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CUTTING BACK IN THE GARDEN; Clive Edwards advises us on which shrubs need to be cut back and other jobs to do this week.

Byline: Clive Edwards

THE risk of frost has passed so now is the time to cut back tender shrubs such as penstemon and hardy fuchsias.

Also flowering shrubs such as weingela, philadelphus and deutzia can be cut back after they have flowered towards the end of the month. Cut out some of the oldest wood right down to the base.

Watering is essential once the weather is drier and warmer. Water thoroughly once or twice a week rather than little and often.

Containers and hanging baskets need watering every day and sometimes twice if it is hot and windy. Hoe beds and borders to get rid of weeds before they set seed.

Keep an eye on your roses, spray with a fungicide to ward off black spot and mildew. This is best done in the evening to avoid harming any bees.

If any infection has set in, remove the damaged leaves. Do not compost them, but remove them from the site and feed with a foliar feed.

Hellebore can also be cut back, so remove all old foliage and feed with a general fertiliser.

Petunias, marigolds and other annuals will benefit from pinching and deadheading.

Pinching means removing the growing tips when branches are four to 6in long which causes the plants to produce side shoots. Deadheading means removing spent blooms. Feed bedding and container plants every two weeks. Clementis montana can be pruned once it has finished flowering. Make sure its roots are covered with a mulch to keep them cool.

On the vegetable plot there is still time to sow main crop peas, beetroot, carrots, courgette and sweetcorn. It is a good idea to soak the seed drill before sowing.

Early potatoes can be lifted this month. Later potatoes can be earthed up to prevent light getting to them and turning green.

Leeks can be planted. Ideally they want to be the thickness of a pencil. Do not remove the roots or leaves as this has been proven to have no benefit, just water them in a hole about 4in deep and 2in wide.

Continue to thin out carrots and beetroot which were sown earlier.

Apples and plums can be thinned out, they will shed any excess fruit, this is known as June Drop.

Water when the fruit is swelling. This is critical to get a good crop.

Ask Clive Q I have a Russian vine which has never been pruned. When is the best time to do it? A The Russian vine, polygonum baldschuanicum, is a rampant climber. It is most effective when allowed to ramble without pruning. However, when this becomes necessary, do it in late winter, cutting back the growth hard.

Q I bought a compost bin some years ago but I've not been able to dry out the material to make good compost. Help!

A The best compost is produced when the heap is made up of several different constituents, kept in the right conditions. Compost requires warmth, darkness, moisture and air.

Shredded compost materials that result in wet compost probably means that there is insufficient oxygen in the heap, so incorporate more bulky materials such as non-woody prunings, straw or farmyard manure to open up the heap.

For a relaxing bath use lavender, marjoram (a great natural tranquiliser), sage (an antidote for stress) and lemon balm to relieve tension.


* A fuchsia plant
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 28, 2011
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