BRIAN KIDD: A reader's question inspired by Remembrance Sunday, plus a list of jobs to be getting on with

Our gardening expert dips into his bulging inbox and sets you to work.

Saturday, 2nd June 2018, 3:19 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th June 2018, 2:36 pm

Q: I tried to have wild flowers combined with a lawn. It was all right, but having just watched the remembrance commemorations I wish there were poppies in this area. Can you buy wild poppy plants? BM, Hambledon.

A: I have never seen wild poppy plants on sale but you can buy wild poppy seeds at your garden centre. You will find them in the wild flower section together with primrose and cowslip seeds. Simply rake the area where you want them to grow and scatter the seeds. Don't cover them with soil but water with a rose on the watering can.

Q: There are seed pods on my runner beans. Can I save these to grow next year? LD, Copnor.

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A: Yes. Allow the seeds to dry completely and then put them in an envelop. Write the name on the envelope with the date and sow the beans next April.

Q: I sowed a batch of Feltham First peas in cells in my greenhouse. Last night something happened in the greenhouse because there was compost all over the bench and part of the plastic cells was damaged. I think all the pea seeds have gone. Any ideas? HV, Rowlands Castle.

A: Your peas have been consumed by mice or perhaps rats. Don't give up. Find a pair of plastic buckets and put a couple of pieces of wood across the top of the buckets to form a shel. Put the trays on the shelf and replace the pea seeds. Rodents will not be able to climb up the buckets. I have to do this in my greenhouse at my allotment.

Q: We bought 12 Cambridge Favourite strawberry plants last April and planted them in our allotment. They cropped well. The bed was lovely and clean but we have not been well and this area is now overgrown, with weeds mixed with runners from the original plants. What do you think we should do to get them sorted out again? G and LW, Cowplain.

A: Cut the path first and then cut the grass edge. Use a kneeler to remove the weeds and put the weeds into buckets. Any runners with a good root can be replanted in another place but compost any which are feeble.

Q: A few of my potato tubers are green inside and I am told not to eat thes. Is this correct? I have never done any gardening until this year. HD, Eastney.

A: Green skins on potatoes are poisonous. If you earth up the rows there will be fewer green tubers.


Sow early broad bean seeds now. Aqua Dulcie Claudia is one of the best. It is very hardy. Avoid slug damage by sowing a single seed in each cell of an insert tray. The 24 cells that fit a standard seed tray will be best. This gives you the opportunity to plant them at a time suitable to you. Plant a clump of rhubarb. Early Timperley is the earliest, but Victoria is the lovely red-stemmed variety. Existing rhubarb can be lifted and divided now. For an early crop, dig out a large crown and leave it on top of the ground to become frosted during the winter. After frosting it can be forced in the airing cupboard in the dark. Save some rain water for acid-loving plants you may receive at Christmas. Azaleas and potted heathers love it. Buy shallot bulbs because good gardeners plant them on the shortest day. Shallots are much easier to grow than onions and have an extra special flavour '“ better than onions. Did you know shallots can be cooked in the same way as onions? One shallot has the same amount of flavour as a huge onion? Did you know the new leaves produced by shallots taste better than spring onions? When planting tulip bulbs cut up a quarter of a shallot and put this on top of the tulip bulb because it will keep squirrels away as the shallot disguises the smell of the tulip bulbs. Weeds on the lawn can be tackled a small area at a time. Lay a plank on the grass, kneel down and remove the weeds by hand. An old-fashioned daisy grubber is useful. A sharp knife is also handy. Do a square yard at a time. Christmas presents for gardeners. Azaleas, heathers, poinsettia, orchids in pots. Stainless steel tools. A soil- warming cable. And ladies, PLEASE - we blokes don't want socks, handkerchiefs, ties and aftershave. Ladies buy aftershave for men so they have something for a raffle in the New Year! Got a question for Brian? Click here and fire away.