Cuttings: Weekend work

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PLANT onions, but not before you have spent some virtuous hours making a comfortable bed for them. Knock away any lumps of soil, then rake over the surface and plant the sets six inches apart. The rows should be about a foot apart. Onions do not require the normal rotation of vegetable crops; they can be grown in the same place for several years.

Last year I grew a purplish onion, 'Red Brunswick', without success. This year I am back to 'Sturon', which was highly commended in the Royal Horticultural Society's trials and produces rounded, pale straw-coloured onions.

Sow annuals such as lobelia and snapdragon. Use a pot for this initial sowing rather than a seed tray. Firm down the compost gently, and scatter seed as thinly as you can over the surface. Water with a fine rose on the watering can. Lobelia and snapdragon need light to germinate, so cover the seed very thinly; I use vermiculite rather than compost, because it is less likely to smother the seeds. Both these flowers take two or three weeks to germinate.

Continue to clean flower beds; mild winters favour bully boys such as creeping buttercup. After weeding, mulch with compost, leaf mould, mushroom compost or well-rotted manure.