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Name: Sue Bracewell
Question: Why are the flowers on my 'Fragrantissima' sweet peas on very short stems (only about 3 inches)?
Answer: Hi Sue, unfortunately as the season progresses, sweet peas tend to produce shorter stems, with energy concentrated on flowering and setting seed before the season comes to an end. I find I get the longest stems while my plants are healthy and fresh in June. At this stage temperatures are still relatively cool, the plants have been well-watered, fed and are free of diseases such as powdery mildew. By July we’re entering the hottest part of the year and sweet peas will start to struggle with the heat, especially if there is drought stress on top. Diseases become more widespread at this time as well. The best thing you can do to maintain your sweet peas is to water regularly, early in the morning (night watering can encourage fungal diseases), feed them if the soil is poor or you’re growing them in containers and pick the flowers regularly. As soon as the plant is allowed to form seed pods it can very quickly deteriorate. I hope this helps Sue, best of luck.
Name: Jen Reynolds
Question: Hello, I have just dug up my first ever crop of garlic. On most of the stems there are tiny bulbs growing. Are these for planting on, like onion sets? If they are when should I plant them?
Answer: Hi Jen, garlic bulbils can be produced by the flower heads, once blooming has finished, or more rarely they can be produced lower down on the stem itself. Either way these clones will be exact copies of the parent plant and can be grown on to produce more garlic! If your garlic was suffering any kind of disease then we wouldn’t advise using the bulbils as the disease could be carried over to the next crop. Most bulbils will also take a few years to reach harvestable size so it will require some patience to grow them this way. If the bulbils are very tiny, simply draw out a seed drill now, about 1" (2.5cm) deep, and sprinkle the bulbils thinly inside. Cover over with soil and water well. Any larger bulbils can be placed in by hand with the basal plate facing down as you would when planting normal garlic cloves. Don’t try and dry out the bulbils as they are too small to survive drying at this stage. Next year, harvest the bulbils from the ground as the foliage yellows and dry them as you would normal garlic. They can then be re-planted later in the autumn for a full crop the next year. I hope this helps Jen, good luck.
Name: Gardening Corners
Question: Hi Sue, I have Lupin 'Band of Noble Mix' and want to get first years flower because it will not tolerate Indian summers. When do I sow seeds in order to get flowers in April? (It’s late spring in India) Thanks.
Answer: Hello, Lupin 'Band of Nobles Mixed' normally flower best after a year or two of growth so I’m not sure how well they will do with such a short growing season. If you did try this variety I would sow as soon as possible in the autumn once temperatures have cooled. You can plant them out as soon as they are well grown, although if temperatures are cool, acclimatise them well before planting outside. It might be better for you to try the annual Lupins such as 'Sunrise' or 'Dwarf Fairy Pink' which could be started off indoors in December or January for spring flowering, provided light levels are good. Depending on your climate it may be possible to sow these seeds in the autumn and over winter the plants. It might be a bit of an experiment so best of luck! I hope this helps.