Brian Kidd tackles the one-bloom camellia and finds work for you to do in the coming week

A raised bed -  ideal for an allotment on poor ground
A raised bed - ideal for an allotment on poor ground

BRIAN KIDD: From pom poms to cactus, dahlias just keep on giving

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This week’s readers’ queries

Q: I bought a camellia but it only has one flower. How can I get more blooms? Also, my jasmine in a container looked wonderful a month ago but now seems dead. MP, Petersfield.

A: If the camellia is in a pot don’t put it in a larger one. Feed it once a month using Maxicrop for tomatoes. Start in April and stop in September. Do this and you’ll have a good show next year. The jasmine may be waterlogged. Clear the hole in the container’s base and put little feet below the pot to encourage better drainage. Knock the plant out to see if worms have entered. If they have, take off all the compost and repot in new JI No3 compost.

Q: I grow roses in pots and feed with liquid fertiliser. But they’re not as good as they used to be. HC, Southsea.

A: Prune really hard leaving stems with only three or four buds. Knock them out of the pots and replant in fresh JI No3 compost adding 10 per cent extra sharp sand. Mix the compost really well. Continue to feed with Maxicrop for tomatoes from April to September and you’ll get brilliant results.

Q: Our allotment soil is dreadful, clay and it floods. It is so bad the council let us have it half-price. Advice please? K and FP, Eastleigh.

A: Build wooden raised beds four inches deep. They can be as long as you like but not more the six feet wide. Never walk on a raised bed except when digging it. The top inch of soil from the paths will help you attain the right amount you need in the beds but well-made compost and cheap potting compost will also help fill them.

Q: My camellias are in bloom now and are all red. There is one branch with a large, single pink bloom – much larger than the red blooms. How can I take a cutting off the new flower? DK, Cowplain,

A: You have what is called a sport and I have sent you a diagram of how to take a cutting in July.

WHAT TO DO THIS WEEK

Sow seeds of summer cabbage in cells in a cold greenhouse or in cells in a protected area of the garden or allotment. Hispi is a good one and will be ready to eat in June.

Bend over the tips of summer-fruiting raspberry canes. This will prevent them becoming too tall and will increase your crop by at least 10 per cent.

Top dress the raspberry area with a four- inch layer of well-rotted manure and an ounce of sulphate of potash over each square yard. This will enhance the taste of the fruits.

Did you remember to cut the canes of Autumn Bliss raspberries right down to the ground? The fruit will be produced on all the new shoots which will grow like mad. Give them the manure and potash treatment too.

Buy a new variety of dahlia each week. They are in stock at garden centres but ensure you check the heights because a lot are only 12-18in high. The heights are in metric on the pack.

Give greenhouse fuchsias a little more water, but this is best done in the mornings so there is no surplus water lying around. It can still be very cold at night.

Fuchsia cuttings may be taken once the growth has seven leaves.

Did you remember to start up garden machinery, so you know it’s OK after all the damp weather? Check your spark plugs.

Bring the bag of seed sowing compost into the greenhouse so it isn’t cold when seed-sowing starts. Remember too, if it’s cold use polythene to divide the greenhouse so it is possible to keep a smaller area warmer with a little heater.

Outdoor grape vines need to be pruned as soon as possible. Keep the main stems but prune every side shoot to buds as close to the main stem as possible. Top dress the area around the vine with well-rotted manure.

Got a question for Brian? E-mail him at features@thenews.co.uk