Here’s the next list of things you should be doing in your garden at the moment – if you have a veg patch or some fruit bushes and trees. It comes from Practical Gardening and Food Production in Pictures, by Richard Sudell, and was written just before the war. Although he writes in a sparse, economical way, there are some great little phrases which amuse me… I’m sure no amusement was intended – this is a practical I book, after all! I love the idea of sleeping trees – or rather not properly sleeping trees! Maybe they could be charged with watching the spinach, turnips and onions!
Food plots (part 1)
Cover the manure on asparagus beds with soil now.
Remove bean poles, pea sticks etc., and sort and clean them before storing.
Watch growing crops of spinach, turnips and onions for signs of slugs. Any modern slug killer will prevent trouble.
Lifts sea-kale roots and store them for forcing as required. They can be put into sand or ashes in the open.
Lift rhubarb for forcing under glass.
Sow broad beans if you have a position ready on a warm sheltered border.
Plant fruit trees and bushes of all kinds.
Prune fruits of all kinds.
After pruning, fruit trees benefit by a dusting of fertilzer; a tree never really goes to sleep; you will notice the fruit buds swell between November and February. A good tonic for clay soils is basic slag, this supplies phosphates, 1 oz to 2 oz per square yard is sufficient. Kainit is also slow acting and can be applied now at the rate of 2 oz per square yard.
Take cuttings of gooseberries and currants if further plantations are required.
Lift cuttings that were rooted last year and plant them in permanent homes.
Spread manure between strawberry rows if available.
This is indeed practical gardening, nothing is wasted, and when anything has run its life – like old pea sticks, they would be burned on the cleansing bonfire, or maybe used as kindling in the house. The fire which kept the gardeners’ homes warm also supplied the ashes for the sea-kale roots and soot from the chimneys also had its uses. I don’t know if the slag mentioned would also be from domestic fires, but some of the manure would probably be collected when it appeared on the streets, deposited by the many horses which still pulled tradesmen’s carts!