BRIAN KIDD: Readers letters and jobs for the week ahead

Lettuce Arctic King

Lettuce Arctic King

Left to right: Louise Moreton, 39, with pupils Keira Hall ,10, Keiran Robbins, eight, Ruby Ogden, eight, and Dylan Warner, nine. Picture by:  Malcolm Wells

Pupils dig deep for a starring role on Gardeners’ World

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Brian solves your problems

Q: I used to grow lettuces in a couple of cold frames so they would grow slowly during the winter and be ready to eat in spring. Are the seeds still available? HL, Copnor.

A: Yes, Arctic King and May Queen are available plus other varieties. Have a look at the huge range of seeds at Keydell Nurseries, Horndean.

Q: Can you identify the name of the rose flower enclosed?
KG, Fareham.

A: Sorry this is impossible. There are two things you could try. The first is to visit a garden centre with a huge range of roses or go to the Royal National Rose Society gardens at St Albans (mrs.org.uk). This will be a good day out next June.

Q: My strawberries were attacked by vine weevil grubs which were eating the roots. I borrowed my friend’s two hens after the fruits were picked and they scratched out the grubs and ate them. He took the hens back home just before dark just in case a fox got them. I had to do some replanting afterwards but thought readers might like to hear about this. LA, Horndean.

A: Thank you Les. Readers will find this interesting.­ I certainly did.

Q: We bought a cherry tree and there is a very strong shoot growing from the base of the plant. Shall I cut it off? BA, Clanfield.

A: Use a strong knife and carve it out to prevent it growing again. If you dab the cut with hormone rooting liquid or powder this will help prevent it growing again. Roots rather than a shoot will grow.

Q: We have maggots in our apples, what can we use as a spray? DP, Fareham.

A: Spraying will not do the trick. Buy a codling moth trap next spring and hang it in the apple tree when it is in full bloom. You will see the directions on the outside of the packe. Read them before buying and take your glasses. No chemicals are involved. The trap catches the male moths and the females will not lay eggs unless they mate beforehand.

WHAT TO DO THIS WEEK

- Don’t let the lawn be spoiled by early leaf fall. The best way to pick up a light covering of leaves is to mow the grass. The leafy bits will help the grass to compost.

- With a bit of luck, this is the last time we shall have to cut hedges, so let’s get it done and off the to-do list.

- If you have an allotment try to get some digging done. Remove weeds and leave the soil in clods to weather. Incorporate manure for potatoes, peas and beans. If you are on clay, Warwick’s farm shop at Wickham has potting grit ideal to scatter over clay. An inch or two over the top will do the trick.

- Buy alpine plants for a cold empty greenhouse. They won’t mind a few side glass panes missing and what a good way to enjoy the greenhouse in winter. Better still in spring when they all flower.

- Have you struggled all summer with a bad mowing machine? It won’t be long before the DIY shops have special clearance offers. You can’t take your money with you. Spend it and enjoy it.

- Plant out Brompton stocks about eight inches apart. These bloom in between spring and early summer when there is very little else in flower and they are perfumed too.

- Plant a camellia. These accommodating plants start to flower in late winter. Choose one with plump terminal buds, these are the flower buds. Plant somewhere so that the morning sun won’t damage the blooms in frosty weather. A good container plant too. Use an ericaceous mix.

- Plant tubers of the autumn-flowering cyclamen, Cyclamen hederaefolium. These are often seen ‘loose’ in boxes at garden centres. They enjoy light shade. Simply plant the tuber half its depth in moistened soil.

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