Guy Barter on mice, manure, ash and growbags
This is RHS expert Guy Barter's last answers to your problems - thanks Guy! From next week Ben Raskin of the Soil Association will be taking over, so if you've got any questions, especially about organic growing, send them in using the Q&A form.
Here's Guy's answers to your questions:
Nodiga asks: My larger seeds have been dug up and eaten three times by mice. I caught five in a humane trap and took them away and it stopped for a week. Now they are back. I have trays indoors but as soon as I put them back the seedlings are eaten. What can I do?
Answer: Catching five mice in a humane trap is impressive as these traps are not very efficient...
...but unfortunately is likely to indicate a very high local mouse population. I suggest raising plants indoors and putting them out when they are several inches tall when they will be less attractive to rodents.
Mice can be huge problem, and if anyone has any suggestions on getting rid of them, please do tell us by leaving a comment below.
Jane Stanton asks: Can you use ash from a wood bonfire on the garden?
Answer: Ash is a useful fertiliser that contains a few percent of the essential plant nutrient potassium - apply as a light sprinkling over the vegetable garden in late winter, or add it to our compost bin as light sprinkling whenever you have added a few inches of material. You should still add plenty of organic matter such as garden compost and also fertiliser for best results.
Dania Akkad asks: Is there a standard time that one waits to either sow seeds in the ground or plant little plantlings after applying manure?
Answer: It is usual and wise to allow no less than two weeks from adding organic matter such as manure before planting, although most people add organic matter in the winter so the question seldom arises.
Steve asks: There is a lot of compost in a growbag for relatively small cost - is it OK to plant the seeds using this compost? And does it need a bit of a feed to bring it up to the more expensive composts?
Answer: Growbag material has quite a lot of fertiliser and is a little on the rich side for some seeds, but needs no extra fertiliser. However it is usually good enough for most seeds sown from now on, but for small valuable seeds and for early sowing next year, it would be wise to invest in some proper seed compost. As soon as seedlings can be handled they can be potted up, and grobag media should usually be good enough for this - it is the germination period that is crucial.