WEEKEND WORK

GARDENING
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The Independent Travel
The tedious task of leaf raking hangs over November like a cloud. Use the leaves rather than burn them. Pack them into a chicken-wire pen if you have room to build one; ideally around 4ft square. Packed like this, the leaves rot down to make a brilliant soil mulch. There is no need to shred them first: the slight increase in speed of rotting in no way compensates for the terrible noise.

Beech mast is at present thicker on our drive than leaves. The trees carried a very heavy crop, which keeps its structure for a surprisingly long time. I have been using the mast to resurface the paths on the bank where the fact that it does not rot is a distinct advantage. The husks crackle when you walk on them.

It is often difficult to water trees and shrubs on steep slopes. Sink an old drainpipe or plastic soft drink bottle with both ends cut off alongside the tree. Set it so the top just surfaces above the soil. Water delivered through the pipe will get straight to the tree's roots.

Dispatch lingering Hallowe'en witches by planting garlic, setting the separated cloves 6in apart in rows 1ft apart. Garlic stops growing after the longest day. By planting now, roots and shoots will be well established before the bulb has to charge off on its spring sprint.

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