Gardening: weekend work

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The Independent Online
Water plants growing in pots. This is a job that, though obvious in summer, we often do not think of during spring. In some areas there has been no rain to speak of for a couple of weeks, but plenty of wind, which dries out plants even faster than sun.

Plant early potatoes in mild areas. The ground, at least, is far more workable than it was in its sodden state during February. If necessary, protect young top growth when it emerges, with a floating fleece of spun polypropylene. This is useful stuff. You can cover carrots with it to keep off carrot fly, or spread it over young courgette plants like a duvet to keep them warm at night. The stuff I use is called Agralan. It has been wrapping up my agaves on cold nights through the winter and seems to have brought them through safely. They are under cover, but unheated cover.

Plant a row of early peas. You need a lot to get a decent meal from them, but the taste reminds you that the frozen pea is no more than an approximation of the real thing. I have sown `Douce Provence' (Marshalls, pounds 1.04), which is sweeter than `Feltham First'. It grows to only 2ft, so needs minimum staking. Cover the drills with netting against birds. Last year I found the rooks were adept at tweaking out peas just after they had germinated.

Tie in wall shrubs such as ceanothus and climbing roses, and wall-trained fruit trees such as apricot and peach.

Nip off the dead heads of daffodils before they waste their resources in producing seed.

Cut down the top growths of any perennials, such as campanula and Michaelmas daisy, that got forgotten in the autumn. Watch where you put your feet. In reaching for my own forgotten campanulas I trod straight on to the newly emerging, salmon-pink shoots of Paeonia mlokosewitschii. Catastrophe.

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