... and deals with worms who are ruining a lawn
Q: Last year my main crop peas were good, but plants at one end of the row were not. I found red lines through the stems. I have looked in my gardening books but there is no reference to it. Over to you Brian. NV, Rowlands Castle.
A: This is Fusarium wilt disease. It’s not common in a pea crop but is caused by waterlogging. It can be prevented. Grow the peas in a different place this year and fork in plenty of sharp sand when planting the seeds.
Q: I love everlasting sweet peas and have three colours. One of the best is in the wrong place. When would be a good time to move it? LFP, Clanfield.
A: Best wait a few weeks because the ground is too wet. Get the job done before the end of February.
Q: My daffodils bloomed just after Christmas. Will they do it again this spring? VS, North End.
A: No, but there will be others which didn’t flower out of season.
Q: How can I rid my lawn of worms? I don’t want to harm them but they’re spoiling the grass. AF, Funtley.
A: This works if you have a border by the lawn. Be patient. Worms need a couple of months to move on. Get a large paint tin with a handle. Take 1lb of sulphate of iron to 7lb of dry potting sand. Mix with gloved hands. Put strings across the lawn a yard apart so the iron is applied evenly. Make holes in the paint tin’s base with a 5in nail. Pour in some mixture. Apply evenly. Don’t walk on treated areas. Worms don’t like the iron and will move into the border without being harmed.
JOBS FOR THE COMING WEEK
The soil is very wet but exhibitors will need to sow parsnip seeds soon. Fork over the soil which should have been dug deeply in the autumn, but NOT manured. Once dug over, cover the rows with cloches to allow the surface to dry. This will also warm the soil a little, ready to sow parsnips at the end of this month. It is essential to buy fresh seed as last year’s will not germinate well.
Parsnip seeds may be pre-germinated in a jam jar in damp vermiculite. As soon as the roots emerge, sow them into the open ground which has been warmed as suggested above.
If you are planning to sow a few seeds in the greenhouse, ensure the propagator is turned on for 24 hours before sowing seeds. Remember too, part of the greenhouse can be kept warmer by using polythene bubble plastic to divide the greenhouse.
If you need to move shrubs, trees or roses, remember there are only six weeks left to do this. You would be surprised at how many letters I get asking if shrubs can be moved when the leaves are opening.
Leave planks of wood on the soil once dug and turn the wood over once a week and squash the slugs which love to hide beneath. This will reduce slug damage problem considerably. In small gardens, use upturned half-grapefruit skins. Inspect these daily and kill the slugs.
Are your secateurs really sharp? It might be a good idea to put that garden centre token towards a new pair.
Have you thought how useful a soil warming cable could be? Have a look around garden centres and you will see on the box how easy it is to install one.
Does the mower need servicing? There is a three-week wait at the moment, so don’t leave this job until spring. If you are confident the mower is OK, start it up once a month so that none of the parts seize up in the damp. Start up the rotovator too, it ensures it will start easily when needed in spring.
If it’s windy when digging, always work with your face to the wind. This prevents bad backs.
Got a question for Brian? E-mail him by clicking here.