Gardening: Cuttings

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The Independent Online
Weekend work

GUY FAWKES DAY was traditionally the start of the lifting season in the days before containerisation, when all plants were grown in the open ground. November is still a good month to plant trees and shrubs if the weather remains open and dry. The winds that followed the relentless rain of early October have dried the soil out to a pleasant texture and roots can still make some growth before they fall dormant.

You can plant fruit trees and bushes this month too: apples, pears, blackcurrants, gooseberries and raspberry canes. Where fruit trees are grafted on to a rootstock, as they usually are, make sure that the join, which is fairly obvious, remains above ground. Dig a hole about twice the size of the root ball when you are planting and spread the roots out so that the tree will be well anchored.

If you find moss offensive, there is still time to treat lawns with a moss killer, but this should be done before the middle of the month. Lawns should not need cutting any more. Clean the mower thoroughly before storing it.

Sow an early row of broad beans, using a hardy variety such as 'Aquadulce Claudia'. Beans sown now should be producing a useful crop by June. Spread netting over the row to deter birds and mice from taking the seed.

Check houseplants for pests such as mealy bugs, which tend to congregate in the joints between the leaf and the stem of the plants. Pick the bugs off by hand or spray with an insecticide.

Sozzle your slugs

CHRISTINE NAEGELE writes from Frankfurt with a slug remedy for Sue Bourne (Independent, 25 September). She, too, hates killing slugs because it is messy. Christine suggests filling a few empty yoghurt beakers up to a third with beer and sinking them in the ground wherever you want to protect something particularly dear to your heart. (If this is done cleverly under a leaf nobody need ever know.) 'Slugs can't resist the smell of beer and, regarding this as a sort of permanent Oktoberfest, will hurl themselves into it, where they will get extremely sozzled and drown,' she says. 'A lovely way to go. Perhaps this principle of leaving the choice whether to live or to die to the slugs will be more acceptable than outright murder.'

Barbican talks

IF YOU can find Level 8 at the Barbican (if you can find the Barbican, which is my big problem) in London, you will discover a massive and well-planted conservatory, part tropical jungle, part Salt Lake City, taking in Madeira in between. There are 2,000 different plants here, from cacti to bougainvillaea, which flowers 70 feet up in the conservatory roof.

The space disguises the theatre's double height fly tower, built for the RSC's scenery, but has acquired an important life of its own. At 2pm most Sundays through the winter, there is a series of gardening talks in the conservatory. Tomorrow you can learn about propagating plants from stems, leaves and roots. On 21 November the subject is potting techniques and the relative merits of loam-based and soil- less composts. Book tickets ( pounds 1.50) on 071-382 7021.