Brian Kidd on filling unsightly gaps in your borders and jobs for the coming week
This week's readers' questions
Q : I think I have made a big mistake in my flower border. A lot of the flowers, like grannies’ bonnets and Easter daisies, have finished flowering so there are lots of gaps and I have a garden party at the end of July. Help please! HL, Emsworth.
A: Hope the garden party in aid of the Rocky Appeal goes well. Pam and I support this great charity. You should find pots containing cosmea at your garden centre or nursery.There are about three plants in each pot. Water the compost and with your fingers and thumbs tease out the roots and plant them singly in the gaps. The ones in bloom will look great immediately, but once the flower at the top dies, remove two inches of the stem and give them a good feed of Maxicrop Complete liquid fertiliser. Results? Amazing.
Q: I have been very pleased with my primula denticulata this year. It survived despite it being under water for three weeks here at Denmead. Mine are all blue. Are there any other colours? HL, Denmead.
A: Yes, you will find whites, pinks and reds which can be grown from seed. Have a good look at a seed catalogue.
Q: My dad grows purple sprouting broccoli but my children don’t like the colour of the vegetable when it’s cooked. Is it possible to change the colour? I smother the broccoli with white sauce but they still won’t eat it. Karen, Eastney.
A: Buy your dad a packet of white winter-sprouting broccoli. He can sow the seeds now. The tips look like tiny cauliflowers and your children will love to eat this vegetable.
Watch out for leaf curling, particularly on plums and cherries. Underneath the leaves will be hundreds of aphids. Simply cut off the infected tips and put the prunings into a bucket so these pests won’t escape. Then spray the trees with liquid Pyrethum (it is on sale as Py) but avoid drifting, it kills fish. Spray in the evening after the sun has gone off the trees.
Transplant seedlings of Sweet Williams in rows 18 inches apart. If you forgot to sow the seeds, they can be sown now.
Tie in stems on dahlias. On large varieties, three canes may be better than one. Dahlia foliage is very heavy after rain.
Keep taking off dead flowers on all flowering plants to ensure blooms keep forming, particularly on annuals.
Bend new shoots on climbing and rambling roses to form arches. This will ensure blooms will be borne on the side of the shoots, not just on the tops.
Feed sweet peas with Maxicrop Complete liquid feed and remove every seed pod to keep them blooming for longer.
Thin out apples and plums so none of the fruits touch another. Spray afterwards with copper mixture to prevent brown rot on plums.
Sow seeds of winter turnip and large rooted radish for winter soups. Dust seedlings with ant killer dust to prevent flea beetle damage (tiny holes in leaves with crispy brown edges on the leaves).
Cut back all side shoots on cherries, nectarines and peaches by half the length of the rapidly-growing shoots. This will encourage flower buds on the parts you leave behind. Those buds form next year’s fruits.
Take cuttings of all types of daphne. Side shoots three inches long are ideal. Plant them in 75 per cent sharp sand with 25 per cent peat or peat substitute. Keep them in the shade. They will take many weeks to root.
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