20 DECEMBER 1940, Page 14


Unorthodox Planting

Most gardeners are slaves to the calendar, many to a point of superstition. In some Midland districts many gardeners will not plant a seed before March 18th, whatever that particular date may be supposed to signify. In both North and South Good Friday is held to be the right and proper day for planting early potatoes, whether that day Jails at the end of March or the end of April. The unorthodox, in my experience, often reap the better harvests. For this reason I am considerably attracted to the theory expressed in The Gardener's Calendar (which ought to be on every gardener's shelf) that January is not only a safe but a profitable time for the planting of main-crop potatoes. This revolutionary theory, by which late potatoes are planted three months before the earliest varieties, will shock every gardener of the conservative school. Yet the reasons given for it are perfectly sound. Root development is greatly improved ; the sets need be neither pruned nor chitted ; and, most important of all, yields are said to be extremely heavy. Pests and frosts are all that may seriously endanger the success of this scheme, but a dusting of lime will take care of the one, and the fact that dahlias left in the open ground survived 4o degrees of frost last winter will dispose of the other. Most gardeners could thus experiment with a dozen sets, and watch the results of a crop which will be two-thirds of the year in the ground.