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Gardening: CUTTING IT!; Be a clone arranger & breed your own plants.

Byline: STEVE RICHES

IT'S not quite like cloning a sheep, but breeding plants from your own garden will add a serious sense of science to your must-do list this week.

TAKE cuttings from the likes of clematis, weeping fig, ceanothus, scabious, passion flower, fuchsias and philadelphus.

To get them going, I use Mr Fothergill's gel2root and it couldn't be easier. You just slice the cutting, pierce a hole in the foil lid of a gel pot and stick the cutting in.

Each pot takes up to three cuttings and you get six pots in the pounds 5.99 propagator pack, which comes with excellent instructions.

THIN any new seedlings as soon as you can pinch them out with your fingers. There won't be enough food to go round otherwise and you'll have straggly plants, so be ruthless. It's only a minor form of murder!

PLANT container-grown trees and shrubs - garden centres are packed with really healthy stuff right now. Bare-rooted trees shouldn't be planted until autumn, but you can bend the rules with those that come in pots.

Even apples can go in, but look at labels carefully and go for one that will fit your garden. A small tree will yield about 30lb of fruit and it's best to stick with varieties like Discovery and Cox's Orange Pippin.

WATCH out for blackfly everywhere but particularly under the leaves and on the stems of roses. Squirt them with washing-up liquid unless you're a shameless gardening Chemical Ali.

LIFT and dry onions in the sunshine if the leaves have yellowed and fallen over like a row of drunks. My over-wintered Cambridge onions are ready - and so too is my garlic.

In fact, one of the Thomson & Morgan elephant garlic cloves I planted in a 10-inch pot in October has weighed in at an impressive six ounces. Keep onions and garlic in a cool, dry place. Any moisture and they'll rot.

PICK courgettes when they're still cosh size (and fry them in chilli oil) or let them grow on - and stuff and bake them with minced chicken, onion and peppers. The younger you pick them, the more you'll get.

PS: My sunflowers have now topped 10ft. I've informed air traffic control...

CAPTION(S):

SHARP PRACTICE: Trimming a geranium cutting and (inset); propagating houseplants Pictures: GARDEN PICTURE LIBRARY
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Jul 27, 2003
Words:385
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