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Q What is the nature of wetting agents in compost, designed for patio containers, and why does it not work as well as the granules such as 'Swell Gel'.

MIKE BLISS, Leicester

A Peat is strange stuff. It is light, has great water storage capacity when wet, yet drains excess water well, and is easy for roots to grow into. Hence it's the perfect medium in which to grow plants, just so long as you keep it wet and add fertiliser, as it has no intrinsic nutrition.

But because it's so well-draining it has a habit of drying out quickly, and when dry it's difficult to re-wet it without a really good soak, as the water just runs though the container or pot.

The aim of the wetting agent is to help minimise this problem by reducing surface tension on the peat.


1. Spring cabbage seed should be sown now at a depth of 1-1.5cm in drills 15cm apart. Before sowing, dust the drills with a preparatory fungicide against that bane of all Brassicas, club root.

2. Think about pruning your rambling roses. For those such as Dorothy Perkins'. which flower on the side-shoots of long canes which were produced from the base during the last season's growth, as soon as blooming has finished cut the flowering shoot down to the base. Train the new basal growth that will appear to replace them.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Aug 12, 2007
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