It’s not too often I get the chance to promote myself, but I have agreed to run two gardening masterclasses at this year’s Taste Cumbria in Cockermouth on September 28 and 29.

Numbers are very limited and there is a small charge of £10 to cover the materials.

Both masterclasses will start at 11am and will be the same over the two days as I will be talking about winter- and spring-flowering bulbs and demonstrating the lasagne bulb-planting technique.

I hope you can come along – to book your space click here (the link will also show what else is taking place over the weekend event) . The masterclass will last around an hour and you will have the chance to meet and talk to me on gardening matters.

What have I been busy with over the last few days? Well, now we have had a few days of dry weather I was able to plant my winter and spring brassicas and can now sit back and let them grow, though if it’s anything like last year I will need to cover them with netting to help protect them from birds (it’s getting too cold now to be concerned about butterflies and caterpillars).

The range of brassicas I planted – grown from seed a few weeks ago and pricked off into celled trays – included varieties of cabbages, cauliflower and kale which all mature at different times to ensure I have a succession of crops.

It’s a bit late to be sowing winter and spring brassicas, but you can still buy brassica plug plants online. However, it’s not too late to sow winter varieties of lettuce. Over the weekend I made direct sowings of Arctic King, Winter Density and Marvel of Four Seasons (I suspect the names are bit of a clue when these are ready to be harvested!) Interestingly Marvel of Four Seasons is a bronze/red leaved lettuce which, as its name implies, can be sown and harvested across the four seasons. I grew this one last year and was quite impressed how hardy it was, and it overwintered in the open very well indeed. (only to lose a few to rabbits!)

I would suggest that when growing winter-hardy lettuce to also grow some under cover – in a cold frame, cold greenhouse or under a cloche. This will also provide some earlier lettuce harvests.

Another type of bulb I planted over the weekend were my garlic, shallot and onion bulbs (well, in the case of garlic this was a clove rather than a bulb). These are specifically autumn-planting bulbs bred to be planted at this time of the year – the idea is that they put on some growth before the harsh winter sets in, then basically lie a bit dormant until early spring when they burst into growth.

They also mature much earlier than spring-planted ones. Make sure they are suitable for planting in the autumn, though – not all garlic, shallots and onions can be planted this soon! However, when it comes to garlic, autumn planting is much better as garlic takes quite a long time to mature and as such autumn-planted garlic tends to make larger bulbs for lifting than spring-planted ones.

Following a few strong winds which knocked back my Cape Fuchsias I was pleased to see they are now making a good recovery as you can see from this week’s photograph. Although it’s called a fuchsia it’s not one really (although its flowers do resemble that of a fuchsia).

Its foliage is semi-evergreen so holds on to most of its leaves over the winter. It’s more of a woody shrub plant than a border perennial and is best cut back hard every spring as it produces its blooms on its new growth. Left unpruned it can reach around two metres tall and will look leggy and not as attractive.

The flowers are its main feature and they do look very attractive., however the internal of the bloom often has an attractive pattern, though is difficult to see unless viewing from the ground. Although they are a native plant to South Africa, they are quite hardy here in Cumbria.