Ashdon Gardening Club

Welcome to Ashdon Gardening Club Questions and Answers page

The questions raised here have been put to us by our members and contain a mixture of answers from other members at the meetings and advice located in other sources. Please feel free to contact us if you have any further information that can help.

Questions raised at the September 2010 meeting:

Q: Do walnut trees need a mate to produce fruit?

A: Apparently it will depend on the tree purchased since some do not need a mate.

Q: A member had made some compost and it was very well rotted. Did anything need to be added to it?

A: No. It should have everything it needs already.

Q: One member's courgettes had masses of leaves and flowers but not much fruit. What caused this?

A: It was established that the courgettes had been fed chicken pellets which may contain high doses of nitrogen and may therefore be the possible cause.

Q: How do you get rid of dandelions in the lawn?

A: A spoonful of salt in the very centre.

Queries raised at previous meetings:

Q: I planted an eating grape vine this year. Will it fruit next year?

A: Only if grafted, otherwise it may take several years.

Q: Show I remove helibore leaves now?

A: Remove all of them so that the flowers can be seen.

Q: When should fruit tree twigs be cut back?

A: It is best to cut them before January during the dormant season. Shape plum trees by removing upward branches and prune apples so that fruit can be reached easily.

Q: My potentillia is very messy looking. How far should I cut it back?

A: Shape it during mid winter or early spring.

Q: I have planted a peach from seed. When will it fruit?

A: Rather than let it grow too vigorously train it into a shape so that there will be more fruit. It may possibly not fruit for 10 years.

Q: Small animals seemed to be a problem for a number of members. One wondered how to deal with rabbits, apart from using a shotgun. Another member had lost her beetroot to small creatures that other members thought were probably mice.

A: There seemed to be few answers, but it was suggested that traps should be rabbits which should then be taken on a long car journey and freed many miles from the garden.

Q: Is asparagus frost hardy? It has always been kept under glass in the past.

A: There is no problem about planting it out now.

Q: I have installed raised vegetable beds and intended carrying out crop rotation but have been advised that only one bed should be used for onions. Is this a good idea?

A: Yes, but treat with fungicide. The minimum depth of the bed should be 6 inches but ensure that the drainage is good. It is essential to carry out good hygiene on the bed.

Q: Is it too late to put onion seeds in (February)?

A: No.

Q: How soon can I plant out sweet peas?

A: Now, unless the ground is soggy and wet.

Q: I have a quince tree which is in its 3rd summer. It is tall but it has not produced fruit and the leaves go brown and crinkle up every year. It is in an exposed position with good ventilation. I have fed with potash and chicken manure. I have used copper oxide to try to cure the problem.

A: The problem sounds more like scab than rust. Other problems may be too much fertilizer use. Alternatively it may be suffering from frost damage but possibly waterlogging is the real problem as the garden is situated on clay.

Q: My indoor orchids have small insects on them which are similar to wood lice and there is a powdery mildew on the leaves. Are the bugs causing the mildew and how can I get rid of both?

A: The RHS provide a very full answer. The insects may be scale insects which look like small, brown limpets or flat, white insects, or they could be mealy bugs. They should be wiped off or sprayed with Provado Ultimate Bug Killer aerosol. Other advice includes weekly sponging of leaves and checking for insects under dried-up leaves and at the base of old flower stalks after they have been cut back. This sponging should help with the mildew.

Q: Does anyone have any suggestions for drying out a wet clay based flower bed?

A: A number of suggestions were made by members of the Club. Although digging in pea shingle would help it was felt that a layer of gypsum, put on top using gloves would help to break up the clay.

Q: One of the members had just converted a vegetable garden into a 9 inch raised bed. Did anyone have a favourite mulch?

A: It was agreed that animal manure would be too acid around seedlings and that any mulch or compost should be incorporated into the existing soil whilst retaining the old soil as a top layer to encourage growth.

Q: What is the best way to prune a very old hardwood Verbena?

A: Slowly cut it back to about 12 inches and once you are sure that is all right, cut back the rest. If the first pruning fails there is still sufficient left for its survival.

Q: The leaves of a a Mandevilla that is kept in a conversatory have turned yellow and are dropping off.

A: It needs feeding with potash.

Q: Some of the leaves are curling of a small Camelia which has a lot of buds and is kept in a generous pot.

A: The plant is likely to be very wet because of the high rainfall last year. Consequently the iron and minerals will have leeched out of the soil, which is a problem of all acidic plants. The solution is to add iron sulphate which can be bought in commercial form.

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Last updated 23/09/2010.