Our horticultural hotshot sets you to work.
• Sow early broad bean seeds now. Aquadulce Claudia is one of the best and hardy. Avoid slug damage by sowing a single seed in each cell of an insert tray. The 24 cells which fit a standard seed tray are best giving you the chance to plant them at a time suitable to you.
• Plant a clump of rhubarb. Early Timperley is the earliest, Victoria is a lovely red-stemmed variety. Existing rhubarb can be lifted and divided now. For an early crop, dig out a large crown and leave it on top of the ground to get frosted. Then it can be forced in a dark airing cupboard.
• Save rainwater for acid-loving plants you may get for Christmas. Azaleas and potted heathers love rain water.
• Buy shallot bulbs to plant on the shortest day. Shallots are easier to grow than onions and have extra flavour. They can be cooked the same way as onions and their new leaves taste better than spring onions.
• When planting tulip bulbs cut up a quarter of a shallot and put this on top of the tulip bulb because it will keep squirrels away as the shallot disguises the smell of the tulip bulbs.
• Weeds in the lawn can be tackled a small area at a time. Lay a plank on the grass, kneel down and remove the weeds by hand. An old-fashioned daisy grubber is useful. A sharp knife is also handy. Do one square yard at a time.
• Christmas presents for gardeners. Azaleas, heathers, poinsettia, orchids in pots. Stainless steel tools. A soil warming cable. And ladies PLEASE, we blokes don’t want socks, handkerchiefs, ties or aftershave. Women buy aftershave for men so they have something for a raffle in the new year!