BRIAN KIDD: What on earth is that on my grandson's apple tree?

Our gardening expert answers your horticultural queries and sets you a to-do list for the coming week

Saturday, 20th May 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:41 pm
Bidens aurea - great for hanging baskets.

Q: Can you tell me what the growths on my grandson’s apple tree are? It’s covered with fluffy green lumps. JM, Wymering.

A: When I opened your letter I thought I was looking at pussy willow open flowers which would indicate your grandson’s tree is a willow. If, however, the tree is an apple and it has fruits the problem is lichen which can be controlled by spraying the tree with organic winter wash in December. Do not spray until then as the spray will damage the leaves.

Q: Can you tell me the name of these seedlings growing in a crevice in my greenhouse? LT Bosham.

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A: They are bidens aurea, a great plant for hanging baskets.

Q: My forsythia has a stem which is about three inches across and instead of being round it is flat. Is this a serious problem? HD, North End,

A: This is not a serious problem. Simply cut this branch off. The phenomenon is called fasciation and is usually caused by biting insects like spider mites.

Q: My polyanthus have been wonderful and produced lots of seeds. When should I sow them and will the seedlings flower next spring? KS, Emsworth.

A: Very pleased they grew so well. Sow the seeds now but don’t cover them with compost. Vermiculite, just a thin covering, is best and the seedlings will grow well in the shade and will flower next spring.


• This is the most exciting time. Wall baskets, hanging baskets and window boxes can be planted. If it’s windy, wait until it passes. We all know what it is like to suffer from wind...

n If stems on potatoes look a bit thin, the crop will not be good. Thick haulms indicate a good crop. Scatter sulphate of ammonia along the rows, 2oz per yard run, and hoe into the soil. Then earth-up the haulms again and give the plants a good water. This will increase the yield.

• Did you prune your forsythia? Use strong secateurs and remove all the wood which had flowers. If this looks a daunting job, pull out one branch at a time, look for side shoots close to the ground and cut back to where the side shoots can be seen. Pull back the next branch and do the same, The sprays of prunings can be used to support perennial plants.

• Keep the hoe going and pick up all the weeds and put them in the compost bin. If left on top of the soil, it will cause Murphy’s law to strike...

• Blackcurrants like nitrogen at this time of year. Give them a dressing of sulphate of ammonia using 2oz per square yard and fork this into the surface of the soil. If you like to be organic, then top dress the plants with well-made compost, but water the soil before and after the application.

• Tie in shoots of blackberry and try to stop the tips rooting in the soil. If they insist on going down towards the soil, cut off the tips.

• Potato and tomato blight will be here soon and this year we will be PREVENTING the problem – won’t we?! Buy copper mixtur. You will find this in drums at your garden centre. One heaped tablespoon in a gallon of water, but spray when the sun is not out.

• Plant out runner beans. Even if you don’t have a veg plot, just think, I must have some runner beans. They look wonderful in a flower border or in growing bags – just use a little bit of imagination. Runner beans in July – won’t be long now!

Got a question for Brian? Click here to fire away.