Brian Kidd dons his size eights to deal with earwigs

Daphne Jacqueline Postill
Daphne Jacqueline Postill
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... and has plenty of jobs to keep you occupied this weekend

Q: About three years ago I bought a daphne called Jacqueline Postill because you wrote about it in The News. There are three seedlings about 6in high and the leaves are exactly the same as the parent plant. Do you think they will be as good as the original plant which I adore? HC, Gosport.

A: I’m pleased you’re growing this daphne which I think is one of the finest. Good news, the seedlings will be as good as the original shrub.

Q: Can you tell me what is attacking my viburnum? The leaves are full of holes and some look as if they are shredded. EW, Fareham

A: You have lots of earwigs in your garden. Put a flower pot on a stick about six to eight inches high and put a sheet of screwed-up newspaper in the pot. Put the pot into the foliage of the shrub. Each morning unwrap the paper near a smooth paving stone and give the earwigs a smart size eight. Do this every day until the weather becomes very cold.

Q: I have always grown early peas on my allotment but last year they were sown in early November in the open ground and not one germinated because mice ate the seeds. I want to endorse your idea of planting seeds in cells in a cold greenhouse because I get excellent germination. I’d always thought your idea was a waste of time! JE, Fareham.

A: I’m delighted you’ve been so successful. The pea variety Meteor can still be planted in cells in the greenhouse. It’s a job you can get on with if the weather is bad or the soil on the allotment is too wet.

Q: I have a massive apple tree and would like to know if there is a person I can trust to prune if for me. Have you any idea how much a professional would charge? DP, Denmead.

A: I have sent you a list of three people who could undertake this job for you. The average cost is between £10 and £15 per hour. If you decide not to use one of those suggested I must advise you not to make any payment until the job is complete and all the prunings are removed from your garden. Write down the vehicle registration number if you are in doubt. Make sure the removal of the prunings is part of the contract.


Bush roses need to be reduced in height to prevent them rocking in the wind. Allow the last buds to open and then reduce the shoots by about one third of their length. Cut back to a bud facing the outside of the bush and put the prunings straight into a container so there is no clearing up afterwards.

At this time of year, all roses appreciate a 4in-thick top dressing of well-rotted manure over the surface of the bed. Remove weeds before applying the manure.

Well-rotted farmyard manure is available in large plastic bags at all garden centres now. It’s better than home-made compost because it’s weed-free.

Roses in pots? Take the plants out of the pots and remove all the old compost then repot in John Innes No3. Put little feet underneath the pots to prevent worms getting in.

Try to clear leaves from grassed areas regularly because this prevents a disease called fusarium attacking the roots of the grass.

Pick up the leaves as soon as there is a small heap, put them into large plastic sacks to rot down. Trying to pull loads of leaves towards you with a rake is good for stomach muscles. It’s as good as a workout, but they’ll ache for days afterwards.

Take a walk around the garden to see how many plants are still in flower. Make a note of them even if there’s only one flower. Flowers keep winter at bay.

The best time to plant shallots for picking next autumn is on the shortest day of the year. Prepare for this by forking over where they are to be planted , cover the area with horticultural fleece to keep it dry and when planting the shallots, use a plank to walk over the soil. This will avoid compacting the surface.

Soil which has been dug over may be covered with chickweed. This is very annoying but may be overcome by carefully watering the weeds with Weedol 2. This will kill the weeds quickly if applied on a bright, sunny day. This product kills all plants so it must not drift on to plants which are to be cultivated.

Just in case you have forgotten, sow seeds of broad beans and early peas in insert cells indoors or in a cold greenhouse. This idea helps save time and allows the plants to be planted in the garden or allotment when time and soil conditions are right.

If you have a Cymbidium orchid it should start to show some flower spikes fairly soon. Keep some rain water because it will need more water than usual once the flower spikes appear.

This is a good time to plant evergreen shrubs in the garden for instant colour. At garden centres, you will see outstanding shrubs because the evergreen ones are looking really cheerful. Read the labels, see how large they grow, pick out a few, lay them out on the path so that you can see what they will look like in your garden. It’s also a good idea to arrange them so that the foliage contrasts, not just the colours but the leaf shapes and habit of the plants.

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