Our horticultural hotshot answers your questions and has timely jobs for you to complete
Q: My dad loved his greenhouse and garden and recently I had to clear out his shed. I was able to give his tools to a local group who were delighted. I found a pot of pieces of broken clay pots and wonder why he kept them. HC, North End.
A: Your dear dad was a good gardener because those pieces of broken flower pots were to be used in the base of pot plants. Most people don’t use crocks any more which is a pity because it is one of the basic principles of gardening excellence. Good old dad ! Loved your letter.
Q: I have a stone slope in my garden which gets slippery. I feed the birds every day and you are quite right, buy the right food and all the birds arrive. I have a tame robin who eats out of my hand. How can I get rid of the slippery surface? DBM, Widley.
A: There is an excellent product called Brinton’s path cleaner. Take your glasses so you can read the instructions. I always give this advice and people laugh at me, but it makes sense if you are over 30! I'm delighted your robin eats from your hand. What a thrill. I've told my grandchildren.
Q: I have been told that banana skins are good to use as a feed for roses, is this true? CO, Rowlands Castle.
A: This is true. Banana skins have quite a lot of potassium. They can be cut up with scissors and thrown on to the rose bed or placed in the compost heap.
JOBS FOR THE COMING WEEK
• Some garden centres are selling bulbs half-price. Don't miss out. Make sure you put five inches of soil over the top of the bulbs and they will thrive.
• If you have apples which have shrivelled, cut them in half and put them on the grass. Blackbirds will soon eat them and the skins will be left behind ready for composting.
• Prick over the soil where spring-flowering bedding plans such as polyanthus, forget-me-nots and winter- flowering pansies were planted. This will encourage good root action because the surface compaction will be broken.
• Get on with digging and manuring where potatoes, peas and beans are to be planted.
• Note the extra minutes of light we're now getting. Put a note in the gardening diary of plants which look good. It’s good to read what happened now in a few years. Our daphne Jaquiline Postill is in full bloom and the perfume wonderful.
• Sow exhibition onions from seeds in the propagator in the greenhouse. Seeds of onions sown now are far less likely to go to seed quickly in early summer.
• To keep the little ones occupied, get them to jot down the names of birds visiting the garden. If there are none, buy some wild bird food and you will be amazed how quickly they arrive to feed. Soak bread in water and put this in the centre of the garden so the birds have a chance to fly away from cats and PLEASE don’t throw bread into the road. Cars also kill birds.
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