GARDENING: Jobs for the weekend

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•STOP weeds before they start in earnest. Cover a weedy, empty patch of ground with black plastic, cardboard or carpet to stop unwanted plants growing until you have time to deal with them. On already cultivated ground, hoe weeds as they emerge and don’t let them seed, but don’t damage the emerging shoots of perennials. If you are blighted with perennial weeds such as bindweed and brambles, just keep digging them out.

•Russian comfrey plants – Bocking 14 – are a must to make your own plant food. The leaves can also be used as a compost activator, a mulch or a liquid feed. Bocking 14 won’t take over your garden – but beware – the plant food it makes absolutely stinks!

•Continue to prick out seedlings before they become straggly. Shade seedlings in the greenhouse on sunny days, as they can quickly wilt and die. Don’t water seedlings with cold water direct from the water butt or hosepipe. Keep a couple of cans filled and inside the greenhouse so the water is at the ambient temperature.

•Top-dress containers. Scrape the top 4cm/2ins of soil off, and replace with new compost. Finish with a layer of horticultural grit to retain moisture.

•Make sure automatic vents in the greenhouse are working properly, and open the door on sunny days. Temperatures will soar inside a closed greenhouse. Avoid fungal diseases by watering from below to avoid wetting foliage. Don’t let plants stand in (still icy cold) water for longer than 10 minutes.

•Tidy lawn edges with a half-moon edger – it makes a huge difference to the general appearance.

•Feed hedges with a top dressing of garden compost or well-rotted manure, or mulch with lawn mowings.

•Plant evergreen hedges. Prepare the site well, adding a couple of handfuls of garden compost per plant. Water well over the next few months as the plants settle in.

•There is still time to divide overgrown clumps of herbaceous perennials. Water well after transplanting, and keep moist in dry spells.

•Slugs and snails will become very active. Most newly emerging shoots will be at risk. Act now and destroy their egg clusters, translucent milky spheres, usually laid in nooks and crannies in the soil, and down the sides of pots. Delphiniums and newly-emerging hostas in particular are at risk.