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

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This week’s posers for Brian

Q: My roses are growing in 12in diameter pots. I cut them back really hard in late February as you often recommend. This year they have been wonderful as I have used your spraying programme. Next year I am going to invite a group of friends into my garden and want to ensure the roses are brilliant in June. What would you suggest? AL, Southsea.

A: I am pleased you found my advice helpful. In November take the plants out of the pots, shake off all the compost from the roots and use fresh John Innes No3 compost adding 10 per cent sharp sand and repot every one of the plants. Prune hard in late February and you will be delighted. Most people wouldn’t be bothered to change the compost, but it is a very good practice.

Q: I am trying to grow a pear tree on my patio. It is supposed to be suitable in a pot but there are masses of side growths coming off the main stem. I need advice please. HK, Southsea.

A: Thank you for the excellent photograph. Your question will be helpful to other readers. Take your time and prune off all the side shoots so only three of four leaves are left on every side shoot. This can be done right now. This is called summer pruning and if done like this every year from July to September will speed up production of fruit. The old saying ‘plant pears for your heirs’ can be contradicted if you summer prune.


Plant Dutch iris in pots, five around the edge of a 5in-diameter pot. Keep in the greenhouse.

Keep Autumn Bliss and other autumn fruiting raspberries moist. If given a liquid feed now, they will continue to fruit for weeks.

Pick blackberries regularly to prevent them dropping on the soil otherwise lots of unwanted plants will appear. Tie in those long, fast-growing stems which will provide next year’s fruit. Make bramble jelly. It tastes wonderful on vanilla ice cream.

Remove yellowing leaves on lower stems of Brussels sprouts. They make good compost.

Take cuttings of rosemary and lavender. Side shoots 5in long. Trim off all leaves apart from the top one inch and firm into a seed sowing compost adding 25 per cent sharp sand. Keep shaded.

Prune lavender now. Cut back really hard into a rounded shape. If you are worried how much should be pruned, cut every branch back, but ensure leaves are left on the shoots which are pruned. Give the plant a good drench of Maxicrop Complete plant food afterwards. Two gallons applied slowly would be ideal.

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