BRIAN KIDD: Answers your questions and has a list of jobs for the week ahead

Curly and twisted carrots. 

Shutterstock
Curly and twisted carrots. Shutterstock

SOUTHSEA GREEN: Winter life at the community garden

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Our gardening expert delves into his postbag

Q: I have been growing a lovely double flowering Japanese petunia called adventurer and it is highly-perfumed. It will not produce seeds. What would you suggest please? ND, Emsworth.

A: Give the plant a good soak of Maxicrop to make some new growth and take cuttings 3 inches long and put them into your greenhouse. Place newspaper over the cuttings to prevent excess water loss.

Q: I am new to gardening and tried to grow carrots. I covered them with fine mesh as you wrote about this last spring. My carrots are all curly and twisted. What can I do next time?

GL, Fareham.

A Once they are about 4 to 6 inches high, water after thinning and cover them with insect barrier mesh again. Don’t worry, all is not lost. Thin them out now and you will get some decent carrots.

Q: I was taking the compost out of my compost bin and a rat rushed out. It frightened the life out of me. A man on our allotment pushed the bin over and killed a nest of small rats with a shovel. How can I stop rats getting into my bin again? FM, Copnor.

A: Buy some small square metal mesh. Put the bin in another area and put the mesh on the ground. Push the bin onto the mesh and the rats won’t be able to get into the bin. I share your dislike of rats!

Q: I have enclosed a specimen of what I think is a mosquito. Can you tell me if this is correct please? SL, Hayling Island.

A: This excellent specimen is a daddy long legs which has emerged from leather jackets in a lawn.

Q: You wrote recently about grass seed and rye grass. I thought rye grass was a grass which grows like mad and needs constant mowing. Can you explain please? VP, Southsea.

A: My word you are keen! A great deal of grass research has taken place over a number of years and we now have about 12 different varieties of rye grass all of which are hard-wearing, dwarf and very strong indeed and need less cutting. Have a look at packs of seeds and you will see the varieties and you won’t go wrong when buying them.

JOBS FOR THE WEEK AHEAD

•This is the last time to sow grass seed for a new lawn. Try to get it done before October because grass seed germinates well while the ground is warm and damp. Patches on lawns can be repaired quickly. Put 1lb of good quality grass seed to 10lbs of moistened seed compost and mix well. Place in a black polythene bag for a week to chit the seeds. Prick over the grass with a digging fork and then scatter over the chitted seed and compost and water afterwards. This amount will repair about 5 square yards.

•Sow seeds of larkspur in little patches where they are to flower. They are perfectly hardy. Choose a sunny area in well-drained soil.

•Give Autumn Bliss raspberries a high potash liquid feed if there are lots of green berries and flowers. The flowers will then provide ripe fruits in four weeks’ time.

•Plant daffodils, but don’t forget other little gems such as chionodoxa, scilla, iris reticulata and anemone blanda. These all give us something to look forward to seeing in the spring.

•Hoe through wallflower plants or better still hand-weed the rows because chick weed quickly smothers these plants at this time of year.

•Remove runners on newly planted strawberry plants or layer them into three-inch diameter pots if more are needed.

•Pot up strawberry plants needed for greenhouse culture. Loamless compost is not suitable. Much better results are achieved using JI No3 compost. The plants must remain outside in the cold until the end of January to prepare them for greenhouse culture. A spell in the cold encourages the plants to produce hormones which ensure there are flowers in early summer.

Got a question for Brian? Click here and fire away.