Keep calm and carry on crop­ping

TOP TIP

Huddersfield Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE -

Make the most of your plot by squar­ing up to the cold and, come the new year, you will be dig­ging in to the best, fresh­est health­i­est food “Pikant” boast smaller bulbs with red­dish skins and have good bolt­ing re­sis­tance. They’re grown from baby onions called sets – start plant­ing by re­mov­ing the loose skin at the top so the hun­gry birds can’t grab them.

A shel­tered spot in well-drained soil is best as damp soil can cause rot.

Plant each set 3cm deep with a good layer of mulch on top. Tasty onions should be ready to crop in late spring.

Spinach is an ex­cel­lent source of vi­ta­min C, K and A – vi­tal for bone health. This clever crop, which has va­ri­eties such as “Palco” or the win­ter-hardy “At­lanta”, will give op­ti­mal growth as the chill sets in.

Good air cir­cu­la­tion will stop mildew and a fleece cover­ing will pro­vide pro­tec­tion.

If the soil dries out, spinach will go to seed too quickly and turn bit­ter, so be gen­er­ous when wa­ter­ing. With ad­e­quate pro­tec­tion from slugs and snails, you will have tasty leaves in about six weeks.

Now is also the per­fect time to be plant­ing con­tain­er­grown fruit shrubs and trees in your gar­den.

That way, they will be able to ma­ture over win­ter and pro­vide a healthy crop when sum­mer ar­rives.

Opt for early crop­ping va­ri­eties of rasp­ber­ries such as “Glen Moy”, which bears heavy crops of medi­umto-large berries with a lovely flavour. Other fruit bushes to plant now

in­clude my favourites, red cur­rents and goose­ber­ries, which will dis­play a suc­cu­lent spring har­vest. To plant fruit trees, be­gin by thor­oughly soak­ing the root ball so it is well-hy­drated be­fore plant­ing out. Next, use a spade to dig a hole that is about three times as wide as the tree’s root sys­tem. Loos­en­ing the roots will en­cour­age them to grow fur­ther, rather than cir­cling around the base. Fi­nally, wa­ter thor­oughly and, for best re­sults, ap­ply mulch on top to keep soil moist and roots pro­tected. If your tree is top heavy or planted in a windy spot, use a short stake lean­ing into the pre­vail­ing breeze at a 45-de­gree an­gle. Win­ter crop­ping is a re­ward­ing pas­time, pro­vid­ing you with a work­out and an abun­dance of nu­tri­ent-rich yield to de­vour.

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