Brian Kidd has some useful advice for planting primroses and some jobs for the coming week

Nerines
Nerines
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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Here’s a selection of readers’ questions

Q: I enclose a photograph of a pot of nerines. I feed the pot once a month and they are always beautiful. Would it be a good idea to leave them and continue to feed as usual? MH, Hilsea.

A: I suggest you knock the clump out of the pot at the end of March and break the packed bulbs into two parts and replant the bulbs in two slightly larger pots using John Innes No3 compost. Continue to feed with the same liquid fertiliser once a month from April until September. Don’t feed during winter.

Q: I would like to have primroses on the edge of a ditch which takes the water out of my garden. Plants in pots are in stock at my garden centre but they are almost £3 a pot. If I planted five, thanks to a gift voucher, do you think they would spread? GL, Denmead.

A: Primroses produce lots of seeds. They fall on to the soil alongside the parent plants. I think this is a very good idea and you will have masses of flowers in a couple of years. Primroses are returning to the countryside because they are a protected species and can’t be picked.

Q: My curly kale plants are only about 10 inches high. How can I get them to grow taller? I sowed the seeds last April and they didn’t grow as they do normally. DB, Fareham.

A: This is not your fault. You have sown seeds of a dwarf variety. Next year check the height on the seed packet. Don’t give up on the crop you have, simply cut off leaves starting at the base of the plants. Don’t pick out the tops.

... and here’s some work to be geting on with

Plant shallots. They are best planted in December or January. If the soil is wet, fork over the surface, cover with cloches and leave the ends open to allow the wind to dry the soil.

Feel the compost on newly-bought potted plants such as azaleas, poinsettias ,cyclamen and Christmas cacti. Only water once the compost feels dry. Try to ensure all plants are kept at an even temperature. Keep in mind cyclamen like it cold and light.

Keep an eye out for adverts in connection with garden centre sales. One local one will be advertising 20 per cent off everything shortly.

There is still time to plant tulip bulbs. Think about dwarf varieties such as Red Riding Hood in containers near your front door. What a welcoming sight­ these red blooms will be in early spring.

This is an excellent time to reduce the height of many trees. Before starting, look carefully at the shape of the tree and prune so you keep a good shape. Buy a proper pruning saw which will be sharp and means you are less likely to have an accident.

Think ahead. In January, it is possible to start seed sowing so think about buying a soil-warming cable if there is electricity in the greenhouse. They are very safe and easy to install. Instructions are in the pack and they start at less than £30.

Got a question for Brian? Send it to him via features@thenews.co.uk