Gardening Cuttings: Weekend work

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ALL the vegetables that hate frost can be sown now. There is at least a fighting chance that we won't have snow in June. Sow French beans, setting them 3in apart in rows 18in apart. Sow sweetcorn in blocks, setting the seeds 18in apart in rows 18in apart.

Sow biennials such as sweet william, forget-me-not, foxglove and honesty and perennials (aquilegias, violas, primulas) outside now to flower next year. Move the plants to their permanent positions in early August.

Watch out for blackfly homing in on the broad beans and pinch out the tips of the plants where necessary. Aphids are also clustering under the new leaves of my gooseberry bushes, giving all the new shoots a wrinkled, diseased appearance. I have been waiting for birds and ladybirds to deal with the problem, but they are evidently busy elsewhere. I shall have to spray with Rapid (ICI) instead.

Oceans of bedding plants are now flooding into garden centres. Before you buy, check that the compost in the trays has not shrunk away from the sides and that the plants are bushy, compact, firm and a good colour. There should not be a mat of roots hanging out of the bottom of the tray. Resist the temptation to buy plants that are already in flower. Before planting, add a handful of general purpose fertiliser, such as Gromore, to each square yard of ground.

Cauliflower tips AFTER my catalogue of cauliflower flops, Mr Hunt of Norwich writes with a foolproof (he says) way of growing them. 'Apply Gromore at the rate of 8oz a square yard and lightly fork in before planting. Space plants 2ft 6in apart. When plants show signs of entering period of rapid growth, apply nitrate of soda close to the stem at the rate of one handful to three plants. Water well. This is usually about 10 weeks from sowing. A recommended variety is 'Dok Elgon' '.