... and he has plenty of jobs to keep you occupied outside and away from the turkey
Q: Can you tell me what these white roots are called. I have taken over an allotment which was overgrown and there are masses of these roots all along one side of the plot. HD, Fareham.
A: Thank you for sending the sample in dry newspaper. These roots are underground stems of bindweed and you are very wise in digging out every little piece. During mid-spring you will see rapidly growing green climbing weeds growing from the bits of stem you didn’t dig out. Concentrate on digging all of these out or spray the new growth with Roundup.
Q: I bought a bundle of autumn-fruiting raspberries called Polka and the label said not to grow them where raspberries were grown before. I have got a place but wonder why this information was on the label. PF, Reading.
A: Thanks for reading The News in Reading. These new raspberries are very prone to virus diseases which may be in the ground where raspberries were grown in previous years. Follow the advice!
Q: This may seem a silly question, but after picking the best crop of runner beans ever and following your advice on how to freeze them (we froze 20lb), I was digging out the roots and found huge lumps as big as a potato on the base of the stems. Should I burn them? I’ve never had this problem before. FPL, Portchester.
A: Good news. The lumps are natural. Chop them up and dig the pieces into the ground during winter digging. These lumps are full of nitrogen – an excellent plant food.
JOBS TO BE GETTING ON WITH
For instant colour try winter-flowering heathers in pots. They’re already in flower and if planted now will give your garden a glow. No heather likes chalk, so plant in a raised area or container of acid compost. The best is John Innes ericaceous mix. Ordinary John Innes composts are not suitable.
Plan ahead. After digging an area where the cabbage family will be planted, scatter a thick dressing of garden lime. Don’t apply it where other crops will be grown.
Buy a packet of exhibition onions to be sown on Boxing Day in your greenhouse. My dad always did this to get away from children for an hour.
If you buy a Christmas tree with roots, pot it up in garden centre potting compost. It’s easier to handle and is more likely to survive. Remember too, if you buy a small one already in a pot with moss on the compost’s surface, it’s more likely to survive Christmas. Many people think it’s a pity to buy a tree with no roots because the poor thing has been sacrificed. If you feel that way, buy an artificial one, like I do. If you do buy a tree without roots, buy a water retainer so the tree’s stem can absorb water. Cut an inch off the bottom of the stem first. This reduces needle drop. Top up the water retainer before going to bed, but please, turn off the fairy lights first. I want you all here to enjoy your gardens in 2016.
Blackbirds are eating the holly berries as if there is no tomorrow. Pick some ASAP if you want berries for indoor displays, otherwise you will need to buy some of those which are on wires and they have to be twisted onto the indoor decorations. I don’t mind having to do this because the
berries are natural food for the lovely blackbirds.
Are you going to make a holly wreath with a red ribbon to go onto your front door? This job is made easier if you buy a circle of Oasis at the garden centre. Simply soak the Oasis circle for an hour and then thrust in the fresh holly, ivy and mistletoe with baubles and the ribbon and everyone will feel welcome into your home.
On the mundane side, try to get some more digging done on the vegetable patch. Leave it rough so frosts will break down the clods.
This is a good time to undertake fruit tree pruning, particularly apple trees. Buy a good pruning saw and secateurs and remove all branches which are crossing and scraping.
Got a question for Brian/ E-mail him via firstname.lastname@example.org.