Hard work gardening in the summer heat

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It's amazing what you can achieve with a broom handle, a pinch of seed and... children.

BRIAN KIDD: Get the children in your life to do the hard work

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I don’t know what the weather will be like when you read this, but I’m struggling in the heat and have found it a good idea to go back to old-fashioned principles when it comes to trying to plant things and endeavouring to keep them alive.

Last week, I decided to plant the strawberry plants grown in the greenhouse outside at the allotment.

They were in five-inch diameter pots.

The ground was as hard as a rock and digging out holes large enough to take the roots was impossible. Far too hard.

But in came the old-fashioned idea – soak the stations where they are to be planted an hour or so before planting and the job was a walk in the park.

Some of the potatoes were not earthed up, which means the tubers will be green if this isn’t done.

The ground is far too hard and dry.

Is there a little trick? Yes, there are two.

The first is to soak the ground between the rows, leave the soil to absorb the water and after an hour, hoe through then earth up.

The second idea will cost a few pounds but will not take so much labour.

Water the soil between the rows and then apply a deep mulch of cheap compost to earth up the potatoes.

Peas must never dry out. A good watering followed by a two-inch deep mulch of cheap compost and watered again afterwards will stop the foliage turning brown.

It won’t be long before the autumn-flowering bulbs appear at the garden centres.

They will be in fancy packs with a coloured picture on the front.

Nerines are one of the most popular autumn-flowering bulbs and if planted soon they will produce masses of pink flowers.

And as they are left in the ground all the time will be enjoyed for many years.

Amaryllis and nerines are planted in groups in a sunny place ensuring one third of the bulb is above the soil level.

In very tiny areas or rock gardens and containers, autumn-flowering crocus are great.

They too are easy to grow and are planted so that two inches of soil is left above the tops of the corms.

If the soil is very dry, water a few hours before planting.

If you are thinking your soil is impossible, scatter the contents of growing bag over the top so that there is a two-inch layer on top of your original ground.

Don’t spread it out too far, this defeats the object of the exercise.

Give it a go. It’s only going to cost a couple of pounds and remember, you can’t take it with you!