Gardening: Weekend work

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The Independent Online
Continue to sow small quantities of radish and lettuce at two-weekly intervals to encourage a continuous supply throughout the season. I have sown `Frisby' lettuce (Dobies, 92p) for its frilly, cut-and-come-again leaves, and a different Batavian type called `Pierre Benite' (Unwins, 99p).

Sow runner beans, either inside where you can hurry them on, or directly outside. Either way, you should have a couple of loads of compost seething quietly in the trench they are to go into.

In the south, make sure that plants such as tomatoes and marrows are hardened off, before planting out. This also applies to tomato plants that you have bought in. They have often been whipped from polytunnel to sales point with no hardening off in between. In the north, wait until June before risking tomatoes outside.

Plant dahlias, covering the tubers with about 3in of soil. The bronze- leaved varieties are showy, but all dahlias are difficult to work into the average flower border. They leave large holes until midsummer and then overcompensate by crowding out their neighbours. Use them to follow on from oriental poppies, which won't be bullied.

Prune osmanthus to a well-balanced shape after it has flowered. They make attractive domes if you cut back over-ambitious leaders at this time of year.

Wise gardeners will start staking herbaceous perennials soon, before they really need it.

Keep sedums compact by cutting back the first shoots and forcing them to resprout, or by winding a web of soft string round them, attached to a short stockade of sticks set round each clump.

Continue to deadhead daffodils, leaving stems and leaves intact. This will force them to concentrate on building up next year's bulbs.

Attack bindweed, which is already curling in its hideous way through clematis and roses. Pull groundsel before it seeds. Heave out creeping buttercup, a pretty weed but a bully.

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