Gardening Cuttings: Weekend work

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The Independent Online
ALTHOUGH cultivated plants are flagging dreadfully in the heat, bindweed (in my locality called withy winder) is flourishing unabashed. This gives a ghastly indication of how deep its roots must be. August is a good month to spray this pernicious strangler with a herbicide based on glyphosate (Monsanto's Roundup).

For such herbicides to do their job well you need to ensure they have contact with maximum leafage. If you have the patience, or if the bindweed is scrambling over a shrub or fruit bush you do not want to kill, unpick it from the branches and bundle it into a plastic sack. Spray the leaves inside the sack. Japanese knotweed and mare's-tail, another two nightmare weeds, are also best dealt with now.

Dahlias are anxious to zoom into flower but should be disbudded until a good strong framework of leaf and stem has been built up. Various greenhouse plants such as begonia, heliotrope and plumbago can be propagated now from stem cuttings.

Check cordon tomatoes regularly to nip out side shoots growing in the axils between leaf and stem. Tie in the main stem frequently to its supporting cane. Watch out for new stems sprouting from the base of the plant. Sometimes these will grow almost as tall as the proper stem before you notice. Watch out also for blight which can spread from potatoes to tomatoes (it has just hit my bed of 'Gardener's Delight' tomatoes) and spray with a fungicide such as Benlate.

Cut down rampant self-seeders such as Jacob's ladder and alchemilla, which is just beginning to look decidedly second-hand. New mounds of leaves will soon cover up the savage holes. Cut down dead spires of ligularia and campanula. Where there is a late-flowering clematis at hand (the viticellas are ideal) tweak a few strands over the foliage of cut-down herbaceous plants to provide new splashes of colour.