Your problems solved by our horticultural wizard as well as a whole list of jobs - yes, even in November.
Q: I have a border in which I grow cornus, ladies’ mantle and astilbe. They grow here because the ground is always wet. At one end at the base of the slope the ground is very wet and during winter a puddle can be seen most days. What can I plant in the puddled area? HC, Denmead.
A: The best plants will be water iris, primula denticulata and king cups.
Q: We have a wood-burning stove and wonder if the ash will be OK in the garden. Where could we use it? K and PF, Farlington.
A: Scatter it below hedges to prevent slugs entering your garden. Scatter lightly over areas where shrubs and all types of fruits grow. Pour some into the compost heap. Always use light dressings. Other readers will be pleased to read this. Be careful on clay soils though. It makes clay very sticky so add sharp sand as well. Q: Can you tell me why a large branch on my camellia Donation is wilting? JD, Waterlooville.
A: Thank you for the photo. I got my magnifying glass out and saw the label had been tied to the wilting branch and the wire has restricted the flow of sap. If you cut the wire, the branch will recover. I think the recovery will be speeded up if you spray underneath the foliage with water just three times in one week.
Q: I must sort out my herbaceous border but am wondering when to divide phlox, rudbeckia and golden rod? NC, Hilsea.
A: All of these can be split during the autumn. Salvias, asters and Peruvian lilies are best divided in late March. The reason for this is because plants which are moved around in autumn often lie in a sump if the soil tends to be wet or the border has a clay soil.
Q: I am growing vegetables in deep boxes because I live in a flat with a tiny courtyard. Will I get the better crop from broad beans or peas? HS, Cosham.
A: Aqua Dulce broad beans sown now will give you the heaviest crop and because they will have finished cropping earlier than peas this will give you extra time for a crop of something else which you can sow in very early summer next year. A good example is a cabbage called Duncan.
JOBS FOR THE WEEK AHEAD.
•As there is less foliage in the garden there appear to be more cats. Buy a pot of garlic paste and dip six-inch-long sticks into it so three inches of paste is on the top of the sticks. Push the sticks into the ground. Cats hate the smell of garlic.
•If you can’t be bothered to clean the pond (the best time is when all leaves have fallen) skim off the leaves with a fishing net and remove the water pump. Scrub it and put it in a dry shed all winter. If ponds are cleaned now, the water is not too cold, there’s less shock for fish and no frogspawn to worry about. Get rid of duckweed too.
•Now’s the time to transplant trees and shrubs. You’d be surprised how many letters I get asking if it’s too late in June! Choose a nice day. Don’t be pushed into trying to do it when the weather is unsuitable.
•If fencing posts have to be renewed, look at Metpost fixings. They make the job a lot easier. Postmix is easy to use too. Dig the hole, put in the post and pour in the dry mix. Soak the ends of the posts in creosote substitute overnight. There’s nothing wrong with creosote substitute by the way. It’s good as well as cheap.
•Check there are no rotten nuts in bird feeders. Rotten nuts kill blue tits. Please put water out for the birds.
•Plant seeds of early peas in cells in the cold greenhouse, only two per cell, using the 24 cells which fit a standard seed tray. No heat needed, just make sure they are in a place where mice can’t get them. Keep them on the dry side otherwise they will rot. Just be careful not to give them too much water.
•Save up for a soil-warming cable for the greenhouse or buy one as a present for the gardener in your life for Christmas.
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