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Name: Geoff Catchpole
Question: Hi Sue, My grand-daughter, 8, gets a 2 metre garden for her birthday this month (other things too!). I bought her Pumpkin Ghost and Swan Gourds as something to try. My allotment mate says gourds and edible pumpkins don't mix as if the gourd pollinates the pumpkin it will be bitter. Is this so?
Answer: Hi Geoff. Yes your friend is correct. To be precise - the problem is that pumpkins and gourds mix a little too well and will happily pollinate one another. The resulting fruits may be inedible as a result. It may be better to grow one this year and save the other for next year. To be honest, if your grand daughter has a 2 metre square plot she will probably only be able to fit one or the other in that area anyway as they do need a bit of space. I hope she enjoys her garden - what a lovely birthday present!
Name: Anna Simon
Question: I have inherited a pond that has not been touched for some years. The water is coffee coloured and nothing appears to be living in it. We have dragged out most of the dead leaves and debris. What should our next step be? Oxygenating plants, a pump? Thanks, Anna.
Answer: Hi Anna. You might be surprised at what is living in there despite the state of the water. Removing the debris is a good start, but remember to always leave it sitting next to the pond overnight to give any creatures a chance to crawl back to the pond before you add it to the compost heap.
Oxygenating weed will be a great start, but I would also definitely use some Pond Wizard in there to help break down the debris and restore the water quality to a more habitable state. I tend to pop some into my own pond each spring and find it very effective. You will probably notice an improvement as Spring progresses, once the plants resume growth and start using up some of the surplus nutrients in the water.
An oxygenating pump may be useful too. It really depends on what you are planning to do with the pond. If you just want to keep your pond for plants and wildlife then there is probably no need to go to the trouble of installing a pump. However, if you would like to introduce fish then a pump would be a great benefit and will help to reduce ongoing maintenance. Best of luck with it Anna.