By E. I. KING,
THERE was a wild rush of planting directly the war broke out ; but even before then, as regular readers of these notes will remember, I advised the sowing in frames and under cloches of several vegetables usually neglected during the autumn and winter months. The seedlings from these sowings will now require attention.
Winter (or prickly) spinach now coming along under the persuasion of the fine autumn weather will require to be thinned out until the seedlings are about nine inches apart. In the neighbourhood of smoky towns especially everything should be done to encourage plenty of good healthy growth. Bear in mind that it is not dry cold that plants object to so much as damp and the sooty film which damp leaves on the foliage. You will watch in vain for signs of prickles on the leaves. The name " prickly " refers to the seeds.
Young carrots coming along nicely in frames should not be weakened by sweltering in their glass on fine days. It is surprising what heat can be generated in a frame. Admit air on all suitable days. The same applies to the young cauliflower plants which have been put into frames for protection. If you have still got cauliflower seedlings out of doors, you had better give them the protection of a frame pretty soon. Fill all spare frame space with lettuce ar l endive plants.
The cabbage tribe are usually quite hardy, but it is a good 'plan to press broccoli and cauliflower plants out-of-doors down on to one side, until they face the north. This prevents damage by early morning sun after frost. Moreover, you can fold a leaf over the curds. The plants are maintained in position by piling earth on the south side of the stem.
BRING THEM IN If you still have green tomatoes out-of-doors, you should bring them in as soon as ever you can, and keep them in a warm place such as a cupboard near the flue. Those of us who have a warm greenhouse may like to try the experiment of lifting outdoor tomatoes root and all, and replanting in boxes or large pots in the more genial warmth. of the house. Some of the plants will fail, but a great amount of fruit can be fattened and ripened in this way. Little success can be expected, however, where there is no heat in the greenhouse.
Marrows, most of which should by now have been pickled or eaten, can be cut as soon as they are ripe, great care being taken not to bruise them. Hang them up by strings in a. warm place, or keep on a shelf.
Later apples must now be got in, except those very late kinds which cling tenaciously to the tree. If the fruit does not readily come off, it is not perfectly ripe. Leave it there for some time. Take the greatest care not to bruise any of the apples you are now harvesting, and put them in store (in single layers) only when they are perfectly dry. When drawing on your store for dessert or cooking, make sure to eat up first those which were ripe first. Early ripening apples do not keep well. Varieties ripening now are hard, and will store much better.
Dahlia seedlings sown early this year should be watched. When frost seems inescapable., lift the tuberous root • stocks and store carefully in a frostproof place in sand or dry soil. Do not follow the bad practice of dividing tubers now. Wait till spring.
If you require to force rhubarb during the spring, it is a good idea to select the stools now. Dig them out of their plot, selecting those roots which have but one or two really good fat crowns. Let them lie on the surface of the ground for a few weeks. Then you can pack them in boxes, and after a short while of settling-in, they can be taken to the warm greenhouse or cellar for forcing.
I have usually planted my shallots in late January or in February. Lately, however, I have been induced to consider the idea of planting a few now. It is true that bulbs planted now make a little root-growth in the soil, which is still warm ; thus they are enabled to make a quick and healthy start when the days begin to lengthen again.
We are in the thick of war, and many folk can see only gloom ahead. Is it not better to think of the peace which will certainly come, and in any case to think of something bright for a change? Show your confidence by going to the store-house and examining those narcissus and tulip bulbs which you dug up to make room for other bedding subjects. As 60 much of your garden has been turned over to the use of the kitchen, devote a little space to early-flowering bulbs. Narcissus, tulips, muscari hyacinths, crocus and snowdrops can be planted now in situations which, no matter how utilitarian you may be, could not grow vegetables. Plant out too those evergreen candytuft cuttings I advised you to take. Set them in a row before forget-me-nots, and provide a perfect blend of blue and white for May. Take plenty of cuttings (which can be housed in a frame or light shed) of bedding plants such as pentstemon, calceolaria and verbena. They make little growth till spring. They survive easily if the leaves are kept dry. Gazanias and " fibrous " begonias provide a wealth of cuttings for greenhouse storage.