Questions, answers and jobs for the coming week

Dahlias - one of the boldest plants you can grow .

GARDENING: Brian Kidd is planning for summer with dahlias

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Brian answers readers’ horticultural questions

I enclose leaves from my Victoria plum tree which has never bloomed or fruited. Advice please. KPT, Gosport.

It has plum rust and it’s too late to do anything at the moment. To encourage flowers and fruit, bend and tie the tips of the tree so the tips droop. At the end of this month feed using sulphate of potash at half an ounce per square yard over the soil and water in. To prevent the rust, spray the undersides of the foliage with Bordeaux mixture once a month starting as soon as the leaves are fully grown next May.

I have just started to cultivate an allotment and have done much digging. But after two weeks the dug ground is smothered in weeds. PH, Waterlooville.

On soil which has no crops spray the weeds with Roundup but add a sachet of Weedol 2. Spray the weeds and they will be scorched in about four days. The Weedol kills the weeds quickly and the Roundup kills the roots of the perennial weeds. Thistles of all types are very widespread this year. This formula does the trick.

I can’t grow onions. They usually go to seed or rot. I love them and want to grow them. I only have a raised bed four feet wide and 10 feet long. GL, Gosport.

Don’t waste your time growing onions. Plant shallots (pictured) on the shortest day and they will be ready to dig out on the longest day next year. They are trouble-free and the flavour from two shallots is more then you get from a huge onion.

We enjoy growing our own lettuce and would like to know if there are types which can be grown in the greenhouse which we can eat during the winter? FR, Widley.

Yes and the seeds can be sown now. A very good variety is Winter Imperial by Kings seeds. Sow a few seeds now and once again in a month’s time. Another sowing is made in February. Cos lettuce are not suitable in a greenhouse.


Don’t let leaf fall spoil your lawn. The best way to pick up a light leaf covering is to mow the grass. The leafy bits help the grass compost.

With a bit of luck, this is the last time we shall have to cut hedges. Get it done and off the to-do list.

Get some digging done on the allotment. Remove weeds and leave the soil in clods to weather. Incorporate manure for potatoes, peas and beans. If you are on clay, scatter over potting grit to a depth of an inch or two.

Buy alpine plants for a cold empty greenhouse. They won’t mind a few missing side glass panes. A good way to enjoy the greenhouse in winter.

Have you struggled all summer with a bad mower? It won’t be long before the DIY shops will have clearance offers. You can’t take your money with you, spend it and enjoy it.

Plant out Brompton stocks about eight inches apart. These bloom between spring and early summer when there is very little else in flower and they are perfumed too.

Plant a camellia. These accommodating plants start to flower in late winter. Choose one with plump terminal buds, these are the flower buds. Plant somewhere so thhe morning sun won’t damage the blooms in frosty weather. A good container plant too. Use an ericaceous mix.

Plant tubers of the autumn flowering cyclamen, Cyclamen hederaefolium. These are often seen loose in boxes at garden centres. They enjoy light shade. Simply plant the tuber half its depth in moistened soil. They will come into flower in a couple of weeks.