Gardening Cuttings: Weekend work

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The Independent Online
WATER pot plants. This is a job we often do not think about in spring. In some areas there has been little or no rain for a month but plenty of wind, which dries out plants even faster than sun.

The ground, at least, is far more workable than it was in its sodden state a few weeks back. In mild areas, plant early potatoes, protecting young top growth with a floating fleece of spun polypropylene. This is useful stuff. You can cover carrots with it to keep off carrot fly or spread it over young courgette plants like a duvet to keep them warm at night. The stuff I use is called Agralan. It has been wrapping up my agaves on cold nights through the winter and seems to have brought them through safely. They are under cover, but unheated cover.

Plant a row of early peas. You need a lot to get a decent meal off them, but the taste reminds you that the frozen pea is no more than an approximation of the real thing. I have sown 'Minnow' (Dobies, 89p) which produces quite short, stumpy pods packed with petit pois. It grows only to 2ft so needs minimum staking.

The second row is 'Hurst Beagle' (Marshalls, 89p), a wrinkle-seeded variety that is also dwarf-growing. Wrinkle-seeded peas are generally sweeter than round-seeded varieties, but not as hardy. Cover the drills with netting against birds. Last year I found the rooks were adept at tweaking out peas just after they had germinated.

Tie in wall shrubs such as ceanothus and climbing roses, and wall-trained fruit trees such as apricot and peach. Nip off the dead heads of daffodils before they waste their resources in producing seed. Cut down the top growths of any perennials such as campanula or Michaelmas daisy that was forgotten in the autumn. Watch where you put your feet. In reaching for my own forgotten campanulas, I trod on the newly emerging salmon-pink shoots of Paeonia mlokosewitschii. Catastrophe.

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