Qurstions, answers and jobs for the coming week

Strawberries in a hanging basket
Strawberries in a hanging basket

BRIAN KIDD: The amazing life of plants and how to make them thrive

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Brian answers readers’ horticultural questions

Q: Caterpillars eat the leaves and white centres of our leeks. What can we do to stop this happening again this year, I am writing to you now because you often say it is best to prevent problems. UF, Whiteley.

A: When sowing the seeds in April, cover them immediately with Micromesh netting. When planting the seedlings in July use water piping in hoop shapes and put the micromesh netting over the hoops to form a tunnel over the crop and either earth up the soil to cover the edges of the micromesh or use a wooden edge and pin it to the wood. The moth which lays the eggs which become caterpillars won’t be able to gain access.

Q: There are small patches of grass dying off in our newly-laid lawn and we have noticed a white mould early in the morning but it is gone by mid-morning. What is causing this and how can we cure it? H and L G, Denmead.

A: This is a fungal problem called fusarium. You will find a lawn fungicide at your garden centre. Follow the directions and read the instructions before you buy the product. Take your glasses.

Q: I live in a flat and am wondering if I can grow strawberry plants in a large hangingbasket? GP, Southsea.

A: Yes, buy some potted strawberry plants and plant 10 in a 15in diameter basket using John Innes number 3 compost. Plant three on top and the rest around the sides. Regularly feed them when you see flowers appearing.

JOBS FOR THE WEEK

Remove dead leaves from the base of Christmas rose plants to ensure the plant looks glamorous. Scatter sharp sand around the clump, this will prevent mud splashes spoiling the flowers and foliage and will help keep slugs away.

Try to plant a row of early potatoes, if the soil allows you to do this job. The tubers need a covering of soil six inches deep. Scatter 2oz per yard run of blood fish and bonemeal along the rows and when the tubers are planted, finish by leaving a ridge over the top of the row. Save compost to top dress the plants as they appear. This will ensure you have a crop with smooth skins. To each barrowload of compost, add 1lb of sulphate of potash. Mix it really thoroughly. Potash kills slugs trying to eat the new tubers and adds flavour to the new potatoes.

Where weeds are growing on the soil you dug over, put down a plank and lightly spray the weeds with Weedol 2. If you do this on a sunny day, it will work within three days. Don’t allow this product to drift on plants because it will kill them .

Little fuchsia plants and hanging basket Surfinia petunias are arriving at garden centres. Buy them if you can keep them warm then take cuttings three inches long in a few weeks. This can save a lot of money.

Got a question for Brian? Write to him at features@thenews.co.uk .