Weekend Work: Protect your hosta foliage against slugs

What to do

New spears of hosta foliage will need protecting against slugs. Polyanthus flowers are also getting chewed. Between slugs and sparrows they have a hard time. Black cotton stretched between twigs foxes birds, but is a fiddly bore to set up.

Thin out flowering shoots of mophead and lacecap hydrangeas, cutting a few of the scraggier stems out at ground level. This makes them produce larger flowerheads.

Well-sprouted early potatoes can be planted where the ground is not too soggy. If conditions are not favourable, wait. The vegetables will soon make up lost ground. Seed of broad beans, parsnips and peas rots in ground that is too wet and too cold for them.

What to buy

Bamboo cloches are the best-looking and most effective solution I've yet found to keep plants safe from attack by birds, cats, badgers, rabbits, deer, dogs and footballs. I use the domed kinds which come in five sizes from 30-70cm in diameter. The biggest ones cost £45 for three, the smallest £19.50 for three, plus packing and postage. Andrew Crace, from whom I've bought the cloches, now sells a kind of tunnel cloche, also in bamboo (with closed ends of course). This is 100cm long, 40cm wide and 40cm high. It's a good-looking bit of kit and costs £49.50 for three. Contact Andrew Crace at Bourne Lane, Much Hadham, Herts SG10 6ER, 01279 842685, giftsandgardens.com

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