This week’s posers
Q: My friend has moved to a property with a large garden which is covered with blackberry and weeds. Last year there were just a couple of daffodils, but this year there are masses. Do you think the bulbs have been waiting for the ground to be cleared of weeds so they would grow? JB, Old Portsmouth.
A: Yes, that is correct. Once weeds are cut down the original plants which were there often return. I always recommend anyone taking over an old garden to wait until spring to see what is there
Q: Is soot any good for the garden? We regularly sweep our chimney and take the soot to the recycling centre. FS, Eastney.
A: Yes, soot is good to use where slugs are a nuisance. Simply scatter it over the soil. Q: My camellias are the best ever but they are spreading over the path and I have to squeeze between the branches and a wall to get into my garden. When can I prune them back and any tips please?
A: Prune camellias as soon as all the flowers fade in a few weeks and they will flower well next year. Cut back really hard but the tip-top tip is to cut back to a nice green leaf every time. If you do this new shoots will emerge from where the cuts were made.
WHAT TO DO THIS WEEK
In the greenhouse or indoors, buy a pot of gloxinias. They are in garden centres. They will flower all summer until autumn and can be saved for the following year too. Have a go, you will be delighted.
This is a good time to split clumps of nerine bulbs. Remove groups of five and replant in another part of the garden making sure only half the depth of the bulb is below the soil’s surface. They love a sunny place and the books tell us they prefer well-drained soil, but at home they are in soil which remains wet most of the winter, but they are in the sun.
Think ahead. Where will you plant your cabbages? All types of cabbage need lime in the soil so apply it at 4-8oz per square yard where they will be planted. Scatter blood fish and bone where seeds will be sown in 10 days. Rake the fertiliser into the top 3-4in of soil as soon as it is applied.
See if you can find little plants of Brussels sprouts called Cromwell. This variety has replaced the best early one called Peer Gynt. If you can’t find seedlings grow some from seeds which should be planted now in insert cells. When they are large enough to plant into rows remember 2.5ft is the minimum distance between plants and the soil must be firm. They will be ready to pick in early September and will last until November if you buy enough plants.
Got a question for Brian? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.