Brian Kidd answers your questions and suggests jobs for the coming week

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Brian solves your horticultural conundrums

Q: A friend has been given a coffee plant. How should he look after it? DR, Portchester.

A: Grow it as a house plant, not in the garden. It’s best kept in a light place like a windowsill but not in direct sunlight. It will grow quite quickly in summer but slow in winter. Re-pot the plant once it’s crammed with roots, using John Innes No2 compost. Re-potting is best done in spring. Water if the compost feels dry.

Q: We have a lavender which keeps flopping over, what can we do to make it more bushy and upright? CP, Emsworth.

A: Give the shrub a good drink of water, certainly two gallons. The next day cut back every shoot leaving only four to six inches of stem intact. Give it a drench of two gallons of Maxicrop Complete liquid fertiliser and new shoots will start to grow. These will be upright as they should be. If new shoots fail to grow, spray the shrub all over the foliage with the Maxicrop. You will find this at Keydell Nurseries. Not all garden centres stock it.

Q: Our delphiniums were the best ever this year. I’ve heard it’s possible to get them to bloom again in the autumn. J and GL, Hambledon.

A: Cut the old flowering stems down to where there are healthy leaves and fork around the soil to a depth of about four inches. Soak each plant with Maxicrop Complete liquid fertiliser, at least a gallon applied slowly. Repeat after three weeks. You’ll then see a ring of new shoots and these will produce spikes of flower in late September. They won’t be as tall as the originals, but will add a thrill to the autumn garden.


Sow another batch of dwarf French beans. Be prepared to cover them with cloches in September and they will provide beans until the cold weather arrives.

Feed indoor cucumbers twice a week with a high nitrogen liquid feed to encourage rapid growth. More little cucumbers will form in mid-August. If white patches appear on the leaves, apply a thick dusting of sulphur powder which will prevent powdery mildew from spreading.

Sow large-rooted radish for winter stews in a drill outdoors.

Trim the dead flowers on sunroses ­(helianthemum) to encourage new growth for masses of blooms next summer.

Sow short rows of Autumn King 2 carrots which can be left in the ground for digging during the winter. Cover the row with insect barrier mesh suspended by half circles of plastic water piping to keep carrot root fly away from the seedlings. Waterlooville allotment store stocks this mesh and it can be bought by the metre. The store is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am until 11.30am and is at Forset End, Waterlooville, just behind the fire station.

Spray roses with Multirose to keep blackspot and rose-invading insects under control.

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