Gardening: It's time to start thinking about cutting the grass

Torbay Weekly

The weather has gone all soft on us all of a sudden after trying to kill us last week.

Even a frost had disappeared before I left the house.

I did my best not to walk on the lawn in the frost, having learned from last year how damaging it can be to the grass.

Almost amazingly, it’s time to cut the grass, as long as it’s dry enough; set the blades to high and don’t take off too much, probably an inch or so will suffice.

Be careful not to shave the topsoil, but just take off the top of the grass.

If you can, dig a few dandelion weeds out as you see them when you’re mowing along.

When your snowdrops and hellebores have finished flowering, you can dig them up and divide them.

You can do this by thrusting a sharp spade right through the centre; don't be timid about it, as they are pretty robust.

You can then replant twice as many where you want the display next year, but free of charge as an added bonus.

If you have a summer-flowering clematis - get one if you haven’t! - then it’s time to prune it to about 3ft/1m from the ground and watch it go mad in the heat of the summer.

With hybrids that flower earlier you can be less severe, as they’ll have less time to grow into flower.

Now that its a good time to sow seeds indoors, choose whatever variety of geraniums, petunias and antirrhinums that take your fancy.

I can spend hours transfixed at walls of seed packets in garden centres before being asked to leave. I find it’s best to set a time limit and stick to it.

Spend as much time outdoors as you can just pottering and tidying dead stuff and you’ll be much more relaxed; it will also save you time later in the year which can then be used for organised loafing.

On the plot

Start to feel smug by chitting your potatoes and giving them a head start for the big day when they go into the ground.

Place them in an egg tray near a natural light source and they will start to grow shoots that you plant facing skywards.

Traditionally, this is done on Good Friday, but you can judge for yourself when you think the last frost has been and gone.

Many of the ‘tomato badgers’ I know have sown their chosen varieties and, of course, given me chapter and verse about each one.

The tomato is such a revered plant that it is often talked about in hushed reverential tones.

It’s a good idea to plant them indoors in trays now and start saving toilet roll tubes to plant them in when they get a couple of inches tall in the tray.

I like to have a few different sizes of tomato and can’t recommend the variety ‘Honeycomb’ enough.

It’s sweet and orange and you can almost taste honey when you pick it and eat it from the stem.

This is an immense gardener’s perk, guaranteed to have you nodding to yourself in the greenhouse.

I say greenhouse, as that’s all I have left after my poly tunnel blew into a different postcode last week and wrapped itself around a telegraph pole.

Seeing it as a sign from a higher power, I shall use the space to grow outdoor tomatoes and cucumbers now.

If you have any spare space at home, you could sow some strawberries this week.

While they only fruit in their second year, you can have the variety you want, such as ‘Marshmello’ or ‘Temptation F1’.

These are both highly prized in culinary circles and are dormant in winter, so are no trouble as long as you remember to plant them in a sheltered, sunny spot.