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Facebook Q&A Session 4th May 2012


Thompson & Morgan Facebook Q&A Session 4th May 2012 - Your horticultural questions answered.

Click here to view details of our previous Q&A sessions.

Name: Kay Rogers

Question: Question for Sue please......I have 2 hydrangeas in pots and they had started developing nicely during the warm weather in March - there were signs of flower buds at the end of each stem. Now, the frost has got to them and they have browned. Should I leave the ends of the stems as they are or should I cut them off? Thanks

Answer: That’s a real shame Kay. Unfortunately there is always the risk of losing Hydrangea buds to a late frost. I tend to leave the previous years faded flower heads intact over the winter until the plant starts into active growth the following spring. It looks a little messy but the old flower heads help to provide a little protection against the stem tips being frosted.

Wait until this unseasonable cold spell has passed and then snip off the damaged stem tips. It’s early enough that your plant should still produce a few flowers, but it probably won’t be quite as good a display as in previous years.

Name: Lauren Bevan

Question: Hello, I received my bandit leeks today, can I put them straight into the ground? And do you have any tips for growing them as this is my first time growing leeks x

Answer: Hi Lauren. It’s best to wait until they are about 20cm (8”) tall before transplanting them outdoors at a distance of about 23cm (9”) apart. Using a large, thick dibber, create each planting hole to a depth of 15cm (6”) and lower the leeks into the holes ensuring that they reach the bottom. Fill each hole with water, washing sufficient soil around the plants to ensure that they can establish. This planting method will produce leeks with well blanched stems. It’s a good idea to cover them with a protective netting or fleece after planting to prevent attack from birds and insects.

Once established, your leeks won’t need a lot of attention. Water them during very dry periods and hoe between rows to destroy weeds and bring insect larvae to the surface. Leeks can be harvested from autumn onwards; however they stand well in the ground and can be lifted when required throughout the winter and spring. Lift leeks by levering them out of the ground with a spade or fork. I hope that helps you Lauren.

Name: Jo Moore

Question: Another question please. I want three good bicolour Russell Lupins for my garden but it seems impossible to buy them now. So I am planning to buy a pack of your seed. The problem is I have very little flower bed and will have to grow them to flowering size in pots to select the best. What ultimate size of pot am I likely to need to do this?

Answer: Hi Jo. You will probably need to grow them on to an ultimate pot size of 2 litres. That should give you some nice chunky plants to choose from.

Is there a reason why you particularly original Russell Lupins? George Russell spent many years selecting Lupins for their denser, larger and more colourful flower spikes. As a result of his breeding work, most of today’s modern varieties are descended from Russell Hybrids. Why not considerLupin ‘Tutti Frutti’. It offers a bicolour range of plants with good colours and densely packed heads that can be bought now as plug plants. Lupin ‘The Chatelaine’, and L. ’The Governor’ are both from the original Russell Hybrids series and these can also be bought as plugs. It’s just a thought, but it might save you some time.

Name: Kaz Prescott

Question: I’ve sown petunia seeds in my seed tray, they have started sprouting. I wasn’t expecting so many to sprout... some are very close together, I’m worried about when they get a little bigger will they die because they are so close together? When should I transplant to a pot or another tray so they are not next to each other?

Answer: It sounds as though your seedlings are doing well, Kaz. Don’t worry about them being close together – it won’t kill them. Once they have developed the second set of leaves you can transplant them into their own little pots. Next time, try to sow them a little more thinly and evenly across the surface of the compost as this will certainly make it slightly easier to separate them when you come to prick them out. Take a look at this link for more information about ‘pricking out’ and growing on your seedlings.

Name: Kevin Joseph

Question: My ChempakĀ® Soluble Tomato Food has got wet in this rain so the crystals have also got wet. Would it still be as effective to use in the coming season?

Answer: Hi Kevin. I would definitely invest in a new pack to fertilise my vegetable crops. Apart from the fact that it will clump together and become difficult to measure out properly, there is also a likelihood that the active ingredients will have been damaged or lost if the fertiliser has become very wet. Don’t throw it out though – you can use it up on any trees, shrubs and perennials that could do with a boost. This is a common problem with fertilisers, so it is always a good idea to decant them into a clean dry plastic container with a tightly fitting lid as soon as you open the pack. I find an old plastic milk carton quite useful for this purpose, although you will need a funnel to help pour the fertiliser into it. Hope that helps Kevin.

Name: Dawna O'blivion

Question: Hi, I am looking for advice on fertilizers...I am relatively new at growing veg and last year I used tomorite, thinking that it wasn’t organic I wanted to change up...but I see it is present on this page of organic products so it is indeed organic? What else might be helpful? I've got a seaweed fertilizer for foliar use and I also have blood fish & bone meal, will it be beneficial to plant out mixing in the blood fish and bone meal, use the seaweed foliar spray weekly, and tomorite bi-weekly, or is that way too much? (I'm growing tomato, cucumber, and courgettes, all in rhizo-pots, not in the ground, will be planting out if weather holds next week) thanks in advance for any light you can shed because googling it has not in 2 years enlightened me much.

Answer: Hi Dawna. Whilst I cannot comment on the information that you find on other companies websites, it’s worth noting that Levington (who brand and sell Tomorite) do not advertise this as an organic feed. If you want to be sure that you are using an organic fertiliser then try Vitax Organic Tomato, Chilli and Pepper fertiliser once a week.

However, as you already have some blood, fish and bone I would suggest that you use this when you plant your tomatoes out and then simply use your seaweed fertiliser once a week throughout the season. Seaweed contains plenty of potassium and trace elements, which will help to produce good crops. You might like to consider creating a Comfrey bed in an unused corner of your garden for future years as this also makes a useful organic fertiliser.

Name: Kaz Prescott

Question: I cut back my "bleeding heart" every year and this year it’s growing out of control.... can I prune my bleeding heart?? It’s taking over my garden....

Answer: It’s sounds as though you are having fantastic success with your Dicentra (bleeding heart) – more success than I had on my light, sandy soil. Dicentra is a clump forming perennial and can seed freely if it is happy in your garden. There are a few ways to tackle this. Firstly, dig up and remove any of last year’s seedlings if they are unwanted or poorly placed. Secondly, you can deadhead any faded flower stems before they produce seed – this will prevent them from seeding everywhere again this year. Finally, if you have some large clumps of Bleeding Heart that are getting too big, then lift them this autumn and divide the clumps, discarding the oldest parts and replanting the youngest. That should certainly get the plant back under your control, Kaz.