Weekend Work: Time to gather seeds

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The Independent Online

What to do

Seeds ripened fast in the hot weather of the first half of July. I am now gathering seed from some fine heads of angelica, a variety called 'Giga' with purple stems, much more dramatic than the all-green type.

Seeds of foxgloves are ripe, too. When I remember, I put twists of wire round their stems to remind me of the various colours. I am trying to steer away from the purple kind (which I uproot when they have finished flowering and so don't self-seed) towards the apricot and heavily-spotted kinds (which with their twists of wire get left until the seeds ripen and can be shaken over likely new breeding grounds). Often this casually scattered seed does rather better than the stuff I sow according to the book.

Pick sweet peas regularly to force the plants to produce more flowers. The star of this year's crop in our garden has been 'Blackberry' (Unwins £2.99), a chocolatey purple, with a decently strong scent.

Continue to pinch out shoots on tomatoes growing as cordons and pick vegetables such as courgettes regularly. They grow at an astonishing rate.

Train in any of the new growth of wisteria that you want to keep and prune the rest by cutting back the curling new tendrils by half. Do the final pruning in February next year, cutting these same growths right back to within a few inches of their starting point.

Disbud dahlias by pinching out the side supporting buds on each stem, leaving only the main boss bud. This produces larger flowers. If you are growing dahlias such as 'Bishop of Llandaff' in a border, though, this isn't necessary.

What to buy

When he lived in Herefordshire, Robert Milne was the most rigorous organic gardener I had ever met. Twenty years of self-sufficiency as well as eight years working as a professional gardener underpin his book, 'Organic Vegetable Growing' (How To Books, £12.99). The vegetables themselves don't appear until Chapter 7. The book starts off with Tools and Back Care and will tell you everything you ever need to know about Maintaining Soil Fertility. Urine is critical, he says. Get out that chamber pot NOW.