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The Joys of Spring


I so enjoy the spring and all the joys of watching things starting into growth. It is such a lovely time of the year. Seed sowing, either outside or under glass, is a sheer joy. I have no idea of how many hundreds of packets of seeds I have sown, over the 40 years I have been gardening, but I still get such a thrill when I see the young seedlings either popping through the ground, or emerging through the seed compost when sown in trays under glass.

However, it is also a very busy time of the year and using the correct tools can make things so much easier. Over the years I have come to realise that it is better to try and obtain the very best you can within your tool budget. I have bought inexpensive tools in the past, only to find that they break easily, or they are not really suitable for the job. I have also noticed that tools which are cheaper versions of reputable makes, tend not to be so nice to work with. Often they are not balanced or shaped so well and make the job a chore instead of a pleasure. At this busy time of the year the last thing you want is a job disrupted because of a broken tool.

Select those tools which are made of stainless steel, or have coated blades, as these will last longer, often make the job itself easier, and have far less need for careful maintenance, and oiling, to keep them in excellent condition.

When sowing seeds in the garden, I find it easiest to take out a straight row by following a tight garden line and using the corner of the blade of a draw hoe. This is also an essential tool when it comes to earthing up the potatoes so that the young soft growth does not get frosted. I have tried using a garden spade for this job but the task is so much harder than with a draw hoe.

Garden rakes are essential for getting a good seedbed and for levelling. In my experience those with wide teeth make things easier, and get the job done better, than those with teeth like nails.

I have also had great success with rubber-tined rakes. They are fantastic for raking off rubbish among the flower borders, as the soft teeth do not do as much damage to the newly emerging, delicate shoots as the metal ones. I have also found them excellent for leaf collecting, whereas I find that spring-tined rakes will often bring out a lot of grass with the leaves. This just does not happen with the rubber-tined ones.

Having mentioned lawns, make yours look so much neater, and more professional, by having good straight edges. These can be achieved very easily by using a sharp edging knife. If you have only a small lawn go for a knife without a tread but if you have a lot of edges you will find it more comfortable and easier on your foot if you select a knife with treads. Do not be tempted to use a spade, as this will give you a wavy edge, as a spade’s blade is not completely flat.

If the lawn is neatly edged and the grass mown it’s surprising how much better a garden can look, even if you do nothing else and the rest is untidy. I always think it is worth trimming the edges with a sharp pair of long-armed edging shears regularly, as it means that you do not have to pick up the tiny bits of grass and this saves on a job at this busy time of the year.

Select shears that have a non-stick coating as they last longer, keep sharper and do not require as much maintenance as untreated blades. All I do is wipe them off with a damp cloth.

Remember to edge the lawn first and then, if you are mowing with a mower which has a grass box, it will pick up the clippings when you mow the edges. Put these on the compost heap, but mix them with the other material rather than leaving them in layers, as this encourages speedier decomposition.

Have lots of fun seed sowing and growing all your plants. I wish you all good luck and happy gardening. I will be back in the summer to pass on tips and advice about pruning. Until then just enjoy your garden.

Christine Walkden

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