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

Garden sweetpea
Garden sweetpea
he South East In Bloom judges visited the Fareham area where they concluded their tour with a visit to Ferneham Hall. From left: Fiona Phillips, Stuart Lees and The Mayor of Fareham Councillor Geoff Fazackarley     
Picture Ian Hargreaves  (170760-1)

South East in Bloom judges praise standard of gardens in Fareham area

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Q: I sowed some larkspur seeds after reading your article a few weeks ago. The area where they were sown is smothered with weeds and I can’t tell the difference between the weed seedlings and the larkspur. Can you tell me what the larkspur seedlings look like please? 
ND, Horndean.

This week’s posers for Brian.

Q: I sowed some larkspur seeds after reading your article a few weeks ago. The area where they were sown is smothered with weeds and I can’t tell the difference between the weed seedlings and the larkspur. Can you tell me what the larkspur seedlings look like please? 
ND, Horndean.

A:The larkspur seedlings look quite different from the weeds. You will see they have fern-­like leaves and they will be in little groups. Use a kneeler and a hand-held fork to remove the weeds and put them into a bucket and then into the compost bin.

Q: I simply adore sweet peas and have grown them all my life. Until now they have always been mixed but I want to grow the best ever perfumed plants with long straight stems. I would like your advice please. HS, Waterlooville.

A: I would suggest you borrow a book from the library or go online to see how to grow sweet peas on a cordon system. Buy seeds of exhibition blooms in single colours and make sure the description states they are perfumed.

Q: I don’t use chemicals on my allotment but must do something about the white fly on my brussels sprouts. What would you suggest? GS, Cosham.

A: Use a tablespoon of liquid soap flakes in two gallons of water and spray the undersides of the leaves when the weather is dull. Repeat 10 days later, I find this really effective.

Q:I took 20 cuttings of geraniums and every one rooted. I want the plants to be bushy. Is it OK to remove the tips now? HJ, Locks Heath.

A:If you nip out the tops now, a stem rot disease may set in. The risk is greatly reduced if you wait until spring.

JOBS FOR THE WEEK AHEAD

This is an excellent time to book the mower in for a service, if done now it will be done in three weeks. If it is left until spring, everyone else has beaten you to it and that grass keeps growing while you wait.

Thin out the autumn sown carrots, earth the soil up over the bases to prevent the tops becoming green. Keep the crop covered over with insect barrier mesh because the carrot root fly is around again.

When sowing autumn varieties of broad beans, it is essential the right ones are sown. Aqua Dulce types are suitable, sow single seeds in insert cells for best results, and plant out when the seedlings are two inches tall.

The old leaves are taken off the rhubarb now, so use these between a layer of mowings,to help the composting process.

If you love the lawn you will pick the fallen leaves up regularly. A cylinder mower with the box attached is ideal.

If you usually put leaves in a wire mesh cage, line the inside with former compost bags, making sure the black colour of the bags is facing the garden – ­ it looks smarter. This lining of polythene keeps the leaves moist and hastens decomposition.

Buy some tulips, these are best planted in late November when there are fewer slugs. Get hold of some sharp sand to put into the planting holes, this reduces slug damage.

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