Gardening: Cuttings: Weekend work

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The Independent Online
RUNNER beans and French beans that have cropped to exhaustion (or stringiness) should be cleared off vegetable plots. Globe artichokes that have sprouted new growth may need protection now that the first frost has arrived. For a supply of onions as early as May next year, plant onion sets such as Unwins First Early. These don't grow half as big as later-maturing onions.

Where summer bedding looks tired, remove it so that the ground can be cleaned and fed, ready for spring bulbs or wallflowers. Fill windowboxes with fresh compost before replanting with winter pansies or bulbs. Low-growing crocuses and irises will be easier to manage than full-size daffodils, which get beaten about by wind in exposed situations. Ivy is an elegant gap-filler for winter months.

Most apples and pears should have been picked. Temperature is the most critical factor in successful storage; it should be 36-41F (3-5C). Somewhere dark and slightly damp is ideal. If you have no wooden boxes for storage, use large polythene bags with the tops left open.

House plants should be allowed to drift into semi-dormancy. Cut down on feeding (once a month is plenty) and watering, but keep the atmosphere round the plants slightly humid by misting over leaves, or standing pots on a layer of damp pebbles. Shading should be washed off greenhouses and an insulating film of bubble polythene fixed in its place.

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