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Dene Wood, Head Gardener at Clumber Park.

Spring Sowing

Dene's Gardening Tips For March & April.
 |  Jon Rogers  |  Home & Garden

The shortest day has passed, and spring is inbound. While this is soul-nourishing news, do try to savour the winter months. The long shadows and the breath-taking sunrises and sunsets that bookend our day are obvious highlights. Snowdrops, Iris and Daffodil provide most of the flower now, but it won’t be long before the Blackthorn lights up our hedgerows with its blossom.

With longer nights receding and the vernal equinox imminent, we can dream of almost double the daylight hours of December. This warming light promotes the soil temperatures that allow our early garden plants to grow. Around now you will be enjoying the Blackthorn and Cherry-Plum blossoms, Snowdrops, Daffodils, Cyclamen and Magnolia. All very soul-nourishing for green fingered folk.

Work in the garden gathers pace with lots of seed sowing, mostly under glass. Onion sets go into the ground as do early potatoes and parsnips. The challenge for gardeners is holding back until the soil is warm enough to plant. It’s almost always better to wait for warmer weather if greenhouse space permits. It often pays to have fleece ready to protect the young, more tender plants when frost is forecast.


Hopefully, you will have done most of your seed and bulb buying, greenhouse cleaning and tool maintenance. If not, don’t delay, you will soon be much busier in the garden. The shops are starting to stock garden material in the seasonal isles so you can start thinking about using your outdoors space a little more again.

At Clumber, we grow most of our vegetables using a “no-dig” system which is definitely worth researching. Traditional soil preparation for seed sowing is best done with relatively dry soil (not sticking much to your boot). Work it until you have a nice friable fine tilth, then you are good to go. Consider doing this a few days in advance and then covering with used inside-out compost bags. The black colour will help warm the soil ready for receiving seeds and seedlings.

Image courtesy of Steve Bradley.

With bird nesting season approaching (usually March-September), try to do your hedge trimming soon as it’s illegal to knowingly disturb nesting birds. Please do continue to feed these feathered garden allies.

If you’d like to find out more about the walled kitchen garden at Clumber Park, enjoy a free tour on the first Tuesday of every month at 11.30. Meet at the gates to the garden. No booking required, admission into the park applies.