Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland




Time to prepare for those perfect seedbeds

IT'S time to prepare those perfect seedbeds. Use fork, hoe and rake to break down the clods and work the soil into a fine tilth. Avoid walking on areas to be sown, since the weight of your feet will compact the soil and damage its structure.

If the ground turns out to be too wet and is difficult to work, stay away for a few days until it has dried enough to be easily handled. If the soil will not run through your fingers or crumble easily in hour hands, it probably isn't ready.

When drilling your seed, check the packet for instructions on spacing between rows. If sowing in blocks, remember to sow sparingly.

Carrots, parsnips and other maincrop root  vegetables can be sown at anytime from now until late April, as can brassicas like cabbage, and brussels sprouts.

In cold areas, it is better to wait until later to sow peas, runner beans and french beans. Wherever you live, it is better to be a week or two late and sow into a perfect seedbed, than to try to force conditions and puddle seed in too early.

Foliage houseplants such as Ficus benjarnina philodendrons and tradescantias will wake up as the light increases. Once they have started to grow, begin regular feeding, using liquid feed or fertiliser sticks.

Plants that are pot-bound can be re-potted, using ready made potting compost. Lithe-hating species such as citrus fruits, camellias and gardenias will be happier in ericaceous compost.

Winter flowering pot plants such as primulas, cyclamen, cinerarias and azaleas are coming to the end of their season. Azaleas can be re-potted in ericaceous compost, fed and grown on until the end of May when they can be safely stood outdoors until autumn.

Cyclamen and primulas are usually discarded and new ones bought, but you can keep them growing by re-potting.