Seedling sea­son

In just a few days’ time, it’ll be spring. Time to plant.

Element - - Gardening - By Janet Luke

Tem­per­a­tures are slowly warm­ing as the gar­den pre­pares it­self for spring. Day­light hours are on the in­crease and you may see the rate of growth of your plants and weeds grad­u­ally in­creas­ing.

Ripe for the pick­ing

Keep en­joy­ing all those win­ter bras­si­cas. Leeks, onions, shal­lots, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, rhubarb and yams and turnips are all plen­ti­ful.

Vege Gar­den

Fin­ish plant­ing any newly pre­pared as­para­gus beds. Feed these new plants with lots of sea­weed and com­post. Early pota­toes can be sown in frost free ar­eas. I am grow­ing Cliffs Kid­ney this year. It is an early sea­son pota­toes. I am hop­ing it will be ready to har­vest be­fore the height of sum­mer when the dev­as­tat­ing psyl­lid bug is do­ing its worst in the gar­den. This lit­tle bug is a new ar­rival to New Zealand and feasts off to­ma­toes, cap­sicums and pota­toes. If you would like to grow ku­mara this sum­mer you can start your own plants at home now. Cut a ku­mara in half and sit it in damp sand to en­cour­age it to pro­duce side shoots. An­other way, which I dis­cov­ered by ac­ci­dent, is to place the cut ku­mara in your worm farm. The mois­ture and warmth will en­cour­age the shoots to de­velop. When the shoots are around 5 cm tall bring the tu­ber out into the light. In spring these new shoots can be gen­tly re­moved from the tu­ber and planted in the gar­den.

You still have time to get the last of your gar­lic in but be quick. Keep plant­ing seedlings of broc­coli, leeks, beet­root and let­tuce.

Herbs

Lamb’s Let­tuce, which is some­times known as corn salad, rel­ishes cold weather. It is best grown in late win­ter or spring as it tends to bolt in hot weather. It is a low grow­ing plant with leaves grow­ing in a rosette pat­tern. The leaves can be used as gar­nish or as a salad. Grow in any sunny, well-drained soil.

Wa­ter­cress

This is a lush aquatic plant with long creep­ing stems. It grows wild in ditches and streams. The leaves are rich in min­er­als and vi­ta­mins C and A. It is best to grow your own or buy it as there is a risk of con­tam­i­na­tion if col­lected from pol­luted streams. Use the leaves in stir-fries, in sand­wiches, and sal­ads Wa­ter­cress also makes a lovely win­ter soup; ap­par­ently Liz Hur­ley lives on the stuff.

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