Extremely early is late March!

Getting a feel for things…

Once again Easter is come upon us. St. Bridget, St. David and St. Patrick have been observed; the daffodils that brightened the early  grey February and March days are just about hanging onto bloom; the newborn lambs are acclimatising to life on open pastures, the equinox has come and gone, this coming weekend will see the end of winter light saving with the clocks springing forward by an hour, and though still a long way off as yet British Summer Time (and thus by dint of proximity and associate extension Irish Summer Time) officially begins!
With March’s arrival came a much needed respite from what is officially the wettest winter on record, and although the days have been cooler than average for the time of year, at least that slow moving blocking anticyclone situated over the North Sea for the last 2 weeks has allowed the saturated ground to dry out a good deal. The lower than average temperatures will have slowed if not completely stopped all the early growth, but, with a forecasted return to Atlantic weather patterns from mid-week, there should be a pick up by this weekend and early days of next week.
Of course, the Easter holiday period also heralds the 1st big bonanza of the year for the gardening fraternity with all the major DIY stores and garden centres making their first big push for your attention and potential future custom throughout the coming year. Everything from wheelbarrows to hand trowels and dibbers, Patio tables to BBQ’s, decking, lighting, sheds and paving will be on offer; whole sections with the latest range of gardening power tools to help you to mow and to strim, to rotovate and propagate and power-wash every square inch of your garden, no matter what its size. There will also be a dazzling array of seed packets to peruse and confuse and even still (at this late stage) some summer flowering bulbs which failed to shift over the late winter and will now be cast as the loss leaders, and may only prove worthy of the outlay so long as you get them in the ground before the weekend is out. There will be pots and trays and labels and waterproof pens; kneeling pads and micro-mesh, compost bins and water butts; pond kits, tap kits, hose kits, polytunnel kits, everything to help tie in your roses, tie up your peas and tidy up your act as a gardener.
This Easter weekend will also see the year’s first big displays of potted bedding plants. Of course, with Easter this year being celebrated extremely early in late March (from a gardening perspective that is) a lot of greenstock is already on display and a cursory glance should alert you that a lot of what will be on offer will not have been adequately hardened off.
Worth remembering is, that these big retailers are solely interested in the depth of your pocket and their ability to have you constantly dip into it at their bequest. From the gardener’s viewpoint you must not forget that if you buy early, plant later…at least a week or two later
Chase the bargain by all means; but, if you rush directly from the checkout to the chilly March soil, you will simply be sowing your good money to go bad…
Buy a bargain, sow on time and cultivate it well and bully to the gardener;
buy a bargain, then have to buy the same next month, and the month after that…and …bully to the big boys…
Extremely early is late March! Be thankful and Joyous for what Easter brings. Eat plenty of chocolate if you wish… but, easy as you go when in late March soil you sow!

Wednesday 23rd March is International Meteorological Day, and not forgetting that

Saturday 2nd April is International Greenfingers Day,