BRIAN KIDD: Tips on clematis and jobs for the weekend

Our gardening expert dips into his inbox to solve your horticultural problems

Friday, 12th May 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 12th May 2017, 2:32 pm
Evergreen clematis armandii

Q: My evergreen clematis, which is in a pot, has just finished flowering, but the bottom leaves are yellow. HC, Hambledon.

A: This is a good time to plant it into a larger container. Clematis of all kinds thrive on regular feeding. In addition to the repotting water the pot with Maxicrop for Tomatoes once a month from April until September every year. No food in winter.

Q: My dahlia cuttings are magnificent. I’m so pleased I read your article about how to get the cuttings to root. When can I plant them in my garden? KB, Horndean.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

A: Plant them out after May 21, but if it is windy, wait until it dies down. Cold winds cause the foliage to wilt or become scorched. Your question will help a lot of other readers. I am very pleased you enjoyed the article you mentioned.

Q:Is it true beetroot leaves are edible? My friend told me they are good in salads. I grow several rows because we all love the roots. AG, Cosham.

A: Beetroot leaves are edible but they are best when the leaves are small and you will often see them in bags of mixed leaves.

Q: We have moved to Cowplain and have inherited a really nice garden which is one of the reasons we bought the property. In one area there is an old path which we don’t want. I am too old to dig the path out. I am thinking of buying a log roll to keep the soil in place in order to cover this path, but how deep will the soil have to be to grow salads?

A: Six inches of soil will be OK but I would suggest you use potting compost. It is about the same price as bags of topsoil and the crops will be very good.


• Plant out leeks now. They are prone to attacks of leek moth which hits the foliage and destroys the heart of the crop. The leek moth lays eggs alongside the newly-planted seedlings and in late summer the leaves are chewed badly. This devastates the long white heart of the veg and the crop is ruined.

Beat this pest by covering the seed sowing with insect barrier netting and as soon as the young plants are set out in rows, cover the plants with insect barrier netting suspended on plastic water piping .

Put wooden dowels in the ends of the piping to make it easier to be pushed into the soil. The crop must be covered to prevent the flying moth from laying eggs which hatch as caterpillars and are difficult to see because they are exactly the same colour as the veins of the leek leaf.

• Slugs are now very active. Go into the garden early in the morning, pick them off and give them a quick size eight on smooth paving.

• Sow seeds of F1 hybrid Brussels sprouts. If you have already planted out early varieties, choose another one which will produce sprouts from January to March. The seeds are quite small. Sow single seeds into insert cells. The size needed is 24 cells to a standard seed tray. F1 hybrid seeds are expensive but the sprouts are well-behaved and they don’t turn into miniature cabbages like the old-fashioned types.

• Clematis plants are now growing rapidly. Encourage the shoots to grow up. Clematis support frames don’t cost a fortune. Give them a good soaking of Maxicrop liquid fertiliser, two gallons appled slowly. The flowers will be wonderful and this fertiliser will encourage flowers later this year.

• Short rows of lettuce, spring onions and beetroot can be sown. Sow thinly so a hoe can be used between the rows.

• Sow seeds of sweetcorn in the greenhouse. These will be ready to plant out in blocks 15in between plants with 15in between rows in three weeks’ time.

• Plant out runner bean seedlings but cover them if frosts are forecast. Everyone should try to grow runner beans. They are the most nutritious vegetable and everyone loves them especially if grandma cooks them! Plant some in a flower border. Bear in mind you can grow runner beans in a growing bag even if you live in a flat. Support them with eight-feet-long canes. Put the bag on it’s side, not flat.

Got a question for Brian? Click here to ask it.