Begonias were a big success last summer.

Begonia non stop variety
Begonia non stop variety
It's amazing what you can achieve with a broom handle, a pinch of seed and... children.

BRIAN KIDD: Get the children in your life to do the hard work

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Summer seems to be a long way off but mark my words, the weather will change all of a sudden.

It always does and always will but I can’t say when this will happen (wish I could).

If you have a greenhouse, you might like to have a look at your garden centre to see if the summer seedlings have arrived. Be quick, they soon disappear.

Why buy seedlings?

Well it saves a lot of bother, particularly if you find some plants are difficult to germinate, or you find they collapse while they are tiny due to a disease called damping off.

Seedlings are usually seen in small plug trays or in little square pots.

They can be taken home and pricked out into seed trays in universal potting compost in rows with five across the box and eight planted from bottom to top.

This was the method used when I was an apprentice a few years ago! Things change and these days most successful gardeners prick out the seedlings into cells made of recycled plastic. Choose the type with 24 cells which fit into a standard seed tray. You will find these at all garden centres.

Which seedlings would you like?

Look back to last year when begonias were the great survivors.

The best overall type was Begonia Non Stop, which bloomed from late June until November.

In very wet areas they survived and in the case of wall baskets, lots of you dear readers have told me how pleased you were (thanks 
Val and Maureen from 
Cosham).

Why use cells?

One seedling is planted in each cell and the advantages are that each plant has a perfect root, the plants are never thin and weak because they all have the same amount of light and when the time arrives to plant them into the garden, they are all tough.

Another advantage, often forgotten, is that the plants can be kept in the cells and given a feed to keep them perfect, so that despite any kind of weather preventing you from getting on with the planting after the middle of May, the plants will thrive in the cells.

If you have a go at this, all you need is a frost-free place with lots of light.

In the greenhouse put up a curtain of horticultural fleece or bubbled plastic so that a small area of the greenhouse can be kept frost-free with a little heater.

You won’t need the heater for very long because the weather will improve very suddenly but I wish I could tell you when!