The first outdoor salads can be sown now. Lettuce is the basic essential, available nowadays in apparently infinite variety. Short rows of several cultivars each should be sown at fortnightly intervals. A fine, level seedbed is required, so fork, rake and tread away. Mark the row ends with canes, set a line and press the rake handle into the soil for a shallow drill. Take the trouble to sow the seeds individually 1in apart, to save fiddly thinning later. Draw the soil carefully back overhead and lightly firm with the rake head. They’ll be up in a fortnight.

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