Music’s fine but water is what they really need

How do you get your amaryllis to flower like this?

BRIAN KIDD: Your letters and this week’s gardening tasks

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Wills and Karen from Waterlooville write to say they have just dug up a large area of grass to make what they hope will be a lovely curved border.

They say: ‘We have stacked the turf into four large heaps, neatly like you would lay bricks, and they are where we are going to create a vegetable garden. We are trying to be green and would like to make our own potting composts, so can we use the turf once it’s rotted down?’

Well the answer is yes. The turf will be ready during the autumn if you cover one of the heaps with a cheap tarpaulin to prevent weed growth.

Slice the turf stack vertically and sieve the loam. Use seven parts loam with three parts peat and two parts sharp sand and mix this together three times. For John Innes number 1 compost use 4oz of Vitax Q4 fertiliser to a six-gallon bucket of the compost

Once the fertiliser is added, mix the compost six times. For JI number 3, use 8oz of the fertiliser and this compost is used for potting plants in small pots into 4-5in diameter pots.

For final potting into 10-12in pots for tomatoes and things like chrysanthemums, use 12oz to 6 gallons of the compost. JI 2 is ideal for all kinds of bedding plant containers.

To sterilise the loam, put small quantities into a strong polythene bag with prick holes in the sides and place in an old microwave oven in the shed – because it smells. Use about a half-gallon bucket each time for seven minutes, then let it cool.

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