This week’s posers for Brian
Q: I bought a golden-leafed Eleagnus two years ago. I am delighted with this shrub but there is a strong growing shoot which has grown rapidly and is now three feet above the other branches. Is this normal? KP, Hambledon.
A: This has emerged from the root and is a sucker. Fork around the shrub’s base and with a trowel find out exactly where the sucker emerged. Cut it out with a sharp knife and paint the wound with root hormone liquid or hormone rooting powder to stop it growing again.
Q: I found a packet of colchicum bulbs a few weeks ago, planted them in a sunny spot and they are all in bloom. I wanted to let you know my children are thrilled to
bits. GF, Widley.
A: I was very pleased you told me about this. Yes, children like to see things happen quickly.
Q: We have a water lily in our pond but this year it has grown like mad. How can I make it smaller? DL, Westbourne.
A: We had the same problem. We dragged the huge lily to one side of the pond and I sawed it into five pieces to get the whole thing out. It was easier than I thought. It took about an hour and the sawing was quite easy.
Q: We love beetroot and I grew three rows. My partner has pickled one row but can I leave the rest in the ground for roasting? You can’t roast pickled beetroot. SK, Clanfield.
A: Beetroot can be left in the ground all winter or stored in boxes of dry sand, but the boxes must be rat proof.
JOBS FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
Most gardening books recommend pruning Autumn Bliss raspberries in February, but here in the south canes can be cut down to soil level as soon as the canes have finished fruiting. After pruning, a top dressing of well-rotted manure is applied all over the bed. A four-inch layer is perfect.
Lots of leaves are now falling. Are you making leaf mould? Put 12in layers in large former compost bags turned inside out. After each layer sprinkle on one part urine to seven parts water and sprinkle, don’t pour. Do this after each layer. Leaf mould will be ready in 12 months.
Take off every rose leaf which has black spot disease and put them into the dustbin. Pick up all fallen leaves too and spray the roses with copper mixture – three level caps in a gallon of water. Shake the container well, spray the bushes and the surface of the soil too.
Plant a few narcissus bulbs in a flower pot in John Innes No2 or No3 compost and put them in the greenhouse for an early display in February,
Pick off yellowing leaves on all types of cabbage, especially Brussels sprouts. This encourages a flow of air below the plant’s crown and reduces the disease which rots sprouts. Compost the leaves.
Got a question for Brian? E-mail him via firstname.lastname@example.org