Avoid seed paper like the plague. In this new gimmick, recycled paper or card is impregnated with seeds which gardeners are then encouraged to plant out. One producer, Botanic Paperworks, writes: “When the paper is planted in a pot of soil, the seeds grow and the paper composts away. All that is left behind is flowers, herbs or vegetables, and no waste.”

I recently received an anniversary card from a company, inviting me to plant it; you can even buy the stuff on Amazon.

Any gardener needs to know what they’re planting. A few companies, like the one that contacted me, keep that secret to themselves. Some merely offer pretty pictures of flowers on their sites. At least others do list varieties and give customers a choice. But none of them provide any advice on growing.

Following the pandemic and during the economic crisis we’re now enduring, many of us have started gardening and growing our own to save money. Although experienced gardeners would take seed paper with a pinch of salt, those new to the game might not.

We’re simply told to plant the impregnated card, envelope or whatever and watch the plants grow. This is one of the most exciting parts of gardening. Cast your mind back to primary school when a broad bean was placed in a jar between moist blotting paper and the glass. Do you remember the thrill of watching the seed burst out and reach planting size? We all love seeing life begin with seed breaking through the compost and nurturing the small plant and seeing it grow.

We need to know about the seed for all this to work. When should it be planted? Does it need winter chilling to germinate? The seed is small, but do you lay it on the surface or lightly cover with soil or compost? How moist and fertile must the soil be? We can use the open ground or a pot, but what temperature does the plant need? Which is better: a greenhouse or the open ground?

With no clue as to the variety or sometimes even the species, anyone would be challenged to know how to care for anything that germinates, let alone decide if they actually want to grow that plant.

“Apprentice” gardeners may blame themselves, wrongly, if they fail here. They, or you, must not be discouraged and put off gardening.

Plant of the week

Plant the bulbs of Tulip ‘Hermitage’ now for stunning blood orange flowers with contrasting crimson markings. Tulip bulbs are best planted in November so that the young leaves do not appear too early and get frosted. Tulips are easiest to grow in pots: plant single colours in each pot and then group the pots for vibrantly clashing colour combinations. You can plant later flowering varieties like ‘Hermitage’ really deep and then put the bulbs of early flowerers on top, still covering with at least 10cm of compost and wire netting if badgers or squirrels visit your garden.