Forget Christmas shopping and do something healthy instead.
• There are some lovely potted azaleas around at the moment. If you feel you are not green-fingered, think again, for these gems will do well in your home. Choose one with just one or two flowers and lots of buds at the tips of the stems. They love rainwater. Keep the plants in a light, cold place, just a few degrees above freezing, in a window but not in direct sun. It’s a pity they don’t have a perfume.
• The colder weather is doing a great job breaking down the clods of soil which were recently dug over. Keep off newly-dug soil otherwise the surface will be sticky and cling to your shoes.
• Plant tulip bulbs in the next few days. This is an excellent time to plant them because they are far less likely to have slug damage. Cold weather induces slugs to go to sleep for a while.
• Fork around parsley and thyme plants to ensure you have proper stuffing for the turkey or chicken at Christmas.
• If leaves on Brussels sprouts continue to look brown or yellow at the base of the plants, take off these leaves and put them into the compost heap.
• Plants of lettuce variety Rosetta, sown in the cold greenhouse eight weeks ago and recommended by me, are now ready to be potted into five-inch diameter pots in John Innes No2 compost. Add 10 per cent extra sharp sand or sharp grit. Mix well and don’t over-water the plants. If the weather remains mild, you will have lettuce for Christmas.
• Look at the hyacinth bulbs you put into deep pots in October and left on the garage floor in the dark. Bring them indoors once the buds are four to five inches tall, but not before.
• Have you taken down the runner bean canes yet? No? Nor have I but mean to do it this week with a bit of luck!