Weekend Work: Time to plant up the hanging baskets

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What to do

Plant up hanging baskets, leaving a saucer-shaped dip in the compost to make watering easier. Leave the basket in a greenhouse or sheltered place indoors until plants are well established and all danger of frost has passed.

Shallow troughs can be watered more easily through a funnel jammed in the earth. This ensures that moisture soaks down to plant roots.

An overdose of fertiliser will burn grass as easily as weedkiller. Resist the temptation to add extra handfuls when you use lawn feeds. Mechanical spreaders are the best way to distribute the stuff evenly. Remember, too, that more feeding will mean more mowing.

Seedlings at various stages of growth dominate gardeners at this time of the year. My cobaeas are growing too fast, the tomatoes not fast enough. There will soon be a traffic jam on the kitchen windowsill. I have just sown seed of a carnation 'Stripes and Picotees' (Thompson & Morgan £3.49) to line out along a path beside the herbs. Germination takes from 7-14 days, then the seedlings have to be pricked out into individual 8cm (3in) pots to grow on before they can be planted out in the garden.

Stroking the tops of seedlings daily with the edge of a piece of card is said to keep them more compact. In natural conditions outside, wind compresses stem growth and young plants are not drawn up to the light as artificially as they are indoors.

Sift fresh soil over clumps of saxifrage where there are black or bare patches. Do the same for auriculas which have a tendency to heave themselves out of the soil.

What to see

The London Group of Plant Heritage (they look after old varieties of plant that may no longer be commercially available) are holding a spring plant fair today (10am-5pm) at St Mary's C of E Primary School, North Hill, Highgate, London N6 4BG. More than 15 specialist nurseries will be there, selling trees, shrubs, climbers, herbs and exotics. Plant Heritage will also be selling unusual plants raised by their members. Admission £2.50. For more information go to nccpg.com (London Group activities).

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