BRIAN KIDD: Readers' questions and gardening jobs for the week
Our gardening expert sifts through his inbox to solve your problems and has a list of jobs to be getting on with.
Q: I have an allotment but find my crops are damaged by strong winds. I am by a chain link fence and my plot faces east. What can I do to stop the winter winds? CL, Emsworth.
A: Ask your chairman if you can fix Rockline netting to the fence. It comes in rolls the same size needed to match the fence.
Q: Do you think curly kale will grow in my Hayling garden? We’re right beside the sea. BC, Hayling Island.
A: Yes. Next year plant them in April in a block. Ensure the plants are two feet apart each way. One will look after the other when it’s cold.
Q: I’ve been pleased with my begonias called Non Stop which you recommended. How can I keep them for next year? SL, Cosham.
A: I’ll write about this later on in the autumn. So make sure you keep reading The News. Q: My tomato fruits have a sunken area which has turned black. This has happened where the flower was situated. Do you know how I can get over this problem please? FL, Farlington.
A: This problem is called blossom end rot. Buy some calcium nitrate, they have it in stock at Keydell and the pack is labelled calcium. Follow the directions printed on the box and in three weeks the problem will be resolved.
Q: Some of my Brussels sprouts are wilting so I dug one out and there are white grubs in the roots. What is this pest and how can I get rid of it? BC, Waterlooville.
A: This pest is cabbage root fly larvae. Give each plant a pint of Provado vine weevil killer. In order to ensure it does the trick, gently fork over the soil around the plants to ensure the Provado does not run off everywhere.
JOBS FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
•Don’t let the lawn be spoiled by early leaf fall. The best way to pick up a light covering of leaves is to mow the grass and the leafy bits will help the grass compost.
•With a bit of luck, this is the last time we’ll have to cut hedges. So get it done and off the to-do list.
•If you have an allotment get some digging done. Remove weeds and leave the soil in clods to weather. Incorporate manure for potatoes, peas and beans. If you’re on clay, Warwick’s farm shop, Wickham, has potting grit ideal to scatter over clay. An inch or two on the top will do the trick.
•Buy alpines for a cold, empty greenhouse. They won’t mind a few side panes missing. It’s a good way to enjoy the greenhouse in winter. Better still in spring when they flower.
•Have you struggled all summer with a bad mowing machine? It won’t be long before the DIY shops will have special clearance offers. You can’t take your money with you, spend it and enjoy it.
•Plant out Brompton stocks about eight inches apart. These bloom between spring and early summer when there is little else in flowe. They are perfumed too.
•Plant a camellia. These accommodating plants start to flower in late winter. Choose one with plump terminal buds. These are the flower buds. Plant somewhere so that the morning sun won’t damage the blooms in frosty weather. A good container plant too. Use an ericaceous mix.
•Plant tubers of the autumn-flowering cyclamen, Cyclamen hederaefolium. These are often seen sold ‘loose’ in boxes at garden centres. They enjoy light shad. Simply plant the tuber half its depth in moistened soil.
Got a question for Brian? Click here and fire away.