Brian Kidd on how to keep your marrows under control and jobs for the week ahead

Bees love thyme

Bees love thyme

Now's the time to give your heathers some TLC so they will thrive next year

BRIAN KIDD: Spruce up your heathers now to cheer your garden in winter

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This week’s readers’ questions

Q: I wanted bush marrow plants but couldn’t find the seeds so I planted others which are growing like mad. How can I keep them under control? MB, Cosham.

A: Take out the tips of all of the shoots once they are 2ft long and the will become bushy. Keep watering and feeding. The more they grow the more marrows will be produced.

Q: My thyme plants are in full flower and the bees love them. I don’t use much thyme at this time of year but use a lot in winter. Can I prune the plants back to get new leaves or do I have to sow more seeds? GD, Cowplain.

A: Let the plants finish blooming and then cut them down to half their height. It’s important to fork over the ground and give them a soak of Maxicrop Complete liquid fertiliser.

A reader’s comment: Just to tell you the seeds of Salad Bowl lettuces grew well and we are already out there cutting off the leaves for regular salads. Lynda, East Ashling.

A: I am very pleased. Other readers may not know about this lettuce. It can still be sown directly into the soil. Cut the leaves regularly with scissors. Leave the plants in the soil.

Q: My gooseberry bushes are being attacked by caterpillars. What can I do? HL, Waterlooville.

A: The caterpillars are gooseberry sawfly caterpillars. Spray the foliage with Py. This is a really safe insecticide and it is in stock at Keydell Nurseries.

Q: My polyanthus plants were the best ever. Can I save them for next year? CP Paulsgrove,

A: Yes. Dig them out, screw off all the leaves and replant them in a shady place. Fork in blood fish and bone fertiliser and keep them well watered. A shady area is vital. Plant them into containers in autumn.

TOPICAL TIPS

Water early potatoes with Maxicrop Complete liquid fertiliser, allowing three weeks before gently removing some of the soil from the ridging. You will see little potatoes. Pull off just a few here and there leaving the plant to grow on. If the soil is dry start watering as soon as the potatoes come into flower and you will increase the size of the crop.

Stop ants climbing trees by putting a band of grease around the trunk.

Trim the edges of the lawn every time you mow.

Each time you add a 4in layer of mowings into the compost bin add either 2oz of sulphate of ammonia or one part urine to seven parts water.

Take off side shoots on tomatoes and give the plants a quick shake at lunchtime every day to ensure the pollen falls on to the flowers.

Give tomatoes a drink of calcium nitrate to prevent blossom end rot.

Dust a ring of ant powder around tomato stems to stop woodlice climbing up to eat the little fruits.

Take the tips out of chrysanthemums growing as spray blooms.

Sow another batch of maincrop peas in insert cells. If you cover these with fleece once they are planted outdoors you won’t have maggots in your peas!

Sow just a few lettuces such as Salad Bowl.

Did you sow runner beans ­ Why not? They look wonderful on a wigwam shape with 8ft high canes in the flower border.

Try some capillary matting so your plants will remain watered while you are on holiday. Buy a piece the size of a tea towel, fill the sink with water ensuring the matting is well down in the sink and put pot plants on the matting which overlaps on to the draining board so they can soak up moisture. I does work and the plants are never over-watered.

Got a question for Brian? E-mail him here.

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