Brian Kidd answers your questions and suggests jobs for the coming week

Borage - great for converting into plant food.
Borage - great for converting into plant food.

BRIAN KIDD: From pom poms to cactus, dahlias just keep on giving

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This week’s posers for Brian to solve

Q: I grew some borage and decided to try to use it as plant food. I put loads of the leaves, about a barrowload,into a huge tub of water and it has turned into a thick, gravy-like mess. How much do I put into a two-gallon watering can and can it be used on all types of vegetables? Tony, Waterlooville.

A: Use a large mug to a two-gallon can and this can be used to feed all types of vegetables, fruits and flowers. If you put a piece of rabbit wire over the top of the gravy, it will be easier to fill the mug!

Q: There are hundreds of woodlice in my compost bin. How can I get rid of them? LF, Fratton.

A: Don’t do anything. They are doing a great job eating the rubbish and turning it into wonderful humus. To other readers, if you are plagued with woodlice, sweep them up and put them into the compost bin.

Q: I always used soap flakes dissolved in hot water to kill blackfly on nasturtiums, but can’t find soap flakes. What would you suggest? JF, Waterlooville.

A: Use liquid soap flakes, they have it at Waitrose at Waterlooville. One teaspoon in two litres of water. Spray in the late evening to prevent leaf scorch.

Q: We’ve had the best beetroot crop ever. If I sow another couple of rows now will they grow OK? GK Cosham.

A: Yes. Sow them quite thickly and thin them when they are the size of a marble. They don’t have to be large. They will last throughout the winter.

JOBS FOR THE COMING WEEK

Sow spring cabbage seeds now. Choose new varieties such as Offenheim 2 or Duncan, both F1 hybrids which won’t bolt if we have a sudden hot spell next May.

Prune summer-fruiting raspberry canes as soon as they stop fruiting. Ensure the area in which they are growing does not dry out. New canes should be growing and will bear next year’s fruit. Tie the new shoots on to wires as soon as they are long enough.

Summer-prune your apples. Look at the main branches and there will be side shoots growing out of them. Cut the side shoots back to half their length which will induce fruiting spurs and a better crop the following year.

Sow seeds of indoor cyclamen in the greenhouse or even on a windowsill. They take a long time to germinate because they make a tiny tuber even before the first leaf can be seen. See if you can find a scented type.

Stop watering indoor amaryllis. Put the pot on its side somewhere indoors in the sun. This will make the foliage die down. In October cut off the leaves even if they are still green. The bulb is then potted in the same size pot in DRY, not even moist, John Innes No3 compost. Keep in the light with NO WATER until the fat flower bud emerges in February next year.

Got a question for Brian? E-mail him via features@thenews.co.uk.