Gardening: Brian Kidd gets a new under gardener

We have a new member of our family, a pretty four-year-old miniature schnauzer dog.Her name is Sophia (pronounced so-fee-ahh) and she settled in straight away.She is a great comfort to Pam who is sadly disabled but still as lovely as ever.I am glad of her company too as the long walks are keeping me in better shape.

Saturday, 11th January 2020, 6:00 am
A miniature schnauzer - ideal for helping in the greenhouse.
A miniature schnauzer - ideal for helping in the greenhouse.

I intend to do some cleaning up in the greenhouse this week and I am pretty sure Sophia will be in there too!

So, did you remember to sow some early pea seeds in cells?

I remembered but didn’t have time to do it over the Christmas and new year break, so I am going to do this during the next few days too. I have decided to return to the variety called Feltham First.

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Here is what you do.

Half fill insert cells with universal potting compost and put just three pea seeds in each of those cells.

Now cover the seeds with the compost and give the trays a good shake. This action will settle the compost.

Water the compost and your seedlings will emerge in about three weeks’ time.

Make sure you protect them from mice because mice love pea seeds.

At the allotment I put a piece of shelving between two plastic, upturned buckets and put the seed trays on the shelf. Why? Because mice can't climb up the plastic buckets!

Allow the seedlings to fill the cells and then they can be planted into the garden or allotment. Wow! You will be picking peas at the end of May.

Can’t be bothered? OK, get frozen ones!

I had a walk around the garden this morning and see that the snowdrops are emerging, the camellia buds are going to split open in about three weeks and the Daphne odora is filling the garden with perfume.

We have had so much rain that it looked as though the polyanthus were drowning. Just a quick fork around with a garden fork and they perked up really well.

It was good to see the birds were happy on the feeders, especially the woodpecker. I always say to Pam: ‘The woodpecker says nip round to Pam’s for a jolly good feed.’

Some of the most pleasing plants at this time of year are the winter-flowering heathers.

They are so hardy, even after being almost flooded. They were literally under water for about a week yet now they are in full flower and when the sun is out, you would think it was midsummer.

Add to this a background of the beautiful golden leaves of elaeagnus pungens maculata aurea plus the bold red bottle shapes on the berries of aucuba, and the garden looks great.

However, the trouble is that the grass is too wet to gather the remaining leaves.

Never mind, only three weeks and the snowdrops will be in bloom and it will be light at five o'clock on the last day of this month!

As I keep promising – spring really is coming. You heard it here first…

This week’s top tip

Prick over the soil where spring-flowering bedding plants such as polyanthus, forget-me-nots and winter-flowering pansies were planted. This will encourage a good root action as surface compaction will be broken.