Weekend work: Time to plant grape vines

 

What to do

* Plant grape vines as soon as you can if you have visions of a Roman summer next year, lying under a leafy arbour, waiting for the fruit to drop in your mouth. 'Royal Muscadine' will crop outside, but it grows prodigiously and you need warmth in late summer to sweeten the fruit. You also need to rig up netting against birds.

* Cultivated blackberries need attention. Cut out the old fruited canes and tie in new growths, either along horizontal wires, or in a fan shape. Tips of new canes may have rooted where they touched the ground. Cut these ends off and pot them up if you want more plants.

* November is a good month to plan hedge planting. If you are thinking of putting in a hedge on an exposed site, plants will establish more easily if you make a screen on the windward side. Evergreens have a lot of wind resistance and tend to rock when it blows, so that roots find it difficult to get a hold in the earth. Hessian or doubled-over plastic netting is better than a solid screen.

* Lay new turf if the ground is sufficiently moist. Fork over the ground to get rid of all weeds and rake the tilth so that the surface is even. Use a line to keep the turves straight and lay them so the joints are staggered like brickwork. Sift soil into any gaps and firm down by banging with a rake head.

What to buy

* Early November is the best time to plant tulips. For a rich effect, perfect for picking, try mixing a purple tulip such as 'Havran' or 'Saigon' with a bronze orange tulip such as 'Request' or 'Prinses Irene'. All are Triumph types of tulip, which will flower in late April and early May. They vary hugely in price, but expect to pay about £2.99 for eight or 10 bulbs.

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