Vegetables in Season: Asparagus, beet, Brussels sprouts, tops of cottager's and Scotch kale, carrots, coleworts, celery, endive, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, lettuces, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, rhubarb, salsafy, shallots, turnips. The present mild weather will bring in supplies of spinach, broccolis, and all kinds of sprouts, shortly.
But, should a severe frost occur, the kitchen garden will be terribly thinned. Therefore, however well supplied you may be with vegetables, cut nothing wastefully and husband the stock. When all the good buttons are removed from the stems of Brussels sprouts (and not before), cut the top cabbages. These make a fine dish. A good supply of turnip-greens may be obtained by putting a lot of swedes in earth in a frame or under a warm wall. They must be in the full daylight, or the sprouts will have no flavour.
Asparagus Beds: Clear away weeds, and give a good dressing of rotten dung; that from an old hotbed is preferable. Cover the manure with about three inches of soil from the spaces between the beds.
Carrots: A small sowing of early horn may be made on a warm sheltered border; choose ground that was dug up roughly in the autumn, and has been thoroughly exposed to the weather. In light, sandy soil, with a little protection in sharp weather, a nice crop may be had. Old soil from the potting bench, in combination with charred and thoroughly decayed vegetable refuse, and all thoroughly incorporated together, will be invaluable for such purposes.
Cauliflowers: Those under hand-lights and in frames should have an abundance of air, whenever the state of the weather will admit of its being done with safely. To keep them hardy and stocky, take the lights entirely off for a few hours on fine days. Keep the foliage dry, and remove all decayed leaves without delay. Cover the lights with mats, straw hurdles, or long litter, on frosty nights.
Onions: A small bed of the silver-skinned sown now under the same conditions as required for the carrots will be useful for drawing for salads and flavouring.
Peas: Sow a good breadth of the first early sorts. Choose a south border, and make the rows six to eight feet apart. The peas obtain more light, and consequently bear better than they possibly can do when crowded together in the ordinary way, and the spaces between are invaluable for early potatoes, lettuce, radishes, and other early spring crops.
Take advantage of frosty weather to wheel manure and dressings of other materials on quarters from which the crops are cleared. This is an important matter, for it ruins walks to wheel upon them when they are wet and soft from the frost and rain. Turn over and mix together manure heaps, to assist the decay of the various components, and prepare them for use without further trouble when the compost is wanted in the spring.
Quick and all other hedges, with the exception of evergreens, should be cut and repaired without delay if necessary, so as to leave as little work of this kind as possible for succeeding weeks. Trenching and ridging up unoccupied quarters should be carried on with actively. The ground cannot be too rough, or too much exposed through the winter; therefore the sooner it is done, the longer time will be there for the frost to act upon it. In wet weather, instead of keeping the hands out of doors, set them to examine the various store-rooms, and clear out all the decaying fruit and roots of every description, to prevent the sound ones getting contaminated.
FRAME GROUND. - French Beans: Sow in small pots in light rich soil, and directly the pots are full of roots, repot into eight-inch pots. Another good plan is to sow in pans or boxes full of leaf-mould, and prick off into large pots when the first pair of rough leaves are developed. Place near the glass when young, to prevent their being drawn up. Take every precaution to prevent the appearance of the red-spider.
Mushrooms: Collect horse-droppings and keep them dry for succession beds. Keep a rather moist temperatures in the mushroon-house of about 55 or 60 deg., and that of the beds five degrees higher.
Potatoes: Lay sets of early sorts on the floor of the forcing-house, and in the light, to enable them to form hard purple sprouts, ready for turning out on gentle hotbed. No soil should be put over the tubers, for when they make roots they suffer from the removal to their permanent quarters.
FLOWER GARDEN. Very little work of importance can be done in this department at this season. The lawn should be thoroughly swept and rolled once a week at least, to keep a good firm bottom, and give it a clean and cheerful appearance. Gravel walks may now be turned. This should be done without disturbing the rough stuff underneath, for that is not wanted on the surface. Walks when first made should always have a sufficient depth of fine gravel on the surface to admit of their being turned over every other year if required. By turning them in a proper and workmanlike manner, they can be kept clean and in good condition for a long time.
CONSERVATORY. - Give air upon all favourable opportunities, and guard against cold currents of air passing over plants lately brought from the forcing-houses. Remove all decayed leaves and flowers, keep the paths and stages clean, and frequently re-arrange the plants. They ought to be re-arranged once a week, and when a few fresh ones are brought in, they light up the groups and give the house a beautiful appearance.
These remarks are applicable to all times and seasons, but it is especially necessary that they should receive extra attention just now, for there is little to interest out of doors, and this structure is the principal and in many instances the only resort. As there is necessarily a mixed collection of flowering plants in this structure, and derivable from various sources, some requiring a higher temperature than others, a little attention is necessary in their disposition and arrangement to make all comfortable. Camellias, heths, epacrises, and other hard-wooded plants should be arranged at the cool end. Forced bulbs, and other plants, such as primulas, justicias, euphorbias, violets, lily of the valey, and poinsettias should be kept at the warmest end. Water early in the day to allow the dampness arising therefrom to be quite dried up before night. Keep the atmosphere dry, to prolong the beauty of the plants in bloom as much as possible. An average temperature of 50 deg. to 55 deg. by day, and 45 deg. by night, will meet all requirements.