Brian Kidd on a dangerous weed and jobs for the weekend

These buoys could be useful for a seaside-themed garden - with or without boat.
These buoys could be useful for a seaside-themed garden - with or without boat.

SOUTHSEA GREENHOUSE: Enjoying an early harvest

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This week’s readers’ questions

Q : I have a clump of grass in an area of variegated grass in my garden. What is its name? JF, Drayton.

A: This is a weed grass called wall barley. Get it out as soon as you can otherwise it will produce hundreds of seeds and will become a real nuisance. It is dangerous to long-eared dogs as the darts can enter their ears and they will need a vet to remove it. It is an agonising experience for a dog.

Q: I have a rose arch but the rose died last year. I can’t dig soil these days but can use a trowel. What plants can I plant at the base of the arch? LP, Emsworth.

A: Plant two or three runner bean plants at the base on both sides of the archway.

Q: My husband is mad on boats and I love my garden. Every autumn he brings the boat home and parks it in our large front garden. I want him to make the boat look good but he won’t plant flowers in the boat. JM, Hilsea.

A: Make a plan on paper of a genuine quay with a raised walkway, bollards, lifebuoy, anchor and a lobster pot. In other words create a seaside landscape. He will be able to pick up items from a boat sale. At the base use attractive loose cobbles to form a beach. Use your imagination and you will be surprised at how good it will look and passers-by will stop and look.

Q: What was the name of the annual climber with orange flowers which look a bit like busy Lizzies and where can I buy some? BD, Southsea.

A: Brown-eyed Susan. Keydell Nurseries, Horndean.

Q: My two-year-old plum tree has two branches more than 4ft long and they seem to grow two or three inches each day. Shall I cut them off? I don’t want it to become a tree. JD, Petersfield.

A: Use strong twine and bend them over so they weep. You will be encouraging a good crop of plums if you do this to all of the branches.

JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND

Take aubrietia cuttings 3in long and remove the bottom 2in of leaves. Insert them in a 50/50 mix of sharp sand and seed compost. Keep them in the shade and protect the box from cats and they should root in about four weeks.

Place greenhouse ferns in a shady part of the greenhouse. Many end up with scorched leaves if left in direct hot sunshine.

Feed greenhouse cucumbers by top dressing the surface of the compost with a little Vitax Q4 fertiliser and water afterwards with a rose on the watering can. In a few days, new white roots will appear on the compost’s surface. When these roots are seen top dress the compost’s surface with John Innes No3. This will increase the number of fruits. Repeat the action several times at weekly intervals.

Summer prune apple trees. This means cutting the side shoots to half their length. The prunings will be soft and should be composted. This practice will induce fruit buds for next year’s apples.

Use fingers and thumbs to see if early potatoes are ready, don’t dig the whole plant. Give it a liquid feed to encourage more tubers.

Thin grapes again and blow sulphur dust into the centre of the bunches to prevent powdery mildew.

Check tall flowers in borders. They may need support if you didn’t use hazel sprays in March.

Got a question for Brian? Drop him a line by clicking here.