Gardening: Q & A.
THIS week's star letter comes from Melany Blunt, of Shalwell, Newcastle, who wins pounds 20 worth of National Garden Gift Vouchers. She writes: The leaves of my spider plant are pale and sickly and some are joined with a fine web. What's the problem?
ADRIENNE SAYS: It's playing host to red spider mite, which feeds on the sap of indoor plants. If left to breed they will spin webs and wreck the plant. A systemic insecticide which gets into the sap is one solution. Another is to introduce the parasite Phytoseiulus persimilis.
HOW do I cut a dead branch off a tree without causing damage? - Chris Turner, Surbiton, Surrey
ADRIENNE SAYS: Only prune branches that you can reach from the ground with a pruning saw - otherwise call in experts. Always make your first cut about 1ft from the trunk to prevent tearing. Saw off close to the trunk but not flush, making an upward part-cut to prevent it ripping off. Treat with wound sealant.
HOW much work is involved in growing fruit?- Peter Walsh, Loughborough, Leics.
ADRIENNE SAYS: January, February and March are taken up with planting and feeding, April and May with frost protection and using a spray or biological controls. From July onwards, crops should be ready to harvest and at the end of the year annual pruning will take a few hours. I'm sure you'll enjoy every moment of it though.