Up to the middle of May we hear of great difficulty in raising seedlings in kitchen - gardens. The long continued frosty weather and cold easterly winds are trying in the extreme. While we write there is little improvement on the past weather. Copious rain has fallen, and is succeeded by north-east winds unusually severe. On the 10th May we had 8° of frost; in some low-lying places near this they had 12°. Under such circumstances, the difficulties we hear so much of are not inventions, but stern realities. Those who have cold pits and frames at command to raise their Brassicas, etc, are safe; and we think, considering the trouble with birds, slugs, etc, it is the cheapest method of raising seedlings. Portable frames and plant-protectors, such as Bolton's, Clarke's, and others, are perhaps the most useful and serviceable. We have, on borders and sheltered places this season, done much with squares formed with bricks - others formed with slabs on edge - on which are placed old lights, thin mats, and other makeshifs; but frames made shallow, light and easily removed from one position to the other, as crops may require them, are the best and cheapest in the end.

In some places in our locality, where new Potatoes have often been dug by the end of May, or early in June, they have not come through the ground yet. Some we had under shelter of walls have been cut down to the surface, and we fear are now worthless. Brocoli, which we were considered fortunate in saving (about 100 out of 2000), are not likely to be of much service. Kale Sprouts and Savoy Sprouts are the most serviceable items we have. Out of about 1000 Brown Cos Lettuce and Batavian Endive (both now of great value) we have lost none. They were sheltered from north and east, and planted on thoroughly trenched ground, with bottom left very rough for drainage. There is much more in these amenities, while preparation for crops is being made, than some believe. Artichokes (Globe) are in many places killed. Where young sprouts from the roots can be had, they should be taken off with a heel and planted (in rich ground well broken) about 3 feet between the plants. A sowing of Peas and Beans should be made about the first to middle of this month in northern and late localities, and from the middle to the end of month in warmer and more southern districts. Early kinds are best for late sowings in districts where soil is deep and cool.

Peas are often had from late sowings of the later kinds till frost takes them. Veitch's Perfection and Ne Plus Ultra we have had fine till October in such positions. They were sown in May, and topped to make them branch out. French Beans may be sown to the middle or end of June; and where frosts are early, they could be protected with frames. Hoops and mats are also usefu1 in autumn, but cold rains kept off is of great moment in prolonging the crop. Borecole of all kinds, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Savoys, Brussels Sprouts, and every variety of the Brassica family, will require attention this month by pricking out the plants in nursery beds to become strong, or planting out those already prepared permanently. Ground which has been under good manipulation during previous years, and now made thoroughly firm for plants which have to stand the winter (especially when such a season as the past has to be encountered), will give a greater amount of safety to the crops. Those who plant with crowbar may be called lazy gardeners (they, in my opinion, are the reverse, as it is a formidable piece of work to plant in this way), but as far as my observations go, they may also be termed successful cultivators.

All who have had experience with this system know that short, strong growth is made - much firmer than loose rich soil produces. Plenty of room for winter crops is of great moment in securing hardiness. Cauliflower and Cabbage to give supplies during summer and autumn can hardly have too rich soil, and it may be trenched as required. The same applies to Lettuce, which may now be sown on very rich soil where it is to grow for use. Sowing thinly and planting the best of the thinnings answers well. Celery should be pricked out for late supplies: a few inches of solid manure, placed on a firm surface, and a little fine soil in which to plant the seedlings, is the usual practice, and I think the best for ordinary gardens. Large market-gardens cannot afford time and labour for this system of Celery raising. Plants ready may be planted out in the ridges prepared for them - whether in wide ridges to hold three or four rows, or single and double rows: in each case plenty of solid manure should be allowed. We have found Red Celery do best this season, and stand the frost better than the White. Dandelion and Chicory should be sown, if not already done; also Endive of sorts where it is required early. The latter should have a cool shady position: it is apt to run to seed when thus early sown.

Onions for salads should be sown frequently where they are used for this purpose. The main crops of Onions require proper thinning before they become thickly matted and drawn; cleaning and surface-stirring is of much importance. While they are in their early stages of growth, dustings of soot and guano during showery weather is a capital stimulant, and helps to produce large finely-formed Onions. Some are under the impression that large Onions will not keep well: our experience is the reverse. Large finely-formed Onions, with collars small like cord, bulbs 13 inches to 16 inches in circumference, are useful, and keep well to May. Turnips should be sown every ten or twelve days at this season, in small quantities to keep a regular supply; and avoid the necessity of sending to table tough and bitter roots, which is the case when they are allowed to become old and stand long on the ground. Especially if the soil is dry and in a hot position, thin all such crops in their early stages: sowing thickly is a great evil, and one which drives the spindling crop early to seed. Dustings of quicklime, fine ashes, and soot do much to prevent the destruction of the young plants.

Radishes require similar treatment; and before sowing the seed during dry hot weather, give a good soaking to the soil the night before the seed is cast into the ground. The thinning of Parsley beds and Parsnips requires special attention: those who do not thin, I fear will not have many to imitate them among the more advanced school of cultivators. Where vermin (such as wireworm) do the thinning, it is a different thing. Some very old gardeners we know do not thin their Parsley, but their name is certainly not "legion." The thinnings of Parsley, planted on a border sheltered and free from damp, will give capital supplies during winter; and a few lights or other simple protection to save labour and trouble during severe frost and snow are worth their room. Potatoes may now require a free use of prong or hoe, but it is well to be cautious not to tear up the young rootlets, as some do in their energy to "hoe and earth up: " where the shaws are very thick it is well to thin them. Light and air into the soil is an important matter when the flavour is a desideratum. Spinach should be sown in shaded and cool, deeply-worked, and highly-manured land: it should be thinned in time, or the plants will "run" and become useless.

When sown between such crops as Cauliflowers and Cabbage, the plants are used before their room is required. New Zealand Spinach is useful when grown on rich land and plenty of room afforded. Tomatoes may now be planted against walls, on back walls of pits, and in frames. There are not many places in the south even where they plant in the open fields. Those fruited in pots in rich soil and allowed to root through the bottoms are fine fruit-bearing plants. When plenty of fruit are set, give abundance of liquid-manure, and have all useless growths taken off before they get to any size. Cucumbers, Gherkins, and Vegetable Marrows may now be planted - first under protection of glass, and afterwards allowed to run over the open ground; always watering them with tepid soft water, stopping the shoots above the fruit, thinning in time, and not over-cropping the plants. Chillies may be planted in frames. Keep all surfaces clean and well hoed.

M. T.