Morning work will reward garden

When the weather is hot it's hard to drag yourself out into the garden - only the early mornings are tolerable. Set the alarm for 'sparrow-fart' so you have time to get the garden ready for autumn planting!

If you put your vegie beds under a green manure crop over summer, now's the time to chop down and dig in all that fresh green growth. Add compost and fertilisers before you dig, but hold off liming the bed until planting time. Once the soil is dug, water on some seaweed solution and cover the surface - a bit of old carpet is ideal, but you can also mulch with straw or cane tops. Lift the carpet (if using) and water again with worm juice, fish emulsion etc at least once a week. It should be full of worms and ready to plant in three weeks.

If you tried to keep a few vegies going over the summer they are looking quite sad by now. Cut the lot off at ground level and compost it, then add plenty of compost/

fertiliser/manure and dig it in. Mulch and water as for a green manure crop, but use an organic mulch.

If you want a bed of sweet peas for cut flowers, prepare the area in the same way now. You will need to remember to apply plenty of lime a few days before you put the seeds in. A good trick that will assist germination is to soak the seeds overnight in warm water to which you have added a pinch of Epsom salts.

Buy new spring-flowering corms and bulbs, as well as garlic. Put garlic and tulips in the crisper of the fridge for a couple of weeks to chill. There's no hurry to plant tulips - if the weather is still warm when they flower, they will form disappointingly short stems.


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