Gardening: your weekend to-do list with Brian Kidd

Have your onions gone soft. Are your spuds rotting?

Friday, 3rd January 2020, 9:24 am
Check your onions have not gone soft. It might take a while...

• It is very important to check bags of potatoes which were dug last autumn. Do it once a month in case any of the tubers are rotting. Remove any rotten ones. Don’t leave them around. Put them straight in the dustbin.

• Check onions which are often hanged in bunches. Some become soft in the neck (top) of the bulb. Use these first. Simply cut out the soft parts until you find firm flesh.

• A nice indoor job for children is to sow mustard and cress. Some prefer cress to mustard but if you would like both, sow the cress three days earlier than the mustard as it takes that time it to achieve the same length of stem as the mustard. In a temperature of 15C (60F) the crop will be ready to eat in 10 to 12 days. The instructions are on the seed packs. I have just sown some cress.

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• Did you know nearly all seedsmen have a mail order catalogue? You’ll find the address on the back of seed packets. All the catalogues have wonderful pictures and it's good to be able to choose what you want to order on these dark evenings.You see, we are already looking forward to summer.

• Have you ever seen the flowers on anemone blanda? They are daisy-like blue blooms, or pink which has the added name rosea. There are little tubers in fancy packs at garden centres. They can be planted in pots right now, indoors, and once the pots are filled with roots these gems can be planted outdoors in a sunny spot. If you do this, they are always a great success whereas if planted directly into the garden, the little tubers often rot or are eaten by all sorts of beasties.

• Dig out the roots of chrysanthemums. They are called stools. Wash them in cold water and put them in boxes of moist potting compost in a cold greenhouse. Cutttings can be taken in February and March.

• Dig out a huge clump of rhubarb. Leave it on top of the ground to allow frost to penetrate the thick stem. Put the clump into a black polythene bag at the end of February and then into the airing cupboard, still in the black polythene bag so the delicious red stems can be enjoyed in March. Rhubarb keeps you going!

• If you haven't moved rhubarb plants for ages, do it now and give each clump a generous amount of farmyard manure. If you need more plants, this is the time to split the clumps.

• This is a good time to plant or transplant strawberries. It is very important not to bury the crown (centre) of the plant. If you would like to grow some in pots in the greenhouse, pot the largest runners into five-inch diameter pots. Wash the roots first to remove all the soil and pot each plant into any potting compost BUT you will need six o,r even bette, eight plants for each person you intend to eat the fruits. Leave the potted plants outdoors for not less than four weeks to allow them to get cold. This initiates the hormones to produce flowers in spring. The flowers will need pollinating with a fine art brush once the blooms appear around about April but you will be picking the fruit in early May for four weeks.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​