Weekend work

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The Independent Online
Bedding plants have been surging into garden centres all this month. When buying, check that the compost in the trays has not shrunk away from the sides - a sign that the plants have not been getting enough water. They should be bushy, compact, firm and a good colour. There should not be a mat of roots hanging out of the bottom of the tray. If the suppliers sowed seed too early, that is their problem. Don't let hustlers make it yours as well.

Keep a weekly check on growth of clematis, which can get into an unholy tangle. Tie in growths firmly where plants are set against a trellis or wall. If the clematis is scrambling over another shrub, leave it to its own devices.

Anyone who has not yet planted sweet corn outside may like to try the black polythene method. It is unsightly, but labour-saving. Plant the seeds through holes cut in heavy-duty polythene, 18in apart each way.

Plant out tender vegetables such as outdoor tomatoes. Sow French and runner beans, if you have not already done so. Earth up new potatoes as the shoots come through the soil. Cover the plants with newspaper or Agryl if there is any danger of late frost.

Remove dead flower heads from mahonia and clip over sprawling mats of aubrieta and arabis when they have finished flowering. Tie in growths of cordon-trained sweet peas and lash delphiniums firmly to their stakes as they grow.

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