Brian answers readers’ horticultural questions
Asparagus is best moved in November and December in pleasant weather. Once the plants have been cut right down, dig them out and wash off all the soil. Remove any horsetail roots. Wrap the roots in wet material to ensure they are kept wet and replant the same day in your garden at home.
I grow roses, shrubs and patio fruit in pots and they are not as good as they were. I read one of your articles and you suggested changing the compost. I am building up the courage to do this and will use John Innes No3 compost adding 10 per cent extra sharp sand. When is the best time to do this and will I have to feed the plants next summer? KS, Southsea.
This can be done any time between now and the end of February, but it’s best to do it now and get it out of the way. Use liquid feed from April but stop in September. Your compost is exactly what I advise.
We have sent you a tulip bulb planted in October. It was in a border but an animal has dug it out and just left the brown case. What caused this? F and PW, Fareham.
It’s been eaten by squirrels. Put empty, upturned hanging baskets over the area.
Our boys tried to grow sunflowers to enter The News giant sunflower competition but each plant had five flowers and although very pretty they were the wrong type. I am determined to find seeds of the very tall types and think you may have the secret. WL, Copnor.
If you send a letter to Suttons Seeds, Torquay, asking for a seed catalogue you will find seeds of a sunflower called Giraffe in the catalogue. These produce the very high flowers which win the prizes. Bear in mind the plants need to be in well prepared ground so get the boys to dig the area now and plant the seeds in April in pots and plant the strongest one.
JOBS FOR THE WEEK
The colder weather is doing a great job breaking down the clods of soil which were dug over a few weeks ago. Keep off newly-dug soil otherwise the surface will become sticky and cling to your shoes.
Try to get tulip bulbs in during the next few days. This is an excellent time to plant them because they are far less likely to suffer slug damage. The cold weather induces slugs to sleep for a while.
The leaves on the Brussels sprouts continue to look brown or yellow at the base of the plants. Take them off and compost them. Brussels sprouts which look as if they are rotting will recover in spring. The rotting is caused by the wet weather. In March, the ones which look as if they were rotten will burst out into Brussels sprout rosettes which are delicious, just as good as spring cabbage.
Spring cabbages which should be ready for picking in May need protection from pigeons and slugs. Get nets for the pigeons and pellets for the slugs. The nets will stop the birds getting the pellets.
Plants of lettuce Winter Imperial sown in the cold greenhouse eight weeks ago, recommended by me, are now ready to be potted into 5in-diameter pots in John Innes number 2 compost. Add 10 per cent extra sharp sand or sharp grit, mix well together and don’t over-water the plants. If the weather remains mild, you will have lettuce for Christmas. You could plant these in the growing bags which were used for the tomatoes a few weeks ago. I do this.
Look at the hyacinth bulbs you put into deep pots last October and left on the garage floor in the dark. Bring them indoors once the buds are four to five inches tall, but not before.
Have you taken down the runner bean canes yet? No? Nor have I, but I mean to do it this week with a bit of luck.
Got a problem? Write to Brian via firstname.lastname@example.org.