Gardeners’ question time with Brian Kidd, Dec 23

Now is the perfect time to plant shallots.
Now is the perfect time to plant shallots.
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Our horticultural hotshot solves readers’ problems.

Q: Is it correct to plant shallots on the shortest day? I ask as I’ve just got a long-awaited allotment and haven’t been able to dig it because of the rain. BM, Fareham.

A:  No, it isn’t too late. Any time between now and the end of February will be OK. I always recommend the shortest day simply to help readers keep that job and date in mind.

Q: Can you tell me how to prune a three-year-old apple tree? It is a patio tree, 5ft high. We had 14 apples last summer and they tasted wonderful. The variety is Sunset. LG, Paulsgrove.

A: Use sharp secateurs and take off one third from the main stem. You will see side shoots all the way down the trunk. The little branches near the top will be short. Cut these back to half their length. As you look further down you will see there are several thicker side shoots on these branches. Cut the thin shoots by half their length.

Q: At our local market we saw bunches of wallflowers called Persian Carpet. I asked what colour they were and the trader told me they were mixed. Can you give me some more information please? F and P, Waterlooville.

A: This variety flowers in spring, is bushy and between 12in and 15in high. It is lovely because of the mixed range of perfumed pastel colours the colours of which you can see in a genuine Persian carpet. They should be planted now. Allow 8in between each plant and you’ll end up with a carpet of colour. Yellow tulips planted between will guarantee a good spring show of colour.

Got a question for Brian? Click here and fire away.