Soil far too cold to sow vegetables at moment

Les Foden.
Les Foden.

Some gardeners may have a problem when it comes to pruning clematis.

Prune Group 2, the May and June flowering clematis, by cutting back by a half to two thirds just above a bud (a swelling on the main stems).

A good idea is to cover the soil with clear polythene which will warm it up. It is amazing what a couple of weeks under polythene does to the temperature of soil. Also it is drying as well

Group 3, the July and later flowering clematis, can be pruned harder, cutting back to bud roughly 12 to 18 inches above ground.

With spring flowering clematis such as C Alpina, C Macropetala and C Montana the pruning should be left until after flowering.

If you are straining at the leash to get cracking sowing vegetable seeds outside just hang on a while yet. The soil is far too cold.

A good idea is to cover the soil with clear polythene which will warm it up. It is amazing what a couple of weeks under polythene does to the temperature of soil. Also it is drying as well.

Plants sown now won’t get a good start. Sown later, even into April, they will get a good start and keep growing without any checks.

For now get cracking by sowing indoors.

First sow chilli peppers. There isn’t a more ornamental plant that a bushy chilli plant which can be sown on a bright, warm windowsill or in a heated propagator.

Just a few plants are needed. Fill a three to four inch pot with multipurpose compost and press it down so that it is level.

Water gently and space the pepper seeds on the compost evenly then cover with just a dusting of compost. Press lightly and spray with water and place in a heated propagator.

If growing on a windowsill place the pot inside a loosely tied plastic bag. As soon as the seeds germinate take the plant out of the bag and when big enough to handle place each seedling in its own pot.

Chilli plants can be kept in the house or conservatory as a beautiful houseplant. A good variety is Cheyenne.

Next sow some peas. Collect cardboard insets from toilet rolls, stand them up in a tray and use masking tape or similar to help keep them in place.

To fill the tubes with compost a useful tip is to cut the bottom off a litre plastic bottle, place the neck end in the tube and use the bottle as a funnel.

Be careful though, the cut edge of the plastic can be very sharp so it is a good idea to use sandpaper to smooth it.

I usually put two seeds in each tube just under the compost surface, water carefully and then place in the greenhouse or on a windowsill.

When the seedlings are about three inches high they need hardening off to get ready to be planted outside.