Weekend Work: Time to prune fruit trees

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The Independent Online

What to do

If you grow fruit trees trained as cordons, fans or espaliers, pruning is a must. Shorten all mature side shoots to within three leaves of the basal cluster. New shoots springing from existing shoots or spurs should be cut back to within one leaf of the base.

Summer pruning encourages fruiting spurs. Winter pruning stimulates leaf growth. Apples such as 'Ellison's Orange', which tend to fruit too heavily, should be thinned out again if necessary. Early varieties such as 'George Cave' are ready for picking now.

Take cuttings of indoor plants such as coleus, tradescantia, zebrina and busy lizzies. Use 7cm (3in) long cuttings from the ends of vigorous shoots of busy lizzies and push them into pots filled with a compost-sand or compost-vermiculite mixture. When they are growing well, pinch out the tops of the cuttings to encourage bushy growth.

Take 7cm (3in) long cuttings of coleus, choosing the tips of non-flowering shoots to pot up singly using John Innes No 1 compost.

What to see

If you've finally managed to get an allotment but are unsure how best to use it, get ideas from the special site set up in London's Kensington Gardens, open to visitors all year (royalparks.org.uk). For training allotment courses at Regent's Park, visit capitalgrowth.org/training.