GARDENING: Brian Kidd's to-do list for the coming week
Time to make a pretend cat...
• Yellow botanical crocus are coming into bloom in sheltered places. To prevent them being damaged by sparrows in the early morning, cut out the shape of a cat lying down. Paint it black with a white patch on the front to make it look realistic and thrust two marbles into where the eyes should be and place it nearby. The sparrows will keep off the blooms.
• The soil is very wet but exhibitors will need to sow parsnip seeds soon. Fork over the soil which should have been dug deeply in the autumn, but NOT manured. Once dug over, cover the rows with cloches to allow the surface to dry. This will also warm the soil a little, ready to sow parsnips at the end of this month. It is essential to buy fresh parsnip seed as last year’s will not germinate well. Parsnip seeds may be peregrinated in a jam jar in damp vermiculite and as soon as the roots emerge, sow them into the open ground which has been warmed up as suggested above.
• If you need to move shrubs, trees or roses, remember there are only six weeks left to undertake these moves. You would be surprised how many letters I get asking if shrubs can be moved when the leaves are opening.
• Leave planks of wood on the soil once it has been dug and turn the wood over once a week and squash the slugs which love to hide below the wood. This will reduce the slug damage problem considerably. In small gardens, use upturned half grapefruit skins and inspect these daily, killing the slugs by giving them the size eight treatment!
• Are your secateurs really sharp? It might be a good idea to put that garden centre token towards a new pair.
• Have you though how useful a soil-warming cable could be? Have a look at the garden centres and you will see on the box how easy it is to install one.
• Does the mower need servicing? There is a three-week wait at the moment, so don’t leave this job until spring. If you are confident to mower is OK, start it up once a month so none of the parts seize up in the damp. Start up the rotovator too, it ensures it will start easily when needed in spring.
• If it’s windy when digging, always work with your face to the wind, this prevents bad backs.