STRAWBERRIES will need
plenty of protection if we are .to harvest any. The frost has left little soft fruit this year, so what there is is well worth saving. A blackbird will get through a very tiny hole, so be warned I As the cloches are used much less now than in spring. anyone who has any can put them over the strawberry plants just as the first fruits come ripe. Rain is also kept off in this way.
Blackcurrants do not normally need protection unless you are very unfortunate, but it is a different story with red and white currants. If you do not grow your bushes in a cage, you can often erect a temporary one by means of fish net over a small wooden frame. Gooseberries picked green are seldom spoiled by birds before the gardener gets them . but where dessert varieties arc grown until they are fully ripe, protection is necessary. Cherries, of course, need netting, but where netting is impracticable one or other of the following devices can be adopted. You can either run a few reels of black cotton round the tree to frighten off most of the birds by its unseen barrage-threads; or you can fasten brightly-coloured bits of material or paper in the tree; the best colours are blue or silver. This is about the only season when birds generally are a nuisance, except for some useless creatures like sparrows and pigeons and jays. The blackbird even now feeds his growing family on all kinds of pests, as well as your fruit.
REST YOUR RHUBARB Rhubarb was always considered rather a joke in peace-time. Many a dishonoured root has come into its own. In fact, rhubarb looks like coming to an untimely end in many fruitless districts. It is a great mistake to cut more than a few odd sticks after the middle of June, particularly where the season has been dryer than usual. Instead give the stools a rest, and feed them up a bit with liquid manure or similar stimulants.
Asparagus should also be rested. This delicacy which stops a hungry gap should now be allowed to grow up naturally. Incidentally, it is very easy to grow from seed. The only thing is that you have to wait about two or three years for it to begin yielding.
Loganberries and raspberries should be watched for the grubs of the beetle which infests them, and sprayed with derris now, before it is time to harvest them. Blackberries look like yielding well this year; cultivated kinds should be safeguarded against these pests also.
The seeds of biennial flowers may now be sown to celebrate what we hope will be a victory spring.