Sow annuals in a border
Prep warming soil for germination success, says Ruth
FEW things are more glorious than a colour-packed garden border, former gaps between perennials filled with the joyful colours of summer annuals.
Now the weather is warming up, the soil is too, which means you can start sowing hardy annuals directly where you want them to go.
We must still be more cautious with half-hardy varieties such as gazanias and nicotiana though, as these can still fall foul of our temperamental spring climate so should be started off undercover for a few more weeks.
Soil preparation is key when sowing direct. If it is too heavy and holds onto water, seeds can sit and rot, and if it is poor and thin it will lose nutrients.
Dig in lots of well-rotted compost or manure to open up heavy, compacted soil, improve drainage and add goodness for the growing seedlings. A scattering of chicken manure pellets will also make it richer.
Break up the soil first and after sowing, protect the seeds from cats and hungry birds. Lay a few twigs over the top or spray with a harmless deterrent widely available from garden centres.
If you are still worried about sowing direct, start your hardy annuals in a coldframe, unheated greenhouse or mini greenhouse before gardening off and planting out.
For a longer splash of colour, sow in batches every few weeks for the next couple of months.