WEEKEND WORK

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The Independent Online
Take cuttings of indoor plants such as coleus, trade-scantia, zebrina and busy lizzies. Take three- to four-inch long cuttings from the tips of vigorous shoots of busy lizzies and push them into pots filled with compost, lightened with vermiculite.

When they have rooted well and are growing away, pinch out the tops of the cuttings to encourage bushy growth. Take three-inch cuttings of coleus, choosing the tips of non-flowering shoots to pot up singly in John Innes No 1 compost.

Pick sweetcorn cobs when the silky tassels on the ends have begun to wither. I grew 'Fiesta' (Mr Fothergill pounds 1.65) this year and it has provided the best crop ever. Mr F says it is ideal for barbecues. I haven't tried that.

Stake the flowers you hope to be enjoying in autumn: dahlias, Michaelmas daisies, chrysanthemums and heleniums. Continue to feed and water sweet peas to prolong the display. Do not feed annuals such as nasturtium and godetia which, given such encouragement, produce too much leaf and too little flower.

Plant prepared hyacinths now for flowering at Christmas. Research done by the Dutch Bulbgrowers' Association has shown that different varieties have very precise forcing times. The white variety 'Carnergie' needs 11 weeks in a plunge bed or dark cupboard, then 22 days in the light to bring it into flower. 'Delft Blue' has a quicker turnaround time: nine weeks in the dark, followed by 23 days in the light.

The ideal temperature for the preliminary forcing is about 48F. Anything cooler will retard the bulbs too much; anything warmer will result in lanky leaf growth.

Lawn seed can be sown now in areas that have been well dug, raked and cleared of stones. If you haven't had much rain you will need to water the ground before you sow. Cats scraping at the seed are likely to be as much of a menace as birds. Netting seems to be the answer.

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