Gardening experts are urging people not to neglect their gardens during the World Cup and use half-time and time between matches for horticultural jobs.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has drawn up a list of jobs football fans can do while still watching all the matches they want – and some ideas for handling the tension if England face going out on penalties.
RHS chief horticultural advisor Guy Barter said: “The summer months are vital for plants to grow and develop and build up the stores of nutrients they will need to see them through the autumn and winter.
“That is why the RHS has provided a guide for football fans on how to combine a love of the beautiful game with a passion for plants, in order to ensure their gardens receive the love and attention they need as both the temperature and football passions increase.”
There are lots of jobs that only take a few minutes, and can be done in half time, he said, including doing some dead-heading, picking fruit or veg such as a bowl of strawberries or watering pot plants in the house or patio.
Mowing the lawn can be a good way to vent energy during the tournament, the experts said.
To get the lawn that World Cup pitch green, using a sprinkler once a week and watering for enough time for half an inch to collect in a jam jar placed on the lawn, provides the optimum amount to wet roots sufficiently without wasting water, the RHS said.
If a match is dull, the RHS suggests fans distract themselves with jobs such as shelling beans or topping and tailing gooseberries and if Mexican waves start – a sure sign of a dying match – start sharpening knives and secateurs ready to get gardening.
If the tension gets too much when a vital game goes to penalties, gardeners can dead-head flowers on their patio while listening out for the roar to tell them it is all over.
With many of the matches taking place in the evening or at night, as a result of the time difference between the UK and Brazil, Barter said evenings were “a splendid time to be out in the garden in the summer”.
Night-time jobs include picking off slugs, snails, caterpillars and adult vine weevils by torchlight as they go about their nocturnal feeds, and it is the best time to water to prevent the evaporation that occurs in the daytime heat.
Hoeing by moonlight could even reduce the growth of weeds as many seeds need daylight to prompt germination, the RHS suggested.
And for those keen gardeners who do not care about football, there is always Hampton Court Flower Show, whose final day coincides with the day of the World Cup final, the RHS said.
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