Gardeners’ question time with Brian Kidd

A cucumber plant with bronze leaves caused by an attack of red spider mite.
A cucumber plant with bronze leaves caused by an attack of red spider mite.
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Our perennial favourite answers your letters and e-mails.

Q: I have a beautiful yellow climbing rose but it is old and there is a lot of dead wood. How can I improve it? JH, Leigh Park

A: Get some help to prune out the dead wood which can be done now. After pruning buy a bag of manure and after forking over the soil lightly give

the soil a really good drench. Apply a thick layer of manure to a depth of five inches and water again. You will be amazed at the result.

Q: Can you tell me why the leaves on my cucumber are going bronze? HV, Denvilles.

A: You need to act quickly. Spray every other day for a week using SB Plant Invigorate to get rid of the red spider mites. They are so small you need a magnifying glass to see them. Give the plants three feeds seven days apart using Maxicrop Complete plant feed to help the plant recover and it should grow rapidly especially in hot weather.

Q: I am very annoyed to see my lovely Brussels sprouts are scorched despite watering them twice a week. Do you think they will recover? DA, Copnor.

A: I am sorry to read about this but am sure I can help you. I quite understand you will not use chemicals. The problem is caused by flea beetle and there are hundreds of them on all allotment sites. Buy some half-sized yellow sticky insect trap cards and tie them on to canes about 12in long and put one cane with the trap next to one in three plants. Pull off just one side and leave the sticky card on the stick and in a couple of days you will see dozens of flea beetles stuck to the card. Every one caught will not be able to attack again and your plants will grow again especially after recent rain.

Q: I bought 10 giant fruiting strawberry plants but only five survived. The firm have told me they will replace the dead ones next spring. I didn’t get any large strawberry fruits, just normal size. Your advice please. CM, Cosham.

A: The firm should have told you that huge fruits are not normally seen until the second year of fruiting and this can be assisted if you feed them regularly once a week starting as soon as you see a good emergence of leaves. Use Maxicrop Complete liquid plant feed.

Stuart Hales, from havant, writes: Just commenting on your runner beans article.

I have been using the same stock for at least 30 years and have not found any deterioration of quality or quantity although there has been some variation because of  the weather. I also practice crop rotation.

A few years ago I built raised beds and went to the stables in Prospect Lane in West Leigh and loaded a couple of builder bags of horse manure into my car. I spread this in the bottom of the raised beds and covered it with topsoil.

In one bed we planted potatoes – they were badly riddled with holes and were inedible. I discovered that horse manure must be well rotted before garden use because of insects living in fresh manure. It all looked old to us but it must have been at the fresher end of the pile.

The next year the potatoes were fine in the adjacent bed. The runner beans were fine.

The leaves on our tomato plants have gone partly brown although we are getting a reasonable crop and there are still flowers. We wonder on the cause of the brown leaves, could it have got too hot in our outhouse.

Brian’s reply: I think you are being successful because of your crop rotation. My article was my way of writing to a number of readers who have had problems.

I would spray your tomatoes when they are in the shade just in case they have blight. You need copper mixture and use the strength recommended for copper deficiency. Thank you for reading The News and happy gardening too!

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