Questions, answers and jobs for the coming week

Bay tree clipped to a ball.
Bay tree clipped to a ball.
Shoots of golden rod are beginning to show.

GARDENING: Brian Kidd springs back into action after that long, miserable winter

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Brian answers readers’ horticultural questions

I grew runner beans in a growing bag and they grew to the tops of the canes but there are no beans. I used to plant them into the garden and always got a good crop. What has gone wrong? LW, Gosport

The flowers were not pollinated by bees. Cut each plant back to half its height and the new shoots will have flowers. The flowers will set because it is a bit cooler now. Keep the plant well watered. Once you see the blooms put a tablespoon of garden lime in two gallons of water and spray the foliage just as it is getting dark.

Can you tell me the name of this plant which has arrived in my garden? MS, Portchester

Your specimen arrived in perfect condition in dry newspaper. You will be pleased to know it is a bay tree (pictured) and will look great if you keep it as a ball shape by pruning when it is a bit larger.

I seem to have a fungus problem on my orchids and enclose a leaf of dendrobium. I have used two different fungicides without success. Can you advise me please? JS, Fareham

You have an outbreak of scale insect on the backs of the leaves. If you use Provado insecticide on cotton buds on the backs of the leaves this will kill this pest. The sticky mess can also be mopped up using the cotton buds on the sticky substance. Wipe them again the following day. You will see the dead bugs and the sticky substance on the cotton buds on day two.


Plant out spring hearting cabbages in rows two feet apart with the plants only nine inches apart. Every other one can be thinned out over winter to provide fresh greens.

Have you seen the Sternbergia bulbs in packets at garden centres? These gems look like golden crocus but flower in the autumn. There’s still time to find some. Outdoor amaryllis and colchicum bulbs are in at garden centres. These will flower in the autumn.

When digging out potatoes, cut the haulms down to four inches and remove all weeds. This saves a lot of time. Put the haulms in a wheelbarrow, the less they are thrown around the less chance there is of spreading potato blight.

Have a look around to see where you can get manure. Leave it in bags until November when it will be ready to dig in.

Keep a sharp eye out for scorching on the lower leaves of runner bean plants which is due to red spider mite. Spray with liquid Pyrthrum in the late evening. It is essential to spray the backs of the leaves.