[al­most] Spring is sprung

Element - - Gardening -

Ripe for the Pick­ing. Parsnips and car­rots are at their sweet­est now as frosts turn their starch into su­gar. Har­vest wa­ter ch­est­nuts to use fresh in stir-fries and sal­ads. Leeks are ready to eat. Har­vest Florence fen­nel be­fore the bulb be­comes too big and tough. Cut the ma­ture head off broc­coli and let the plant sprout side shoots. Kale, turnip, celeriac, sil­ver beet and spinach are ready to har­vest. Rhubarb, the last man­darins, lemons, or­anges, grape­fruit and tan­ge­los are now ripe. Time to make mar­malade. Herbs An­gel­ica is a tall-grow­ing peren­nial herb. The leaves, stems and seeds can all be used in cook­ing. Young stems can be steamed and eaten like as­para­gus. Com­bine some stalks with rhubarb when stew­ing as it helps to al­le­vi­ate tart­ness. Sow seeds in au­tumn and give the plant plenty of space to develop. Pars­ley, whether it is the flatleaf or curly type, is a great herb to grow year round. Sow fresh seeds on top of any bare patches of soil. Ur­ban Or­chard Now is the time to graft new va­ri­eties onto your fruit trees. Get crafty and have an early, mid and late sea­son ap­ple on one tree. A great way to save space and have six months worth of ap­ples in one space. Trade graft­ing wood with your neigh­bours and friends. Plant fruit trees as long as your soil is not too soggy. Stake any newly planted trees se­curely to pro­tect them from strong spring winds. Spray cop­per on all your trees. All cit­rus trees will ben­e­fit from a good feed around the drip zone. I use home made com­post or used cof­fee grounds col­lected from my lo­cal cafe. Vege Patch Any bare patches of soil in your vege gar­den should be cov­ered with a mulch layer. I use sheep-dag wool or old pieces of car­pet. A mulch layer keeps the soil warm, pre­vents weeds grow­ing and en­cour­ages worms up into the top layer of the soil. Start sow­ing seeds of broc­coli, cab­bage, let­tuce, beet­root, sil­ver beet and spinach in trays. Keep them warm by wrap­ping in plas­tic or plac­ing a pane of glass over the trays. Spinach, beet­root and sil­ver beet seeds will ger­mi­nate faster if you soak them in wa­ter for a day be­fore sow­ing.

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