Weekend Work: Pruning, pinching out, mulching

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The Independent Online

What to do

Prune trained fruit trees, remembering that winter pruning, in terms of persuading trees to bear fruit, is not as important as summer pruning. Winter pruning is the way to gradually build up a standard or half standard apple or pear from a young, single-stemmed whip. With big, established trees, you need do no more than cut out thin, weak shoots, or any wood that is diseased or already dead.

* Pinch out the tops of autumn-sown sweet peas, to make compact, bushy plants. Actually, I no longer sow in autumn. Too many plants were nibbled through by mice. Plants grown from an early spring sowing soon catch up.

* Check bowls of hyacinths rooting in whatever dark, cool place you have put them in, to see that the compost is not drying out.

* Mulch beds and borders, round the bottoms of currant and gooseberry bushes, round roses, climbers and wall shrubs. A good, thick mulch of mushroom compost (or your own home-made product) is the best Christmas present you can give your garden.

What to buy

* The spare convector heater I thought that I'd be able to use in the greenhouse has turned up its nose at outside work and the menders in town can't fix it. So I've turned to Two Wests & Elliott's addictive catalogue to find a new one that is specially made for greenhouses. Five models were highlighted in their table matching heaters to size of greenhouse. I've decided to buy the mid-range Duo Tropic 2KW heater at £69.95. For more details call 01246 451077; visit twowests.co.uk