At last we can plant out bedding begonias in the borders and hanging baskets can be planted.
Summer is on the way and it looks as if it will be a dry one because the streams across the meadows at West Ashling, west of Chichester, are dry.
You may not be interested in buying bedding plants for summer but might like to grow summer flowers from seeds sown directly in the soil.
This is a good time to sow annual flower seeds in this way because the soil is warm and moist.
Pot marigolds, love-in-a-mist, godetia, nasturtiums and lots of other hardy annuals will bloom in 10 weeks if the seeds are sown now.
Weed the soil and then dig it. Now rake it over so the surface is fine.
Then scatter a dressing of blood, fish and bone fertiliser over the soil at a rate of four ounces a square yard.
Rake again so the fertiliser is well distributed and mixed into the soil.
Using a hoe or stick, mark out areas on the soil’s surface to form a pattern which will please you.
It could be geometric, formal or have gentle curves, the idea being that the seeds will be planted using one kind of flower for each area marked on the soil.
The plants may be set out so the colours will blend or contrast and this idea is not going to cost a fortune – there aren’t so many seeds in the packets these days.
Write up labels, pour the seeds into the palm of your hand and sow them in ones or twos in a pattern over each of the areas to be planted.
If sown in a pattern, it will be easier to distinguish between the cultivated plants and weeds.
Water the border with a watering can with a fine rose attached and then hope cats won’t dig it all up. Keep it wet because cats prefer to ‘go’ somewhere dry!
In about 10 days, the whole border will come alive with a smothering of weeds. Leave them alone until they are large enough to remove by hand – an onion hoe is useful for that job.
So, you sowed the seeds in a pattern; a close look will determine the cultivated plants because they look different to the weeds.
After weeding, the cultivated seedlings can be pricked out to fill any gaps and at the end of July you will be enjoying a border which looks as if it has been there for years.
This idea is a good one for anyone starting a garden with little money and a great way to get children interested too.
Children like to see things happen quickly and it’s wonderful to find they are even better than grown-ups at identifying the cultivated plants from the weeds.
THIS WEEK’S TOP TIP
If old daffodil leaves are in the way when you are trying to plant summer bedding plants, don’t be tempted to tug them off.
These leaves must be allowed to die back naturally.
The sap will go down into the underground bulb and will initiate next year’s spring flowers.
If the seed heads are removed, leaving the flower stem intact, this will ensure there will be blooms next spring.