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Q&A - Question & Answer about gardening

Gareth Richards - Q&A Gardening-w850Q: Clare Madderson – Hi Spalding me again. I have 15 pots in my front garden, a lot are covered in moss etc, would it be best to put fresh soil in each of them to start again, and also the bulbs that are in there i.e snowdrops etc, can I just transfer them to the new soil? Thank you.

 Hi Clare, yes, it’s generally best to use fresh compost in your pots every year. If the pot is big or the plants are permanent ones (such as trees and shrubs that live in the same pot from year to year), then it’s a good idea to top-dress in the spring. This means scraping away the top few inches of compost and replacing with fresh compost.

Q: Denis Morton –  What’s the best way to germinate kiwi seeds?

Hi Dennis – Kiwis generally germinate pretty easily. Scrape the seeds out of the flesh with a knife on to some kitchen roll. Fold it over and gently rub to separate the seeds from any remaining fruit pulp. Allow the paper to dry. Then the seeds will be easy to remove. Sow them in a pot of multipurpose compost on a warm windowsill (a heated propagator is ideal if you have one). Sow the seed at its own depth, ie just put a very light sprinking of compost or vermiculite over them. They should grow away no problem. 

I grew kiwis this way and got so many seedlings I couldn’t give them all away. But bear in mind that if you want to get fruit from your plant, you’re much better off buying a plant of a named variety such as ‘Jenny’.

Q: Louise Johnsen – What’s the best way to get nutrients into the soil on my allotment – some say manure others say not?

Well rotted manure is great if you can get hold of it – it’s really rich in nutrients and does wonders for the structure of your soil. Just be sure it is well rotted before you dig it in. If it smells like a farmyard it’s too fresh plant into. When it’s well-rotted it should smell like any other soil or compost. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with good old garden compost and organic fertilisers such as fish, blood and bone.

Q: Gillian Butcher –  My orchid has sent out a side shoot not sure whether it’s a new root or a stem as it’s just below the leaves ?

Hiya Gillian, I’m imaging you have a Phalaenopsis, a moth orchid. New roots and stems both come out from between the leaves – if it’s dark purplish-green in colour then it’s likely to be a flower stem. If it’s greenish then more likely to be a root. The roots on these orchids are what’s known as aerial roots, so they may not head straight down into the compost like most ‘normal’ roots.

Q: Peggy Sue Langdown – Thinking ahead slightly what medium would you recommend to repot Hostas and also what would you use for houseplants?

Hello Peggy Sue, hostas are best in a soil-based compost such as John Innes Number 3 – they appreciate the extra nutrients it gives. Houseplants are generally OK in multipurpose compost, except for orchids, azaleas and cacti, which need their own special mixes (these are sold by most garden centres and DIY stores).

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