Weekend work

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Weekend work

A promising line of peas has been nibbled down to the quick in my garden. Cover sowings with netting and continue to protect young pea plants from rabbits, pigeons, slugs, pea weevils and all the other creatures that like peas as much as we do.

If you garden in a dry area, souse drills well with water before sowing. Newly-planted-out annuals will need nursing along before they get established. Water and feed them well, and protect them from slugs.

Clip hedges such as Leyland cypress and privet regularly, to contain growth and prevent them spreading too wide. Cover crops of strawberries with netting to protect them from birds. Dead-head pansies and violas regularly, to prolong the display.

Sow French beans in situ. The soil is warm enough for them now, but they will need to be well watered to germinate. I had good results from `Slenderwax' (Johnsons, pounds 1.45) last year, and am growing it again this season. The creamy yellow beans are stringless, juicy and well flavoured. I'm also sowing `The Prince' (Unwins, pounds 1.59) a flat-podded variety that you need to pick young.

Hoe regularly to keep on top of weed seedlings. Onions particularly hate competition from weeds. Asparagus beds should be picked over regularly and kept free from weed.

Prune overgrown specimens of American currant, (Ribes sanguineum), choisya, kerria and exochorda. Take out a third of the stems at ground level.

Keep an eye on the wandering tendrils of clematis and tuck them into supports, well spread out so that the new shoots do not get tangled up in a bunch. The newest clematis in our garden is the pink `Bee's Jubilee', which is growing through chicken wire wound round one of the poles of the pergola. Its companion is a white perennial sweet pea, Lathyrus latifolius `White Pearl', grown last year from seed (Thompson and Morgan, pounds 1.39).

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