Weekend gardener: Time to sow, snip and squish
Make small but successive sowings of lettuce, radish and spring onions to ensure continuity of supply – and avoid glut or famine scenarios.
Other vegetables to be sown direct into the garden now include beans, beetroot, peas and spinach.
Sow corn, courgettes and pumpkins under glass for transplanting out once the weather settles.
Snip off the top of broad beans and steam lightly for a fresh tasty green. This may also help rid the plant of aphids.
Sow cape gooseberries. If sown, or planted out in sunny spot sheltered from frost and wind, you should have them filling your colanders every autumn. While plants, which are a light shrub, can live for several years, under suitable conditions they will selfsow abundantly. Do not fertilise them, but pinch out new shoots to encourage bushiness.
Mulch soft fruits – raspberries, red, white and black currants and gooseberries – with compost or well-rotted horse manure to both feed the plants and help retain soil moisture into summer.
Give ornamental beds a good going over to remove annual weeds. The likes of scrambling fumitory (with its small purple pea-like flower) and cleavers (aka sticky weed) will be climbing up and over many plants, threatening to overwhelm them if left to their own devices.
Aphids will be building up in numbers. Either squish between fingers or spray – preferably with a natural spray. And be a considerate gardener, remove all other insects that you don’t want to harm, like praying mantis for example.
Pull out weeds before they flower and set seed – remember one year’s seeding is seven years’ weeding.
New lawns or lawn repairs need to be made with haste, before the days get too hot and drying. For repairs, rake over area, spread a river sand and screened soil mix over bare patches and into dips, filling them. Water well, then scatter lawn seed, firm down well with a board and sprinkle a tad more soil over the top. Do not let these areas dry out till the grass is well established.
Divide waterlilies should they be getting crowded – this usually needs to be done only every four years or so. Lift the plants out of the water, with a sharp knife cut off small side rhizomes, ensuring each has a shoot and repot in aquatic baskets just under the soil surface and with a layer of pea shingle on top. – Mary Lovell-Smith
Floating waterlily leaves provide protection from birds for goldfish and frogs. Encourage more blooms by cutting off dying flowers. Follow the stem down as far as it goes; either cut it or snap if off with your fingers.