Weekend Work: Time to plant celery and sow sweetcorn

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The Independent Online

What to do

Set celery plants out in trenches well laced with muck or compost. They are greedy plants and want plenty of food and water. Set them about 30cm (12in) apart in a double row, one each side of the trench.

Sow sweetcorn in a warm, sheltered place if you have not been bringing seeds on inside. To get a good set of cobs, arrange the plants in a square grid about 45cm (18in) apart each way.

Runner and French beans can safely be put out now, either as plants or seeds. Runner beans are traditionally planted 20cm (8in) apart in two lines 30cm (12in) apart, but a wigwam takes up less space. Push in poles about 20cm (8in) apart in a circle and tie them securely at the top. Try 'White Lady' (Thompson & Morgan £3.29) which has pure white flowers rather than red.

Clear wallflowers and tulips from tubs and beds to make room for the next round of planting. Replace the compost, or at least the top layer of it, before replanting containers, incorporating water retaining granules and slow-release fertiliser like Osmocote.

If you buy bedding plants, choose compact and leafy ones. Those already flowering in mid-May are signalling they are starved and want to get the business of producing seed over as quickly as possible.

Lilies will benefit from a mulch of leaves or compost. Those in pots need a weekly feed of liquid fertiliser.

Prune wall-trained specimens of japonica ('Chaenomeles japonica') when they have finished flowering. Tie in any new growths that you want to keep and cut back the rest so that only two or three sets of leaves are left.

What to see

The Chelsea Flower Show opens next Tuesday in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, London SW3. Tuesday and Wednesday are members' days but the show continues for the rest of the week with day tickets (8am-8pm) costing £45 and half-day tickets (3.30-8pm) £25. The show closes next Sat with the great sell-off of plants at tea time. To book, call 0844 338 7528. If tickets are sold out, settle back and watch the show on telly. Coverage starts tomorrow on BBC1 (6-7pm) and continues Mon-Fri on BBC1 (12.30-1pm) and BBC2 (8-9pm)

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