Time to think about planting spring bulbs
Almost every day for the past few weeks I have had a different bulb catalogue dropping through my letterbox.
There seem to be so many to choose from this year and every page you turn the blooms seem to be better than the previous page.
I am sure like me you have visited the National Trust properties in the spring and stood in amazement at the huge drifts of snowdrops, or the grass banks covered in magnificent daffodils, the huge stone urns filled with brightly coloured tulips.
Without doubt this is by far the most impressive way to grow spring bulbs but I am sure like me you haven’t a large grassy area in your garden to grow bulbs in this way.
I have found the trouble with spring bulbs is they tend to get blown about in the early spring winds and then within a few weeks they begin to finish for the year.
I find the best way to get over this problem is to plant them in a pot. I mix up some multi-purpose compost with a few good handfuls of coarse grit. Get a large pot and fill up the bottom with about eight inches of the compost.
Select your favourite coloured tulips. Tulips tend to get quite tall and so I find it is best to pick a variety which are between 30 and 40 cm tall. This gives them a better chance of staying upright.
Space them out evenly on top of the compost being careful that they don’t touch each other or the sides of the pot.
Cover the tulips with a couple of inches of compost. Next I plant Narcissi. Again try and select a shorter variety. Cover these with another couple of inches of the compost. On top of these, plant blue and white Crocus. Cover these with a final layer of compost.
By planting your pots in this way, you should see the Crocus popping through in late February or early March. When these have died off the Narcissi should be coming through and finally the Tulips. This should give you a display in your pots until the beginning of May.
This week I pulled the final carrots that I had planted in the middle of June when the autumn grown onion sets had been harvested. There were a few more in the ground than I expected and so I decided to make some carrot soup which was delicious and very easy to make.
Just chop up a pound of carrots, two sticks of celery, a small onion peeled and sliced, a large potato sliced, one ounce of butter, one and a half pints of chicken stock, bouquet garni, a pinch of nutmeg and about a quarter of a pint of milk.
Just melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the vegetables for a few minutes. Transfer to a saucepan and add the stock and bouquet garni. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
Let it cool and pour it into a processor. Blitz until creamy. Pour it back into the saucepan and heat it up. Thin with the milk, add the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Serve with a good chunk of crusty bread.