Weekend Work: Time to tend to sweet peas
Saturday 18 December 2010
* If you sowed sweet peas back in the autumn and the mice haven't already eaten them, pinch out the growing tops of the young plants. This forces buds lower down into growth so that you end up with a plant that has three stems rather than just one. Pinching out is best done when the plants are about 8cm (3in) tall.
* Bring bulbs such as ‘Paperwhite’ narcissus and bowls of hyacinths into the warmth in batches so as to get as long a flowering succession as possible. With care, you should be able to keep the flow inside going until bulbs such as early crocus start to flower outside.
* If you have a greenhouse or a cold frame, continue to make successional sowings of easy salad crops such as mustard and cress, radishes, rocket and lamb's lettuce. *Complete any pruning of vines before the end of the year. Vine sap starts to rise very early in the New Year. If you cut canes then, they bleed copiously, which weakens the plant.
Bulbs are the stars of the show currently running at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art at Kew Gardens. The 18th century genius, Georg Dionysius Ehret is perhaps the most famous of the artists on show, but this is also a chance to admire some of the splendid botanical books in Kew's library, illustrated by some of the same artists. The show runs until 3 January and the gallery is open daily (9.30-4.15). Normal admission charges (£13.90) apply.
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