

GARDENING container,

GARDENING container, otherwise scrape off a few centimetres of compost and replace with new. The addition of some slow release fertiliser will give them the best start for the season ahead. If it is raining, or the frost are still around, sort your seed out. Yes, I know all about your boxes/tins/ silos full of half empty packets of old seed and the few new ones that you couldn’t resist in the autumn sale. Once seed has passed its sell buy date it may still germinate, but it is likely to be patchy and disappointing. Be tough - any ancient relics, bits of tissue paper full of unidentified crumbs or ones that you don’t actually like should be disposed of. Throw them away. Any excess, walk around your garden and look carefully at what you have already and also what you want to achieve but viable, seed can be donated to your local seed exchange where, even better, you will get some back in return. On reflection, perhaps I shouldn’t be encouraging you to get more! Now on to the good stuff, you can actually start some sowing. You don’t need an expansive greenhouse to grow your own; window ledges, the spare room, a cold frame, there is always a space somewhere for the dedicated. Some plants need a long season of growth, including tomatoes, peppers and aubergines which enjoy a warm start. It is also the perfect time to sow hardy annuals such as sweet peas, larkspur, snap dragons and cornflowers. There is little as satisfying as a seed germinating, seconded only by a plant flowering or a cucumber eaten that you have grown yourself. You can also prune your roses now. This is a job I adore, prickles and all! I find it an extremely therapeutic exercise, as long as measures are taken to avoid being impaled on the thorns. It is the perfect chance to examine the plants for problems and remove any dead and diseased material. Once pruned, blanket their roots with as rich a mulch as you can muster, they are greedy feeders. For good measure I usually add a handful of pelleted chicken manure or wood ash to encourage good health and a profusion of blooms. Don’t forget to keep feeding the birds. This is not a purely altruistic exercise. By encouraging our avian friends into the garden they will greatly assist in pest control. Blue tits love aphids, thrushes and blackbirds will eat slugs and snails and the robin will guzzle grubs of all shapes and sizes. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, take stock. This is a great opportunity to walk around your garden and look carefully at what you have already and also what you want to achieve. Once the frenzy of spring is over you can then relax into the relatively gentle jog of summer. But before that you have some work to do, so take a deep breath and “bang” you’re off... ! Gill Heavens Spring Into Gardening Discount Weekend Saturday 4th March Sunday 5th March Kick start the gardening year and give your garden a low cost makeover. NEW look, NEW menu! The 1925 Kitchen at Clyst St Mary serves delicious breakfasts, lunches and afternoon tea. We hope to see you there soon. 92 Open: Mon-Sat 9.00-5.00 & Sun 10.30-4.30 Sidmouth Rd , Clyst St Mary, EX5 1AE 01392 876281 and Old Rydon Lane, Exeter, EX2 7JY 01392 873672 St Bridget Nurseries www.stbridgetnurseries.co.uk Countryside, History, Walks, the Arts, Events & all things Devon at: DEVONSHIRE magazine.co.uk

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