in War by E. J. KING, M.A., F.R.H.S.
LAST week I mentioned the need for sowing onions as early as possible if big bulbs are to be obtained. It is not only prize sorts which are treated thus, as some growers imagine; any onion responds to generous treatment. Don't forget that all British onions are quite hardy and don't want
coddling. For all that, it pays to give them just that extra touch of warmth now which will bring them into early and sturdy growth.
Good long-keeping sorts of onions are Giant Rocca, Bedfordshire Champion, and James's Keeping. All are vigorous. If you dry them off well in autumn they will keep till late spring and even early summer. Get your seed of these excellent varieties now. The ffist-named is flat, the others are round. They can all be transplanted in April from present sowings, and in the meantime there can be prepared a rich site for outdoor sowings in early March. The Ministry of Agriculture is eager that 20,000 more acres should be cropped with onions. Do your bit.
If the leaves only of broad beans peeping through the soil have been frost bitten, it does not signify failure. Of course, they are better without it, and are readily protected from frnst with leaves Of ashes as I have previously suggested. If, however, the whole plant is obviously dead, a fresh start must be made. In warm places on welldrained soil January and February sowings often succeed. It often pays, too, to start some seeds in a hox in a cool greenhouse or cold frame. Maincrops will not, of, course, be aOWD for some considerable time.
This vital crop needs present attention. If you saved your own seed tubers last autumn and have them stored away somewhere you will notice that the eyes are just beginning to send out young shoots. This indicates that growth is ready to begin. It is natural, therefore, and not artificial to allow the plants to make this growth before putting them out in March and April. By rights, they ought to be in the soil pretty soon; but this is impossible in our climate on account of the danger of late frost on the young foliage. However, we give potatoes the next best by allowing them to sprout in shallow boxes in a cool place where there is plenty of light. Light keeps the young growth stocky and dark. If the shoots are long and white, the situation is too dark and warns. The growth should be as natural as possible. There is no earth in these sprouting boxes, and the tubers should be in a single layer.
Of course, if you can't manage to do this, your potatoes will still grow when you put them out unsprouted at the usual time, but growing-time is lost (and for particular reasons this makes a vast difference in the potato plant) and crops are later and smaller.
SORTS TO GROW Unless your garden is very large and you can grow quite enough to last you over the winter well into March and April, don't grow any maincrop varieties. Some second earlies last just as long, and are quicker out of the way. Home gardens need the space on which maincrop potatoes are often allowed to linger in autumn.
First earlies, second earlies and maincrop are all planted at about the same time (I.e., March-April), but maincrops yield later crops and these are usually heavier. However, you must know that for the extra potatoes thus yielded you surrender a great many vegetables which the plot might have borne, and these are usually more expensive than potatoes to buy in shops.
Buy your seed potatoes now, and buy them from local dealers (to avoid delay and disappointment natural in war-time) firstclass Scotch or Irish seed of the following varieties. First early—Arran Pilot; second early, Arran Comrade. Maincrop, Gladstone, or Majestic. All those are heavy bearers, excellent in quality, and good keepers. Begin to sprout them now.