Alan Titchmarsh warned tough spring ‘sorts boys from men’ in March gardening tip

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The TV presenter has spent more than five decades as a gardener, having first applied to be a gardener’s apprentice at 15 years old. At college, Titchmarsh studied horticulture and after graduating was employed to train staff. Since then, the 71-year-old has written articles, books and presented TV shows all about the garden. 

Titchmarsh is considered among the most respected gardening experts in the nation, and regularly divulges his tips to eager, green-fingered fans.

In one piece of advice from his 55 years in gardening, he told beginners to “hang on in there” during spring.

Titchmarsh noted the continuous succession of harsh winters and large amounts of rainfall during the summer could make it difficult for some.

However, to the demoralised growers of plants, fruit and vegetables he issued a message of hope.

In 2013, Titchmarsh told Amateur Gardening: “With gardening, sometimes we get two or three years where it is tough.

“But it sorts the men from the boys, we must be patient and we will get there.”

Last month, Titchmarsh revealed a spring checklist that helped him to keep on track and on top of tasks in March.

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In an excited remark, he told the Daily Mail: “The gardening season starts here!”

Titchmarsh noted the ground was “warming up” and weeds were “starting to grow”, which meant it was time to start planting. 

He said: “Stay on top now and the rest of the year will run like clockwork!”

Titchmarsh said it was time to “spring clean the borders and fork over vegetable beds”.

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He noted it was the right time to “pressure-wash” drives, patios and outdoor areas to rid them of weeds and moss.

Titchmarsh said gardeners should prune roses, apple trees and pear trees along with cutting the lawn for the first time.

Once that was done, he said gardeners could “sow wild flowers, hardy annuals and herbs” and plant roses, climbers, some shrubs and fruit trees outdoors.

Titchmarsh listed March as a safe time to sow broad beans, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsnips, rocket, radishes, spinach, spring onions, turnips and some early varieties of carrots and peas outside.

In the greenhouse, Titchmarsh advised sowing chillies, sweet pepper, tomatoes and “some half-hardy annuals and bedding plants”.

Last month, he also revealed a number of tests carried out by gardeners of the past to determine when it was safe to sow seeds outside.

In a video for Waitrose and Partners, Titchmarsh said: “The old gardeners used to do several tricks.”

The first was noting “when weed seeds were beginning to germinate in spring”.

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Titchmarsh said they regarded that as a sign the soil was “warm enough” to sew seeds.

If they were still uncertain, he claimed they would perform the “baby and bathwater” test. 

This is where a parent puts their elbow into water to ensure it isn’t too hot or too cold for their child.

Titchmarsh argued there was a similar approach with gardening and said: “Just see if it (the soil) feels warm to your elbow.”

He also offered a slightly less traditional method, which involved removing clothes.

Titchmarsh admitted this technique was used “quite a few years ago” and claimed: “I never used it.”

He said the old gardeners – from an unspecified time period – would “drop [their] trousers and sit with your naked bottom on the soil”.

For those brave enough to try his tip, Titchmarsh explained: “If you go, ‘Oh that’s cold!’ [then] it’s too cold for seeds.”

Love You Weekend With Alan Titchmarsh airs at 10am today on ITV.

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