Keeping a diary, knowing your onions and digging rhubarb.
Try to keep a gardening diary this year. You needn’t buy a new one, simply use an old diary and make important notes such as when the first snowdrops appear and when the very first crocus opened. In addition, make a note of when you spray plants to control pests or diseases or when a particularly awful disease such as potato blight struck. If you do this it will help you prevent problems the following year.
It is very important to check bags of potatoes which were dug last autumn. This is best undertaken once a month just 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 hung up in bunches. Some of these 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 because it takes three days longer to gain the same length of stem as the mustard. A packet of seeds costs £1 for each . In a temperature of 15.5C (60F) the crop will be ready to eat in 10 to 12 days.
Did you know that nearly all seedsmen have a mail order catalogue? You will find the address on the back of the seed packets. All the catalogues have wonderful pictures and it's good to be able to choose what you want to order in the darker 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.
Now that we have had frosts, dig out the roots of chrysanthemums. These are called stools. Wash them off in cold water and put them into boxes of moist potting compost in the 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 the frosts to penetrate the thick stem then 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 that the delicious red stems can be enjoyed in March. Rhubarb keeps you going!
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 5in diameter pots. Wash the roots first to remove all the soil. Pot each plant into any potting compost BUT you will need six, or even better, 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 be cold. This initiates the hormones to produce flowers in spring. The flowers will need pollinating with a fine art brush once the blooms appear about April, but you will be picking fruit in early May for four weeks.