Time to get gardening

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For most of us, next month is the start of the gardening year. March is a month of digging and - so long as the weather is favourable - sowing.

Existing flower beds, borders and veg patches need to be re-invigorated and livened up so a bit of soil conditioning by way of manure and compost being worked in to the ground will provide much needed nutrients before planting anything new.

Gardening myth of the month is that you should add sand to clay soil to help drainage - which is possibly the worst remedy to try as it turns clay soil into a rock-hard substance.

What you should use is large quantities of organic matter such as compost because this coats the clay particles, opening up pores in the soil which lets air, water and roots move freely and makes the soil more attractive to earthworms and other organisms that loosen the soil even more.

Generally speaking, organic matter can turn even the worst clay soil into good soil within a couple of years.

One of the easiest ways to breathe new life into borders or containers is to go for some instant colour such as the much loved Pansy.

The perfect spring bedding plants, along with primulas, forget-me-nots and wallflowers, pansies are great for filling the gaps in borders once you have cleared away bedraggled or dead plants.

As British Summer Time starts at the end of next month the days will get longer and there will be more light for you to enjoy being in your garden. Here are some top jobs for March from the Royal Horticultural Society: Sow vegetable seeds and plant potatoes, protect new spring shoots from slugs, plant summer-flowering bulbs, feed containers with fresh compost.