Weekend Work: Time to shear back the foliage

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The Independent Online

What to do

Shear over clumps of aubrieta, arabis and other similar rock plants to remove dead flowers and reduce straggling growth. Clean candytuft and alyssum, by cutting out flowered stems. Shear back the foliage of early flowering Iris unguicularis so that the sun can warm the rhizomes.

Tree seedlings, mostly ash and sycamore, are sprouting prodigiously after a wet May. Remove them before they get too deeply entrenched.

Successional sowings of vegetables such as beetroot, carrot, lettuce (below) and radish never quite result in the smooth progression of crops recommended by the manuals. Even so, small amounts of lettuce and radish can go in, together with longer rows of beetroot and carrot to use in autumn. Water the ground before sowing rather than after.

Tomato and courgette plants need plenty of water. Sink a plastic pot beside each plant so its rim is level with the surface of the soil. Water tipped into the pots will go straight to the roots and less will be lost by evaporation. Bush tomatoes need no pinching out but other varieties need looking over a couple of times a week so that side shoots can be nipped out and plants tied in to their supports.

A high potash feed such as Tomorite helps produce plenty of flowers and fruit. If the plants are short of water, too many potash dinners may result in magnesium deficiency which shows as yellowing of the leaves between the veins. If this has happened, dose the plants with Epsom salts.

What to see

The big Plant Finders Fair at Cottesbrooke Hall, nr Creaton, Northants NN6 8PF continues today and tomorrow (10am-5.30pm). Some of the country's best nurseries will be there – Bob Brown of Cotswold Garden Flowers, Jekka McVicar of Jekka's Herb Farm, Derry Watkins from Special Plants – but there are craftsmen too, furniture makers, potters, tool makers. Admission £7.50 (children free). For more information call 01604 505808 or go to the website at cottesbrookehall.co.uk