Gardening: Your bank holiday weekend jobs, with Brian Kidd
Our popular gardening expert sets you to work with a list of jobs for the long weekend.
• Buy winter-flowering pansy seed ready to sow in the greenhouse at the end of the month. I know they are in full bloom at the moment but the seeds have to be sown at this time to ensure a good display of flowers this time next year. It is called forward planning.
• Sow seeds of F1 hybrid Brussels sprouts. If you have already planted out early varieties, choose another 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 don’t turn into miniature cabbages like the old-fashioned types.
• Clematis plants are now growing rapidly. Encourage the shoots to grow upwards. Clematis support frames don’t cost a fortune.
• Short rows of lettuce, spring onion and beetroot can be sown. Sow thinly so the hoe can be used between the rows.
• Sow seeds of sweetcorn in the greenhouse. These will be ready to plant out in blocks, 15 inches between plants with 15in between rows, in three weeks.
• Plant out runner bean seedlings but cover them if frost is forecast. Everyone should try to grow runner beans. They are the most nutritious vegetable, everyone loves them especially if grandma cooks them! Plant some in a flower border.
• Plant out leeks now. These popular winter gems are very prone to attacks of leek moth which devastates the foliage and destroys the heart of the crop. Lots of gardeners ask me what has gone wrong with the crop, they have never had this problem before.
The leek moth flies around and lays eggs alongside the seedlings which have just been planted and in the late summer the leaves are chewed badly. The chewing then devastates the long white heart of the crop and the crop is sadly 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 push them into the soil.
Just think, the crop must be covered to prevent the flying moth from laying eggs which hatch as caterpillars which are very difficult to see because they are exactly the same colour as the veins of the leek leaf.
• When planting up a container for summer flowers, pop in two lettuce plants called Salad Bowl. These are bright-looking plants with curly leaves and no one will ever notice you are growing lettuce. When you need some to eat, cut off just what is needed with scissors and within a week or so, the plant will produce more leaves for picking through the summer.