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Best of the Bunch Catkins galore - Your fruit and vegetable weekly update 1 Vegetables - sow Broad beans in small containers for planting out at the end of the month. Plant shallots and garlic in well-prepared beds over the next few weeks as well as onion sets. Warm up a piece of ground with a polythene cover to get early sowings of peas and lettuce in two to three weeks time. Put seed potatoes in egg boxes on a bright but cool windowsill to sprout as soon as they arrive in the post. Sow parsley, coriander and basil now in a warm sunny windowsill for fresh herbs.

2 Fruit - plant bare-rooted cane fruits and bush fruits now in well-prepared ground and apply a good general fertiliser to help them establish. Complete any pruning of autumn raspberries, apples and pears, currants and gooseberries now before it is too late.

HAVE you noticed the number of trees that are starting to produce those pollen laden male catkins recently? In my own garden I have Corylus (Hazel), Betula (Birch) and Alnus (Alder) doing their thing and they are adding another interesting dimension to the mid-winter garden that is not startling but nevertheless produces a point of interest and shows us that, despite the ravages of winter, our trees are starting to wake up and the sap is starting to rise once again.

Naturally, while the male catkins elongate and start to shed their DNA laden pollen, the female flowers of these trees are getting ready to receive the pollen, hopefully in large quantities, so that fertilisation can take place and hundreds of thousands of seeds will be formed to help ensure that the next generation can follow. Isn't nature incredible? Many of these seeds become My diary...

. POTATO DAYS - are you a spudophile? Do you search out weird and wonderful potato varieties to grow in your garden? Well, there are two Potato Days coming up that you should not miss. February 19 from 10am to 2pm is the West Yorkshire Organic Group's Potato Day at Shipley College, Saltaire, near Bradford. Visit www.wyog.org.uk for more details.

Calder Valley Organic Group are holding theirs on February 26 at the Church of the Good Shepherd, New Road, Mytholmroyd - over 40 varieties to choose from and expert help and guidance.

Visit www.cvog.org or call 07977 essential food for small garden birds during the autumn and winter or, in the case of the hazel, food for hungry squirrels in October and November.

The trees that I am referring to include Betula pendula, our native silver birch, Betula utilis 'Jacquemontii', the Himalayan birch with white peeling bark, Corylus avellana 'Contorta', the corkscrew hazel with its strange twisted and distorted stems and Alnus glutinosa, the native alder.

Of course there are many other species and cultivars of these trees to choose from and a chat with staff at garden centres and retail nurseries now will probably show up some of them for you to select from.

Check out these three Genus in the RHS Plant Finder book or on the RHS website at www.rhs.org.uk to get a full and definitive list.

929684 for more details.. SOUTH Crosland and Netherton Gardeners' Association Spring Show - this annual celebration of spring is always a delight to see and this year they are celebrating their 70th year.

The show is open to the public from 3pm, with tea and cakes being served from 2.30 onwards on March 19 at the Netherton Methodist Church, Chapel Street, Netherton.

For a copy of the schedule contact Michele Heeley on 01484 666104.

I have been asked to open this year's show so do call in, enjoy the show and have a chat with lots of like-minded people.

* SOW AND PRUNE: Above, start sowing fresh herbs such as coriander now. Below, start pruning raspberries now * CATKINS: Our trees are starting to wake up and the sap is starting to rise once again

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CATKINS: Our trees are starting to wake up and the sap is starting to rise once again SOW AND PRUNE: Above, start sowing fresh herbs such as coriander now. Below, start pruning raspberries now
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Feb 5, 2011
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