Questions, answers and jobs for the coming week

Peace rose
Peace rose
Treat them well and phalaenopsis could flower for nine months.

BRIAN KIDD: Just perfect for winter: these orchids love central heating

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Brian answers readers’ horticultural questions

We have what we believe is a standard Peace rose (pictured). My wife thinks it should be pruned hard, but I think it should be treated more gently because of its age. MD, Gosport.

Prune it really hard at the end of February or during early March if the weather is bad in February. Feed it with Vitax Q4 pelleted fertiliser forked into the top four inches of the soil during mid-April and you will find it will produce new shoots with lovely blooms. Women are always right.

Can you tell me what the white lumps are which I have dug out of the garden. PG, Denmead.

They are bluebell seedlings.

We planted two rows of spring-hearting cabbages and nearly half are damaged. The little plants have only the main stem and stalks left on the leaves. What has caused this? K and PL, Eastney.

The same thing has happened to mine. It’s green caterpillars. They’re difficult to find but examine each leaf, particularly on the veins, and squash them.

How do I use a bicycle wheel to train a plum tree so it weeps, keeps small and fruits well? How do I get it over the tree? GD, Copnor.

Remove the spokes. Saw through the wheel with a hacksaw. Now peg the wheel into the soil using wooden, foot-long pegs. Screw these into the holes in the wheel’s rim. Pull down the branches and tie them to the wheel, using strong twine.

Can you tell me the name of a lettuce I could grow in a cold frame during the winter please? I don’t want a cos lettuce. KS, Eastney.

I would recommend Winter Imperial, Arctic King or May Queen. They are all good and you should be able to get seeds of one of them now. My seedlings of Winter Imperial look very good under a cold frame. Cold frames are very useful.

JOBS FOR THE WEEK

As there is less foliage in the garden, there appear to be more cats. Dip six-inch-long sticks into a jar of garlic paste so three inches of paste is at the top. Push them into the ground. Cats hate the smell of garlic.

If you can’t be bothered to clean the pond, (the best time is as soon as all the leaves have fallen) take out the water pump, give it a scrub and keep in a dry shed all winter.

If the pond is clean at this time of year, the water is not too cold, there is less shock for the fish and there is no frogspawn to worry about.

This is the best time to transplant trees and shrubs. You would be surprised at how many letters I receive asking if it’s too late in June! When transplanting or moving plants around, choose a nice day. Don’t be pushed into trying to do it when the weather is unsuitable.

If renewing fence posts look at Metpost fixings. They make the job a lot easier. Postmix is easy to use too. Dig the hole, put in the post and pour in the dry mix. Soak the post-ends in creosote substitute the day before. There’s nothing wrong with creosote substitute by the way, it’s good as well as cheap.

Check there are no rotten nuts in the bird feeders. Rotten nuts kill blue tits. Please put water out for the birds.

Plant seeds of early peas in cells in the cold greenhouse, only two pea seeds in each cell, using the 24 cells which fit into a standard seed tray. No heat needed. Just make sure they are in a place where mice can’t get them. Keep them on the dry side otherwise they will rot. Be careful not to give them too much water. Feltham First seeds are easy to find.

Save up for a soil warming cable for the greenhouse or buy one as a present for the gardener in your life for Christmas.