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Raising plants from seed often gives greater choices than buying plants from garden centres. Planting is usually done at twice the depth of the seed, but during dry weather it should be a little deeper. Watering the rows thoroughly before sowing will help germination and then, when the seedlings appear, gentle watering will get plants growing steadily.
Intercropping using an area for more than one crop is a good way of making the maximum use of a small space. Lettuces may be grown along a line intended for outdoor tomatoes, which usually are planted between Labour Day and the middle of November. Lettuces are cut before the tomato foliage is big enough to bother them.
Early peas or potatoes may be intercropped with any of the brassicas used for winter greens. Between the rows of late dwarf peas or beans, sow spinach, turnips and radish.
Radish is a quick-maturing plant that can tolerate some shade in the summer. Keep all plants clear of close-growing weeds.
Peas making good growth can be helped with staked netting or wire brush placed by the rows for the plants to climb up. Cauliflower, cabbage and lettuce plants in the garden will benefit from regular waterings of liquid manure.
Parsnips, which have a longer growing season than other root crops, need to be sown now. Shorter-rooted varieties such as Avonresister should be chosen for shallow or clay soils.
Marigolds, zinnias, asters and cosmos sown under cover in August will be ready for planting out in the open. However, if the garden is exposed to southwest winds and late frosts, leave the plants in boxes and harden off by exposing them to daytime weather, but shelter at night.
Lilac bushes will finish flowering soon and can be pruned to reduce in size or improve shape.
Polyanthus and primroses can be kept in a cool, shaded place if they are removed from beds for summer annuals.
Biennial and perennial seeds such as russell lupins, aquilegia, pyrethrum, penstemon, scabious, viola, sweet william and hollyhock can also be sown.
Berry fruits — currants, raspberries and related fruits — will benefit from mulching with garden compost or rotted stable manure to feed the growing crop and help retain spring moisture in the soil.