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Gardening: TOP TIPS FOR THE WEEK AHEAD.

1 At the first signs of bird damage, protect flower buds on fruit bushes by covering them with a fine horticultural fleece (the type often used for forcing vegetables) or by tying cotton threads between the branches.

2 Sow seed of marginal (damp-loving) primulas such as P. florindae, P. pulverulenta and P. sikkimensis. Sow thinly in a seed tray, keep the trays outdoors in partial shade but protect from heavy rain. Prick out when large enough.

3 To get an early crop of tomatoes you will need to grow them in a cool greenhouse or in a part of the house that gets a lot of light. These will need to be planted out in April, so sow now and keep at 16C.

4 Now is the time to tidy up and re-pot any indoor ferns. Remove dead and dying fronds and repot using a loam compost such as John Innes No 1.

5 Prune shrubs such as spireas, tamarisk, Campsis radicans and callicarpa. Cut back last year's growth to within 10cm of the old wood.

This will encourage good growth this year.
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Mar 13, 2005
Words:183
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