Your seasonal dilemmas.. SORTED! Gardening.
From aphid-ridden apple trees to soggy seedlings, Pippa solves the problems blighting your garden this spring...
Can I grow a rose in a pot?
PIPPA SAYS: Yes, you can, but looking after it will definitely be much more effort than if it were growing in open ground! Use as large a pot as possible, ideally something like a half-barrel, and use a loam-based compost with added grit such as John Innes number 3, plus some horticultural grit.
Can I sow peas now or is it too late?
PIPPA SAYS: It's certainly worth sowing some now. If the soil is still a bit wet and cold, sow the seeds in cells, roottrainer pots or small flower pots and then transplant when the plants are three or four inches tall. Get some twiggy sticks into the soil when you sow the seed or plant the young peas out so they can act as supports as the peas grow.
I've just noticed that my apple tree has several areas where the branches are bobbly and swollen, but they seem to be coming into leaf okay. What is this?
PIPPA SAYS: It sounds as if it's been hit by woolly aphid. This sapsucking pest causes stems to swell and distort as it feeds and apple canker disease can get in via the wounded bark. Prune out the worst affected areas and consider spraying with a suitable insecticide.
Some of my seedlings have suddenly flopped over and died. Why?
PIPPA SAYS: The most likely cause is damping off disease. This is caused by fungi, which are often introduced via unclean compost, trays or pots, or from non-mains water. Sadly, there's no way you'll be able to resurrect the seedlings but do check on your gardening hygiene. It's also worth watering seedlings with a dilute copper fungicide as this can help prevent the infection getting a hold in the first place.
Beleaguered by ivy
There's ivy growing up through my well-established hornbeam hedge. Is it harmful?
PIPPA SAYS: I'd be inclined to try to remove it. Although I'm sure it won't kill the hedging plants, it can start to swamp them and may lead to a degree of gappiness in the foliage. Dig out the ivy at the base or sever the stem and pull off the dead ivy plants once they've turned brown.
The winter has left my lawn riddled with moss. What can I do?
PIPPA SAYS: First try to alleviate any compacted areas by driving a fork deeply into the lawn at intervals. Then use a proprietary moss killer and rake out the moss once it's dead. Don't do this too early or you'll end up spreading the moss. If areas are very thin, you could roughen up the surface and re-seed.
Is it true that it's not a good idea to cut an established hedge at this time of year and if so, why?
PIPPA SAYS: The hedge itself wouldn't mind, but you could easily cause tragedy as far as wild birds are concerned. You could get into trouble too - the bird-nesting season has officially started and it's illegal to do anything that might disturb nesting birds!
I want to grow my own blueberry bush, but my dad says one won't be enough to get fruit. Is he right?
PIPPA SAYS: It's a great time to get a blueberry bush, but your dad's quite correct. You do tend to get a much better fruit set with two or more plants as they can be pollinated by each other. It's also worth remembering they need a moist, acidic soil to crop well. If your soil doesn't fit the bill, you could try growing them in large pots full of a suitable compost (this is sold as ericaceous compost in garden centres).
Do it now!
Grab a hoe and get weeding before your garden gets over-run with invaders. Fast developers like the hairy bittercress are even starting to set seed!
Get them up and out or simply behead them and you'll save a lot of time and effort later on. If they haven't started to set seed, they can go into your compost bin. Make sure weeds with fleshy roots, such as dandelions and docks, aren't composted as they may not be dead.
Daffodils are marvellous right now.
Whether you choose pure golden forms, whites, oranges, salmons or a variety with more than one shade, they all offer a great way to introduce a cheery splash of colour at this time of year. Try them in flowerbeds, pots and other containers or even use one of the miniature forms in a hanging basket.
PIPPA GREENWOOD has presented her own series, Growing Science, on Radio 4 for three years and is a regular panellist on the station's Gardeners' Question Time. She's also written many books including Pippa Greenwood's Gardening Year (Headline, pounds 16.99).
Send your questions, comments and tips to Pippa at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Your Life, Daily Mirror, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AP.