Gardening: Cuttings: Weekend work

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The Independent Online
LIKE a drunk at a party, you find yourself saying the same things over and over again in May: weed, sow, hoe, mulch, train, tie in, support. Gardening, like housework, is mostly a matter of doing the same jobs over and over again, but, unlike housework, there is something worthwhile at the end of the labour.

Nip out any weak growths in congested clumps of delphinium. Sift fresh compost over clumps of saxifrage to fill in any dead patches. Dead-head pansies regularly.

Finish planting potatoes and continue to make successional sowings of carrot and salad crops. Sow parsley, chervil and coriander. Plant out sweet peas that have been raised indoors. Keep an eye on clematis. Varieties such as 'Jackmanii Superba' are growing phenomenally fast and shoots need to be untangled and trained against a support.

This is a good time to attack ground elder with a weedkiller based on glyphosate (Roundup, Tumbleweed). It is said to be at its most susceptible just as the leaves have unfolded. I use an old tin tray as a guard when I am spraying among established shrubs, which is the sort of place where ground elder is most likely to get a hold. In ground that is regularly chivvied, such as a vegetable patch, it cannot get a hold.

Mulching will keep down the population of easy annual weeds such as meadow grass and groundsel, but ground elder, like bindweed, waxes fat under a mulch.

Dead-head daffodils, but do not be tempted to cut back foliage. And do not mow grass in which bulbs have been growing until all the foliage has died down. Feed tulips with Maxicrop to boost the bulbs for an even better display next year.

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