Plant up hanging baskets, leaving a saucer-shaped dip in the compost to make watering easier. Leave the basket in a greenhouse or sheltered place indoors until plants are established and all danger of frost has passed. Shallow troughs can be watered
more easily through a funnel jammed in the earth. This ensures that moisture soaks down to plant roots.
An overdose of fertiliser will burn grass as easily as weedkiller. Resist the temptation to add extra handfuls when you use lawn feeds. Mechanical spreaders are the best way to distribute the stuff evenly. Remember, too, that more feeding will mean more mowing.
Seedlings at various stages of growth dominate gardeners at this time of the year. My cobaeas are growing too fast, the tomatoes not fast enough. I have just sown seed of a carnation 'Stripes and Picotees' (Thompson & Morgan £1.89). These are linedout along a path beside the herbs where I can cut the flowers. Germination takes from seven to 14 days, then the seedlings have to be pricked out into individual 3in pots to grow on before they can be planted out.
Stroking the tops of seedlings daily with the edge of a piece of card is said to keep them more compact. Outside, wind compresses stem growth and young plants are not drawn up to the light as artificially as they are indoors.
Sift fresh soil over clumps of saxifrage where there are bare patches. Do the same for auriculas which have a tendency to heave themselves out of the soil.
Jim Keeling's pottery road show is in Sussex this weekend (10am-5pm) at Pashley Manor, Ticehurst, where the gardens round the 16th-century house are full of tulips. Mr Keeling will have on sale a wide range of his hand-made frost-proof flowerpots. Entry to the sale is free, admission to the garden £3. Next weekend from 12-14 May (11am-5.30pm) he will be at Newby Hall Gardens, near Ripon, North Yorkshire. Entry to the sale is free. Admission to the garden £3.50.Reuse content