Water well and reap some great rewards

For stunning phlox, prevent dry conditions at the roots.
For stunning phlox, prevent dry conditions at the roots.

GARDENING: Readers' questions and a whole host of horticultural jobs from Brian Kidd

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At the allotment there are seven water butts gathering water from my shed and greenhouse and they were full after the winter rains.

This stock has almost gone but a couple of showers saved the day and there has been enough to keep the peas growing well; they have been watered every evening without fail.

This summer has produced the best crop ever because the peas were top dressed with compost.

The ground must be soaked before adding a layer of compost and then watered afterwards.

Autumn fruiting raspberries also need a lot of water when they are in flower.

A quick way to guarantee a good crop is to soak the raspberry bed with water, add a two-inch layer of sieved compost or the contents of growing bags and water again afterwards.

In the flower border it is important to remove dead blooms before seeds ripen.

Cosmos, dahlias and antirrhinums will continue to flower right up until early November – the removal of dead blooms keeps the plants flowering for weeks.

Shortage of water in herbaceous borders causes fungal problems. Did you know that powdery mildew which causes an unsightly white smothering over the leaves of phlox, golden rod and roses is caused by dry conditions at the roots?

Watering the soil by making sure the water is applied to the ground will prevent this problem. Watering with a rose on the can or spray on the end of the hose makes the problem even worse.

I am really pleased so many of you dear friends are growing runner beans

At a meeting I attended, over three-quarters of the audience put their hands up when I asked how many of them grew runner beans.

Is it too late to plant some? No, have a look at your garden centre and you will find some which are all tangled up. Unwind them and plant seven in a growing bag with eight feet-high canes. If you don’t find any plants, buy a packet of dwarf French beans, sow the seeds directly into the soil and keep them well watered.

They will produce French beans just before the cold weather arrives and they don’t need canes.

As predicted, all kinds of begonias are brilliant in beds and containers.

They were good last year too, despite the wet summer. But begonias also adore the sunshine and they don’t have many pests and diseases.

All we have to do is remove the dead flowers on the tuberous ones or regularly pick up the fallen blooms!