Our horticultural hotshot dips into his inbox and sets you to work
Q: I bought a cherry tree called Stella three years ago and had 50 cherries in August. I netted the fruits to stop birds eating them. Five branches are too tall and I won’t be able to use nets again. Shall I cut them back? HV, Gosport.
A: Bend the branches and tie them in so you can cover them with nets again. They won’t be so vigorous and there will be even more fruit if there’s no frost when the flowers emerge.
Q: Is it unlucky to move parsley? I sowed seeds in July and not one germinated. I was going to buy plants to plant in the garden but don’t want bad luck! GD, Cosham.
A: Don’t worry about these superstitions. When I was an apprentice I transplanted more than 200 parsley plants, enough to use in the veg display at the Southsea Show. If I had refused I would have received a kick up the behind!
Q: We have just been allocated an allotment. When can we plant shallots? J and PR, Fareham.
A: This is easy to remember. Plant the bulbs around about the shortest day of the year and they will be mature on the longest day.
Q: Is it best to sow onions from seeds or buy sets? HC, Emsworth
A: Most people find growing onions from sets is far quicker and more reliable. If readers do not know what sets are, they are dry baby bulbs which are kept in a perfect temperature and should be planted as soon as they come on sale at garden centres. Any time now.
JOBS FOR THE WEEKEND
• Take a look at the main walkway when you go to the garden centre. You will see an array of beautiful plants which will give instant impact in your garden. They have been arranged to give you inspiration. A visit to a garden centre is a good idea if you are fed up with the weather.
• If you want to get outside, clean the inside of the greenhouse. Wash the glass with Flash floor cleaner. This mops up red spider eggs too. Give the staging a clean too. The last job is the floor. If it’s soil, just sweep it.
• Sort out empty flowerpots. Allow them to soak in washing up water. Give them a scrub, allow them to dry and then put them into the correct sizes. Do a few each day.
• Have a look at the trays of spring bedding plants in shops and nurseries and you will see lovely colours to give you ideas for your garden.
• Plan a few changes in the garden and plan what you would like to complete before the end of winter.
• Sow seeds of early peas. Sow them in insert cells, about two to each cell.They need no heat. Keep them in a protected spot. A cold frame is a good place BUT protect from mice. Mice will eat the lot in 48 hours. Look for Feltham First; this is an easy one to grow. If sown directly into the soil, they are even more prone to mice.
• Make an appointment to have the mower serviced. It’s quiet at workshops at this time of year.
• Cut down runner bean vines. When digging the ground, chop up the knobbly roots, they are full of nitrogen and are as good as manure when rotting down.
• Clean runner bean sticks and make a cradle to keep them dry and off the ground. This will prolong their life.
• Have a look at cyclamen in pots at your nursery. Remember they like to be kept cold but in a light, not hot, window.
Got a question for Brian? Click here and fire away.