Country & garden: Weekend Work

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The Independent Culture
ROUGH-DIG areas of the vegetable garden that you have cleared. Frost will then have a chance to get into the clods of earth and break them down. Spread compost or muck over the vegetable garden and start mulching round trees and shrubs with fresh collars of heavy organic matter.

PLANT CLOVES of garlic, choosing a sunny, well drained site with soil as light as you can make it. Break a head of garlic into separate cloves and push them into the ground in the same way as you would shallots. Set them about 6in apart. I always try to get hold of English-grown garlic to use as sets. Different strains are selected for different climates. Health food shops are a good source of supply. Cover the cloves with netting to stop birds tweaking them out. They will be ready to harvest by late July or early August.

TREE MALLOWS are not my thing, but if you have them, you should cut them down this month to about 2ft high. If they are still flowering, delay the cutting down until they have finished. They do not always survive the winter. If you forgot to take cuttings in September and there are still shoots on the bush, try taking a few now. You need nodal cuttings, about 5in long, taken from shoots of semi-ripe wood. Make the cut through the slight bulge where the leaves join the stem and pull off the bottom leaves before potting the cuttings up, each one in a separate small pot. Keep them in a greenhouse or a frost-free garden frame.

YOU CAN also take hardwood cuttings now from a wide range of shrubs such as forsythia, kerria, philadelphus and weigela. For this you need cuttings about 9in long, taken from ripe wood. Choose growths that are pencil-thick. Remove soft growth at the top and any remaining leaves. Stick them upright in the ground so that the bottom two-thirds of the cutting is underground. Hardwood cuttings root more slowly than softwood ones and may not be ready to shift until next autumn.