Gardening: Beds of honour

Weekend work: Anna Pavord takes action in the garden
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l Plant onions, but not before you have spent some virtuous hours in making a comfortable bed for them. An onion set is not man enough to heave great clods of earth on its shoulders. Knock back any lumps of soil with the back of a rake, then rake over the surface and plant the sets roughly 6in apart. The rows should be about 12in apart. You do not necessarily have to include onions in the normal rotation of vegetable crops. They can be grown in the same place for several years.

l Sow annuals such as lobelia and snapdragon. Use a pot for this initial sowing, rather than a seed tray. Gently firm down the compost in the pot and scatter the seed as thinly and evenly as you can over the surface. Water it in using a fine rose on the watering-can. Both lobelia and snapdragon need light to germinate, so cover the seed thinly after sowing. I use vermiculite rather than compost, as there is is less danger of the seeds being smothered. Both these flowers take two or three weeks to germinate.

l Continue to clean through flower beds during spring. The relatively mild, wet winter in much of the country has favoured bully boys such as creeping buttercup - which is not a weed that you can shift with a casual tweak while you are on your way to do something else. It needs a fork under it. Its roots make formidable anchors.

l When you have weeded, mulch with compost, leaf mould, mushroom compost. or well rotted manure.