Gardening: Your outdoor tasks for the week ahead

Please look after this worm.
Please look after this worm.
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It’s rose-pruning time and, please, look after the worms.

• Have you noticed that earthworms are lying on paths after all the wet weather? Be kind, pick them up and after making a small hole in the soil. Put them into the hole so they will survive. Worms find it difficult to get from paths back into the soil. Earthworms do a great job in the borders, soil is greatly improved all the time worms are present. Thanks, on behalf of the worms!

• Bush roses need to be reduced in height to prevent the plants rocking in the wind. Allow the last flower buds to open and then reduce the shoots by about one third of their length. Cut back to a bud facing the outside of the bush and put the prunings straight into a container in order so there’s no clearing up afterwards.

• At this time of year, all rose bushes would appreciate a top dressing of well rotted manure applied at a thickness of about three to four inches over the surface of the bed. Remove weeds before applying the manure.

• Well rotted farmyard manure is available in large plastic begs at all garden centres now. This is better than home-made compost because the manure is weed-free whereas home made compost used as a mulch often contains lots of weed seeds.

• Try to clear leaves from grassed areas regularly because this prevents a disease called fusarium attacking the roots of the grass. Pick up the leaves as soon as there is a small heap, put them into large plastic sacks to rot down. Trying to pull millions of heavy leaves towards you with a rake is good for the tummy muscles but causes the tummy to ache for days afterwards.

• The best time to plant shallots for picking next autumn is on the shortest day of the year. Prepare for this by forking over where they are to be planted. Cover the area with horticultural fleece to keep it dry and when planting the shallots, use a plank to walk over the soil to avoid compacting the surface.

• Soil which has been dug over may be covered with chickweed. This is very annoying but may be overcome by carefully watering the weeds with Weedol 2. This will kill the weeds quickly if applied on a bright sunny day. This product kills all plants so it must not drift on to plants which are to be cultivated.

• Just in case you have forgotten, sow seeds of broad beans and early peas in insert cells indoors or in a cold greenhouse. This saves time and allows the plants to be planted in the garden or allotment when time and soil conditions are right.

• If you have a cymbidium orchid it should start to show some flower spikes fairly soon. Keep some rain water handy because it will need more water than usual once the flower spikes appear.

• This is a good time to plant evergreen shrubs in the garden for instant colour effect. At garden centres, you will see outstanding shrubs because the evergreen ones are looking really cheerful. Read the labels, see how large they grow, pick out a few and lie them out on the path so you can see what they will look like in your garden. It’s also a good idea to arrange them so the foliage contrasts, not just the colours but the leaf shapes and habit of the plant.