Peter Gibbs is joined by panel members Christine Walkden, Chris Beardshaw and Bob Flowerdew to kick off the new gardening year in the first Gardeners' Question Time programme of 2013, recorded in Mercia.
Produced by Howard Shannon
A Somethin' Else Production for BBC Radio 4.
Q. Can growing Chrysanthemums and tomatoes in succession in the greenhouse border cause problems?
A. Certain plants are antithetical to other plants and leave residues in the soil that can harm them. It could be a problem, but you could dig a trench and refill it with old grass turfs and begin again.
Q. I have two Bromeliads, one a Tillandsia and the other a Guzmania. How can I propagate them and is it worth it?
A. Removed and divided offsets will normally take between 3-5 years to reach flowering size.
Q. Do the panel have any advice on building a Peach tree protection or cover, specifically how to attach plastic to the frame?
A. Peach trees need to be kept dry from around Christmas until the end of March in order to prevent Peach Leaf Curl. A temporary structure can be constructed with a sheet or Perspex fixed onto hanging basket brackets, with roller blinds pulled down around the sides. You can also spray with Bordeaux Mixture, or plant Avalon Pride, a new Peach variety that doesn't get Peach Leaf Curl very badly.
Q. What could I plant for colour, scent and structure to replace a Privet hedge that is 10ft high, 5ft wide and 60ft long.
A. A British native hedge of Rosa Rugosa, Crataegus Prunifolia, Sloe, Viburnum or Guelder Roses are advised, but will need maintenance just like the Privet. You could cut the existing Privet right back to the stumps and let it grow back to the desired size.
Q. Could the panel recommend any white flowered herbaceous perennials to grow beneath a holly hedge?
A. Campanula Alternifolia 'Alba', Wood Anemones and Digitalis Purpurea 'Albiflora' (perennial Foxgloves) are all recommended. Alternatively, the Sillybum Marianum milk thistle has white-marked leaves, while the Onopordon thistle is a grayish white colour.
Q. My two Prunus trees suffered from dieback over the summer. Can you advise?
A. There is some staining in evidence in the plant tissue below the bark which suggests bacterial canker. This can be tackled either by improving growing conditions or by removing the trees altogether.
Q. My Saffron Crocus bulbs, brought three years ago, are producing leaves but not flowers. Why not?
A. Move the bulbs in their pot into a greenhouse or other protected area to help them get started and protect them from any slugs!
Q. I'd like to create a small pond close to the house. How can I prevent this from becoming home to mosquitoes?
A. Place the pond so that it overlaps with as many different habitats as possible, which will encourage the wildlife. To discourage mosquitoes, plant and gravel right up to the water level and do not allow any mud.
Q. How can you encourage hens to lay on shredded paper?
A. Hens tend to prefer barley straw. If they really don't like the nest box, there may be mites or fleas, which can be treated with various products.