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By now you will be itching to get sowing seeds, and getting stuck into the greenhouse and the garden.  Well, patience is a virtue!  It wonít be long before you are starting off your sweet peas, and broad beans, but for now, preparation is the key!!!
 
Examine your propagation gear.  Seed trays, pots, electric propagators, labels (and markers for writing on) and compost are all essential items, and now is the time to get them in good nick for the coming deluge of new plants that will be bursting the seams of your house and greenhouse.
 
Firstly, hygiene is extremely important.  Using seed trays and pots over and over again does save money, but making sure they are clean and free of disease is very important.  If they have been used the year before, give them a wash.  Dipping them in a tub of detergent and a bit of bleach will ensue their cleanliness.  Let them drain, and stack them tidily.  If you use the white plastic labels, collect the ones you used last year and with a brillo pad, scrub them.  If you have resident children, or teenagers, the offer of monetary gain to clean them for you is often cheaper than buying new ones!!  Dig out your electric propagators, clean and dry them and plug them in.  Check they work.  If they donít, call the manufacturers.  A very well known manufacturer of electric propagators replaced the bottom tray of a propagator free of charge.  Complete with plug to mains!  Donít expect miracles, but sometimes they do happen!!  If you donít ask, you donít get.

Check your label markers.  If they donít work, get new ones.

 
If you have compost from last year, use it for potting on, or mulching.  For seed sowing, get fresh compost.  Whether you like to use special seed compost, or good old multi-purpose, get it fresh.  Old compost will have had time to harbour all sorts of bugs and fungus!  One thing very handy is to have an old plastic swing top kitchen bin in a corner of the greenhouse for compost.  Not out in the rain and cold, and as it is dry, easier to sieve out lumps for seed sowing.                  by Sue Welford  

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