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Garden Chores

Summer is a busy time for gardeners - everything is in bloom, and it seems that all of your plants, trees and shrubs demand your attention.

So Britain's garden goddess, Charlie Dimmock, has prioritized summer's garden chores and has some suggestions on where you should be directing your energy.

Although summer is beginning to wind down, some flowers such as foxglove and sweet williams should be planted now.

Dimmock suggests starting them from seeds inside, and then moving them outside in September or October. The plants will grow and be green until first frost. Then, next spring, they will be all ready to flower at the first hint of warmth.

Many people mistakenly plant seeds too thickly, according to Dimmock, especially if the seeds are small. Mix the seeds with some grit or sand so you can spread them out more evenly. Also, be careful when watering seeds. If you turn the hose on them, or sprinkle them with a watering can, you risk washing all the seeds to one spot. You're better off soaking your seedlings in a tray of water.

All seed packets now carry expiration dates. Although it doesn't hurt to check the date, Dimmock says not to be concerned if you've passed the expiration date. There may be a few seeds in the packet that don't come up, she explains, but the rest will grow just fine.

It's hard to talk about summer gardening and not talk about watering.

Dimmock says it's almost impossible to over-water this time of year. It's hot and humid, and your plants are thirsty all of the time.

She reminds gardeners to only water in the mornings and evenings. It's so hot right now that if you water in the middle of the day, most of the water won't even get to the plants - it simply evaporates. Along these lines, don't water from above or spray plants with a water wand. Instead, water at the base of the plant to prevent evaporation.

Finally, if you're trying to conserve water, feel free to dump dish or bath water on your garden. This "gray water" won't hurt your plants.

Tune in Monday's The Early Show to get more practical tips.

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