BRIAN KIDD: Answers readers’ queries and this weekend’s jobs in the garden

Michaelmas daisy King George

Michaelmas daisy King George

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Q: I took your advice and bought a Michaelmas daisy called King George and my word what a delight it is. I have not been able to find another one for my daughter. When can I divide the one I have? Sylvia, Cosham.

A: Most herbaceous plants are divided in autumn but aster King George hates wet soils. Wait until you see new shoots appearing in early spring and then dig out the whole clump and divide it carefully. I am recommending this just in case we have another wet winter. Put a label alongside the plant so you know exactly where the plant is.

Q: This may seem a silly question, but I have been growing cauliflowers which are about the size of a football and they are all ready to pick at the same time. I am on my own and need some small cauliflowers. What would you suggest? BM, Rowlands Castle.

A: Next year grow the variety called Snowball. It is well named as the curds are about the size of a large snowball.

Q: My garden is alongside the sea at Hayling Island and during the winter my Brussels sprouts are literally blown out of the ground. What would you suggest? HF, Hayling.

A: Use two bamboo canes 4ft long and push them firmly into the soil, one each side of each plant. I have to do this at my allotment because it is very windy.

Q: The leaves on my runner beans are speckled. What’s wrong? JF, Emsworth.

A: It’s a pest called red spider. Spray the leaves both underneath as well as on top with Pyrethrum liquid sold as Py.

JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND

-Daffodil bulbs can be planted any time from now until the end of November, five inches deep for best results. Buy a few each week and avoid cheap ‘mixed’. Get named varieties. Consider a drift of bulbs not straight lines.

-Amaryllis, the hardy type, is in garden centres. They’re £2.99 each. Buy three bulbs, plant them in a sunny spot and you will be rewarded with flowers in the autumn forever.

-Do you enjoy visiting garden centres? See if you can find autumn-flowering crocus corms. These flowers are usually pink and give a good show when the weather gets colder.

-Cuttings of bedding geraniums will root easily if taken now. Cut off non-flowering shoots below a node and pop them in alongside the parent. They root like weeds.

-Orchids, bird of paradise plants and any tender indoor plants put out into the garden for summer should be brought indoors now.

-Get hold of some manure. Keep it in the bags until ready to dig it in in the autumn.

-If mildew spoils the fruits on grapes, blow in sulphur dust through the berries.

-Take cuttings of expensive basket plants such as Japanese petunias. If they aren’t producing enough new growth for cuttings, give them a high nitrogen feed or a teaspoon of sulphate of ammonia in a gallon of water.

-Did you remember to plant freesia corms in pots in the greenhouse? Remember the perfume?

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