Gardening: Brian Kidd soothes your gardening headaches

Turn these into valuable leaf mould which resembles a fruit cake.
Turn these into valuable leaf mould which resembles a fruit cake.
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This week: from a leaf mould triumph to preserving a ‘pom’

Q: I stopped using peat two years ago. After reading one of your articles I swept up leaves from the street and crammed them in an old bin. Last week I emptied the bin and found six inches of leaf mould in the base. It was like a big cake and made two buckets of leaf mould. HD, Southsea.

A: Thank you Hilda. When I was an apprentice leaf mould was always used in potting composts. It’s better than peat and this process is good for our environment, helping create a better world.

Q: There are little specks on the leaves of my azalea. The problem starts at the tips. MR, Fareham.

A: This is a fungus but is not serious. Any fungicide will clear it up. The leaves indicate the shrub needs feeding. Use Maxicrop for ericaceous plants once now and start again in April. One feed a month but not in September.

Q: I am growing a yellow pom chrysanthemum in a pot in my greenhouse and it has more than 60 button-sized flowers. It has sentimental value as I took it as a cutting from my friend’s wreath (a piece fell off). Will it die in winter? DK, Gosport.

A: It will not die if you follow this advice. When the flowers finally die off, cut the stem right down to four or five inches and keep it in the greenhouse making sure the compost doesn’t become too wet. In early March new shoots will appear and you will be able to take cuttings just like you did in the first place. Poms may be grown outside where they will enhance any border in the autumn. Chrysanthemum plants of all kinds are lovely and should be grown by a lot more gardeners.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

•​​​​​​​ Got a question for Brian? Click here and fire away.