Gardens: what to do this week

Try this If you can get a few straw bales, you could grow herbs, salads, courgettes and tomatoes, using the bales as a soil-free raised bed. It’s not quite as simple as sticking some seeds into some straw: the bales need conditioning for a fortnight with water and fertiliser. Interested? Check out the bible on this approach, Straw Bale Gardens, by Joel Karsten.

Sow this If you haven’t become a kale convert yet, now is the time to get sowing. It’s probably the easiest of the brassicas to grow, and some varieties are perennial. Try the handsome ‘Flanders Purple’, from Thomas Etty seeds, or, for a more reliably perennial plant, ‘Daubenton’ from

Plant this Forget the plastic-wrapped, scent-free flowers from the garage forecourt: modern carnations are perfumed and perfect for growing in borders and containers. Carnation ‘Blackjack’ has near-black blooms fringed with white, and its longer stems and delicious, clove-like scent make it great for the cutting garden, too. Height and spread: 50cm x 50cm. Order five pencil plugs for £9.99, or 10 for £14.98 (prices include free UK mainland p&p). To order, call 0330 333 6856, quoting ref GU310, or go to our Readers’ offers page. Dispatch: May-June.