GARDENING: Jobs for the weekend

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•THIS is the start of the main sowing period (March-May) for a huge variety of hardy annuals, half-hardy annuals and vegetables. Judge by the weather, the current conditions and what protection you can provide whether it’s time for you to sow or not. Seeds will rot in freezing or waterlogged conditions outside – try starting crops off in modules in a cold greenhouse/coldframe or propagator, then hardening off to be planted out. IF IN DOUBT, PUT IT OFF!

•Sow seeds in modules/pots in an unheated greenhouse: broad beans, leeks, lettuce, rocket, coriander, peas and Swiss chard. Sow sweet peppers, tomatoes, chillis, cucumbers, aubergines, celery, salads and globe artichokes in a propagator.

•Sprinkle granular fertiliser around clumps of spring bulbs.

•This is the best month for planting roses in heavy soils or in cold areas. Don’t plant a rose where one was grown before, otherwise new introductions may suffer from replant disease. Feed plants with a granular rose fertiliser as they come into growth. Prune established bush and standard roses as they start growing but before any leaves unfurl.

•Buy and plant shrubs and perennials as soon as possible. It gives them more time to get their roots established before the growing season – drought and heat kill more first-year plants than the cold.

•Cut back ornamental grasses and other herbaceous perennials to make way for the new growth. Lift and divide large clumps of hosta, or any other hardy perennial with a crown. Plants infested with couch grass and other perennial weeds should be lifted so the roots of the weeds can be removed. Improve the soil by digging in organic matter before replanting. Add copper rings to pots to protect plants from slugs and snails.

•Cut off old leaves of hellebores that produce flowers from ground level to expose the flowers and remove hellebore leaf spot.

•Continue to deadhead winter-flowering pansies. Watch out for downy mildew and black spot. Remove any infected leaves and destroy badly-affected plants.

•Aphids can multiply rapidly during mild spells. Protect sweet pea plants in particular, as they can get sweet pea viruses, which are transmitted by the sap suckers