Brian answers readers’ horticultural questions
Q: I planted out my runner bean plants and lots of leaves are white. Have I done something wrong? JF, Rowlands Castle.
A: It’s because the plants had been in a greenhouse. They should have been left outside in a sheltered place for three or four days before planting. The strong winds made things worse but they will be OK in a couple of weeks.
Q: We have a bad problem with sciarid fly. I didn’t know what it was but the RHS told me it’s the name of hundreds of tiny almost invisible worms which eat plant roots in the greenhouse. Is there a chemical cure? G and PH, East Meon.
A: An electric Sulfume unit will eradicate this pest, but it will take three months and cost £100. It will also control red spider mite and fungal problems in greenhouses.
Q: I am fed up netting everything at my allotment because of pigeons who eat everything except weeds. LG, Longmeadow, Portsmouth.
A: Use an 8ft cane and make a cardboard Kestrel. Fix the bird on a wire in the top of the cane and move it around your plot. I share your concern and have bought one.
Q: My compost is a failure. G L, Copnor.
A: Dig a trench and bury the rubbish. It will rot quickly. Dig the area where you will try again but instead of chucking rubbish into the bin, use a bucket and put the waste into it, cutting up the large pieces. Use a compost activator each time you empty the bucket. I use one part urine to seven parts water, sprinkled not poured.
JOBS FOR THE COMING WEEK
Stop cutting asparagus. The stem now needs to grow so the ferny leaves can send down nutrients to the roots. This encourages next year’s crop. Give the plants a feed of blood, fish and bonemeal. Fork into the soil and water afterwards.
Sow seeds of calceolaria pot plants in the greenhouse. This is a job often forgotten. The beautiful balloon-like flowers will bloom next spring in a frost free greenhouse.
Enjoy eating strawberries from the garden but get into the habit of taking a bucket with you for weeds. Strawberries quickly become smothered in weeds.
Keep removing side shoots on the tomatoes and do it regularly. If the bunches of fruit are heavy, use twist ties to support the trusses on the tomato canes.
Spray outdoor tomatoes and potatoes with copper fungicide to PREVENT blight. I get my leg pulled about this because I warn of blight so often, but at least you are reading these articles!
Start thinning grapes. Wear a hat so your hair does not touch the fruit. Hair spoils the ‘bloom’ on the fruit’s skin.
Spray fruit tree foliage with plain water in the late evening to PREVENT red spider mite.
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