This week’s readers’ questions
Q: I often read your articles about preventing carrot root fly and you always suggest insect barrier mesh. Will net curtains do the trick? JV, Milton.
A: No. Insect barrier mesh is much finer. This nylon mesh will remain in good condition for many years and is a good investment.
Q: I now find gardening a bit difficult but still keep my little borders beautiful. What bedding plants don’t need to be dead-headed? I hate taking off dead blooms as my knees ache. VP, Denmead.
A: You won’t be disappointed if you bed out with Begonia semperflorens. Dead-heading is not needed and you never have to sweep up dead flowers. Pam and I plant hundreds because they are trouble-free and the bees love them.
Q: My little boy loves growing seeds and wants to grow trees from seeds. Trouble is the garden is very small. You seem to have some good ideas. How can I please my little boy? Sally, Fratton.
A: I put my junior thinking cap on for this one! Introduce him to Bonsai trees. I have sent you a leaflet so you can encourage him to make a start. If he likes the idea he can have a miniature forest on his bedroom windowsill.
Q: Can you tell me what has been eating my radishes? There are tunnels in the roots.How can this be prevented? VP, Hedge End.
A: Slugs the size of a match-head are responsible. Another sowing can be made now. Sow them in loamless compost in a container.
Q:Have you ever heard of a climbing annual called Brown eyed Suzy? I can’t find one but would love to grow it again. Ada Purbrook.
A:I agree with you, it is a beautiful plant and you should be able to find them at Keydell nursery at Horndean. They should have them in stock very soon.
Q:Is it too late to sow beetroot? GV, Fareham.
A:No, beetroot can be sown every fortnight from April until the end of June for continuous supplies of tender leaves and baby beetroots. Have you tried roasted beetroot? Put them between the roast potatoes.
WHAT TO DO THIS WEEK
This is the most exciting time. Wall baskets, hanging baskets and window boxes can be planted. If it’s very windy, wait until it passes. We all know what it is like to suffer from the wind!
If the stems on potato plants look a bit thin, the crop will not be good. Thick haulms indicate a good crop. Scatter sulphate of ammonia along the rows, using 2oz per yard run and hoe this into the soil. Now earth up the haulms again and give the plants a good watering. This will increase the yield.
Did you prune your forsythia? Use strong secateurs and remove all the wood which had flowers. If this looks a daunting job, pull out one branch at a time, look for side shoots close to the ground and cut back to where the side shoots can be seen. Pull back the next branch and do the same. The sprays of prunings can be used to support perennial plants.
Keep the hoe going and pick up all the weeds and put them in the compost bin. If left on top of the soil, it will cause Murphy’s law to strike.
Blackcurrants like nitrogen at this time of year. Give them a dressing of sulphate of ammonia using 2oz per square yard and fork this into the surface of the soil. If you like to be organic, then top dress the plants with well-made compost but water the soil before and after the application.
Tie in shoots of blackberry, Try to stop the tips rooting in the soil. If they insist on going down towards the soil, cut the tips off.
Potato and tomato blight will be here soon and this year we will be PREVENTING the problem won’t we? Buy Copper Mixture, you will find this in green drums at your garden centre.
Plant out runner beans, even if you don’t have a garden. They look wonderful in a flower border or in growing bags. Just use a little bit of imagination. Runner beans in July – won’t be long now!
Got a question for Brian? E-mail him here.