Cuttings: Frost wars

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The Independent Online
This is an anxious time for gardeners surrounded by geraniums, fuchsias, and succulents such as agave and aloe. Any time now frost will declare the opening of hostilities. In parts of the North it already has. At the first signs of withering, shift non-hardy fuchsias in their pots into a cool frost-free place. Water very little during the winter. Lift established geraniums and stack them in boxes of compost in a cool, frost-free place. Do not water, but allow the leaves to die off. You can leave them there until next year, but if space is tight, wrap the rootballs in polythene bags with a little damp compost, tie the bags in bundles and hang up until spring. You should already have taken cuttings.

Take cuttings of gooseberry, blackcurrant and redcurrant. Use pencil-thick growths of gooseberry, about 1ft long. Trim just above a bud at the top, just below a bud at the bottom. Nip off all leaves except a few at the top. In a light soil, push the cuttings in immediately, up to half their length. On heavy soil, line cuttings out into a narrow trench, firming soil around them afterwards. Redcurrant cuttings need similar treatment. With blackcurrants, leave no more than two buds above ground.

October is a good month to sow grass seed, but you need to prepare the site well first. If you have dug or rotovated, allow the earth to settle for a week before you sow. Rake the ground to level it and to get rid of stones. Sow half the seed along the length of the lawn, the rest across the width, which helps distribute the seed evenly. If your seed is not treated with bird repellent, cover with netting.

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