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Joe Swift, star of BBC Gardener's World and boss of the Plantroom, London's trendiest shop for gardeners new or expert, doesn't always have long for his own Hackney garden. He's often a 10-minute gardener - and we're sure a lot of you are, too. Here's the first of his regular series…

If this is the first time you've thought about your garden this year don't worry - you're not the only one. And as the filthy cold and wet weather we had a couple of weeks ago showed, you never know what's going to happen at this time of year. You can get over-prepared and lose plants to late-spring cold.

So it's not too late to do a few quick jobs, which will help your garden look good for the rest of the year and give your friends the impression you're naturally greenfingered. All you need is some secateurs, a bag or two of grit or gravel and some pelleted chicken manure which comes with the superb brand name of 'Rooster'.

OK, you've got the kit, now walk around your garden, balcony, roof terrace or whatever you have. Cut off any of last year's dead leaves on the perennial plants (they're the ones that die down to the ground in the winter), but leave any new green leaves or shoots.

Sprinkle the pelleted manure around the bottom of each plant- this is called feeding. Chicken manure is high in nitrogen and therefore greens up the foliage of a plant - its 100% organic too. It works really well as a lawn feed either mixed with water and applied with a watering can or sprinkled evenly on the lawn and then watered in well. Don't overdo it, as its strong (and smelly) stuff. (You'll find recommended quantities on the package).

Now do exactly the same with your plants in pots, and then cover the soil and pellets in the pots with the grit or gravel to a depth of 5cm. This is called mulching, it keeps in moisture and keeps down weeds. For the trendiest mulch in town you can also use washed shells such as cockleshells or crushed mussel shells. Your mulch will also help to keep the dreaded slugs and snails out of the pots, as will a quick spray of WD40 (yes, the motor lubricant) around the outside rim of the pot!

Visit the Superstore to see our range of selected secateurs and Rooster pelleted manure.

Click to view  Plant Food for sale  in our online store

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