Our gardening expert answers your queries
Q: There is a bamboo in the garden we have just bought. I have dug out a clump and put it into a huge container because I would like to keep it under control. How do we get rid of the rest of the clump which covers more than 10 square yards? KF, Locks Heath.
A: Cut down every stem to four inches. Then fill the tubes with Roundup. This will do the trick. Leave the treated area for about six months and then use a hand-held flame weeder to burn off the dead tubes.
Q: I keep reading your articles on greenhouse heaters. Are blue-flamed ones better than the yellow-flamed? There’s no electricity in the greenhouse. HD, Cosham.
A: Blue flame paraffin heaters are far better and more efficient. If you’re taking greenhouse gardening more seriously, get electricity into your greenhouse. A helpful suggestion. Keep saving £2 coins so you can get the money together!
Q: We have an allotment and the pigeons eat every leaf on sprouts and cabbages. We use netting in some areas but the nets are a nuisance because it is difficult to weed and hoe. What would you suggest please? A and DP, Purbrook.
A: Two suggestions. The first is to save up for a walk-in fruit cage. The second is to either make or buy a hawk and tie it on to cloche wire and insert into the top of an 8ft cane. The hawk will move around in the wind. I use one on my allotment for a raised strawberry bed and use walk in fruit cages for the larger areas.
Q: We have just moved to an old house with a pleasant garden, but at the bottom there is a huge overgrown blackberry. Is there a weed killer we could use to kill it? TL, Southsea.
A: Yes there is a weedkiller but when the blackberry dies the thorns will be a problem. The best idea is to use an empty dustbin and put a strong liner inside. Cut off long lengths of blackberry and then cut into small pieces which will fall into the liner in the bin. Leave 12in of stem on each plant and with gloved hands dig out the roots. Take your time and choose a pleasant day. Your question will help a lot of people.
JOBS FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
• If all the leaves on a poinsettia have fallen off it may not be your fault. It was probably over-watered before you bought it or too cold where it was sold. Make the best of the red bracts on top. Pick sprays of evergreens or pieces of conifer and stick these into the pot’s compost. This will make the bracts look less naked.
• Did you install a soil warming cable in the greenhouse? Many of you did because there are only a few left at garden centres.
• Germinating seedlings need good light. If there’s not enough, the stems become long, thin and weak. Wash greenhouse glass. Flash makes this job easier. When rinsing add two tablespoons of vinegar in a gallon of water. This gets rid of the limescale in our water.
• Check all indoor plants to ensure there are no whitefly around. If you see any, squash them and rub off any eggs which you will see on the backs of the leaves. This simple advice prevents a build-up of thousands of the little blighters. In the greenhouse, hang yellow traps up just above the plants. Give the plants a gentle shake occasionally nd the whitefly will fly onto the sticky traps.
• If you have frogs or toads in the greenhouse, they will need water so they may spawn. A sunken dustbin lid filled with water fits the bill. The rim must be at the same level as the soil otherwise they won’t be able to get in or out.
• Don’t leave it too late. Only seven weeks left to move trees and shrubs.
• Prune blackcurrant bushes. Remove the wood which fruited. You will see where the fruit was because there will be fine stems left behind where the fruit was last summer.
• Remove the lowest side shoots on gooseberries so the fruits will grow on clear stems, This helps enormously when you are bending down picking the berries.
• Prune HT and floribunda roses in the next fortnight. Cut stems back hard down to outward pointing buds. Give the bushes a feed using Vitax Q4 fertiliser forked in and a teaspoon full of Epsom salts and hoe this in. Epsom salts encourages excellent leaves and reduces black spot disease.
Got a question for Brian? Click here to ask it.