This week’s posers for Brian
Q: My dad gave me a chrysanthemum called Tuneful. It has bunches of apricot-coloured single flowers. Dad has passed away, but it was his favourite and I want to keep it growing and need your help please. HL, Denmead.
A: I love this variety and am glad you have it. Keep the plant moist and cut the stems down to four inches as soon as the flowers fade. Bring it into your greenhouse for winter. During March new shoots will appear. Take cuttings from these shoots. I have sent you a diagram showing you how to do this.
Q: Can you tell me what has happened to the roots on our beetroots on our allotment? We have never had this problem before. What has caused the roots to be cut off on one side? JD, Copnor. A: This damage has been caused by rats eating the crop. Use rat bait underneath wide rain water guttering. The pieces of guttering need to be about 15in long and held in place with a brick. Renew the bait each day and after four days the bait will be left untouched. This means the rat has died. Look every day and replace the bait. You are never farther than 10ft from a rat on allotment sites.
Q: Please will you write an article on how to grow vegetables and salad crops in a cold greenhouse during the winter. KF, Hambledon.
A: I will try to write about this shortly. Thank you for asking me to write about a particular topic, it’s good to know you enjoy these articles, I love writing them.
JOBS FOR THE COMING WEEK
Plant garlic, as long as you live here in the south. Split the bulbs into segments called pips. Plant in well-drained ground, a place where manure was incorporated last year. A very good one is Solent Wight, grown commercially on the good old Isle of Wight.
Sow seeds of Virginian stocks or night scented stocks at the front of a border. They are hardy and will provide short plants about eight inches tall with small perfumed flowers next summer.
Save egg cartons so when seed potatoes are ready to be set up you will have plenty of egg trays to keep the seed potatoes upright. Seed potatoes will be in the garden centres in January.
Clean the glass on the outside of the greenhouse. There are glass cleaners specially produced for this job or Flash, the floor cleaner, also does a good job.
Put up polythene bubbled insulation in the greenhouse. Choose a dull day to prevent it becoming too hot or being uncomfortable with the sun in your eyes. Plastic fixings can be purchased for this job, made especially for metal glasshouses, but drawing pins and cardboard squares can be used in wooden structures.
Got a question for Brian? E-mail him via firstname.lastname@example.org.