Country & Garden: Weekend Work

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SPINACH CAN be sown now to overwinter and give an early crop in April of next year. Spring cabbages (pictured) should be planted at least nine inches apart and protected from slugs and pigeons.

FOR A while, it looked as if building an ark would be our weekend work. Then the sun arrived again to ripen the tomatoes, which have fruited abundantly outside this year.

But they have been late in ripening. First to appear has been a small orange cherry tomato, "Sunset" (Mr Fothergills, pounds 1.90), a new variety which the seed company said scored high in their taste and sweetness trials. Compared with the five other varieties I am growing, its plants are sparse and spindly. I didn't expect much of them. But they have produced the goods and taste wonderful.

The delight of growing your own produce is that you can choose varieties on the basis of their taste, not their shape. Where some golden tomatoes I've grown in the past have split their skins too easily, "Sunset" has stayed intact. Instead, it's a big beef tomato called "Muchamiel" that's burst its seams. I bought the seed back from Spain. It's probably not used to rain.

LAWN SEED can be sown now on areas that have been well dug, raked and cleaned of stones and debris. The soil is still warm and moist, which will encourage seed to germinate and grow away fast. Sown now, it will have plenty of time to get roots established before frost takes over the ground.

MORELLO CHERRIES fruit on growth made the previous year, not on old wood. Dissuade them from fruiting only on the outer fringes of the tree by cutting away one or two of the older branches now. Take them back to a strong new shoot.

TAKE CUTTINGS of thyme by pulling off strong growing shoots and pushing them into the ground round the parent plant. They should root in four weeks. Rosemary can be rooted in the same way.