Whilst we have managed to keep working right the way through the winter, I love having a bit more time at this time of year to ‘potch and potter’ about in my own garden.

I have just checked the spelling of ‘potch’ and found that it is a Welsh word for ‘mess or trouble’, or ‘potsh’ is a sort of Welsh bubble and squeak. 

The Oxford Dictionary lists ‘potch’ as ‘an opal which has no play of colour and is of no value’. I was sure it meant to potter. Anyway, I digress. As I get older I get more like a squirrel trying to cross the road–so easily distracted.

Where was I – yes, once things start growing in the garden with purpose, it is usually just a race to keep up with it all, but these last couple of weekends, I’ve been able to sort out seed trays out, seed packets, rearrange my little greenhouse and just ‘daydream’ a bit.

Whist pottering, I am always reminded of the things that have worked and the things that haven’t – and will inevitable try a few new things this year.

Like putting trays of just-sown seeds in clear plastic shoe storage boxes complete with the lid for extra warmth–having pottered in the house a bit too and donated a load of never-to-be-worn again shoes to the Charity shop! 

It might be too early to be hugely effective but it is mild and I think spring will be early, so it’s worth a go. As I often say – gambling with a packet of seeds is the best vice!

In his latest newsletter, No-dig guru, Charles Dowding, advises ‘Seeds germinate more strongly when kept warm night and day. That’s why I recommend keeping newly sown trays in your house. 

Most seeds do not need light to germinate, so you can park sown trays in a corner of a warm room, even stacked on top of each other. Just for a few days until you see little shoots emerging. That’s when they need the light.’

He also says that, ‘Once you see weeds emerging, you absolutely need to hoe or rake the ground shallowly. ASAP! Use any tool to disturb the surface, before the weed seedlings grow too large. If allowed to grow bigger, that would become a laborious weeding job. The old saying is, hoe your weeds before you see them!’

Whilst clearing leaves from a corner of a client’s garden this week, I said to my brother, ‘Go careful, this is the type of place you will find a hibernating hedgehog’ – and sure enough, I found a softly-snoring, sound asleep hedgehog. 

Without disturbing it at all, I covered him back up and built a study little shelter over him for extra safety – as he kept dreaming. So if you are starting to tidy up your garden in the more clement weather, do please ‘tread lightly’.

And I’ve just realised whilst putting the date on this column that it is Valentine’s Day this week (Wednesday). It must be a sign of getting older when you remember Pancake Day but forget Valentine’s Day. And with reference to the former, my brother reminded me last week that the first pancake you make is like the oldest child – they always turn out a bit wonky.