BRIAN KIDD: Your questions answered and jobs for the week ahead

Astilbe: a vision in pink and great in mud. Picture: Magnus Manske/Wikimedia
Astilbe: a vision in pink and great in mud. Picture: Magnus Manske/Wikimedia

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

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Our gardening expert dips into his inbox

Q: I sowed Meteor early peas six weeks ago and only seven out of 90 seeds germinated. They’re in a fruit cage so birds are not responsible. Shall I complain to the seed supplier or do you know what has gone wrong. Is it too late to buy more?HC, Denvilles.

A: It’s mice. Grow them indoors in cells – just two seeds per cell. It isn’t too late, but main crop peas can also be sown now. Whichever you choose you will be picking peas 90 days after they have germinated.

Q: Can you tell us the names of three plants which will flower each year in mud?
J and PB, Fareham.

A: Astilbe, 18in high in pink, red or white. Primula japonica or primula Kashmeriana about a foot high, and Trollius, about 15in tall with yellow or orange flowers. There are others, but all of these are beautiful.

Q: I saved seeds from my rhubarb two years ago and last year the stems were very thin. They are lovely plants and have started to grow again. Can I pick the stems this year? GD, Locks Heath.

A: Yes, but top dress the ground all over the area where they are growing with a 4in layer of farmyard manure. You can buy bags of manure at your garden centre.

Q: I read your articles every week and tried to get green-seeded broad bean seeds but there were none left. I had a trip to Reading and asked in a nursery if they had any and the assistant was brilliant and found a large packet for me. Am I too late to plant the seeds and as there are so many can I keep some for next year? Molly, Cosham.

A: Well done Molly. Full marks for endeavour. Sow some now and they will be fine. Then seal the packet and keep it dry and the remainder will germinate next March.

Q: Please will you write about growing fragrant sweet peas. I want to grow some for a wedding in late July. LV, Paulsgrove and KC, Waterlooville.

A: It gives me a great deal of pleasure when you request a particular topic and this week’s main article heere on The News website is devoted to you. I hope both weddings are wonderful occasions,

JOBS FOR THE COMING WEEK

• Please ensure birds have clean drinking water. Many are still making nests and they need water to do it.

• Plant tomato plants in the greenhouse in growing bags, three in a bag. A bottomless 10in pot placed over the top of the hole made in the bag for the plant and filled with compost is a good idea because it makes correct watering a lot easier.

• Keep horticultural fleece handy in case we have a nasty frost. Severe ones will penetrate the glass if there is no heat in the glasshouse.

• Sow seeds in the greenhouse of rapid-growing plants such as French marigolds and zinnias.

• Take hardier bedding plants out into a cold frame but cover the top with carpet if frost is likely.

• Sow seeds outdoors of beetroot and mid-season Brussels sprouts and late cauliflower.

• Earth up early potatoes using well-rotted compost and water the plants regularly to avoid potato scab. Moist soil helps prevent potato scab.

• Watch out for greenfly on roses and blackfly on broad beans. Use aphid control liquid in the late evening to control these pests.

• Don’t clean up all the little bits around the garden, birds will pick them up for nesting material.

• Make sure garden chairs and tables are clean. We will be able to sit out in the garden soon!

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