The Edible Garden Show
Eric Robson chairs GQT from The Edible Garden Show in Warwickshire - with Bob Flowerdew, Christine Walkden and James Wong taking the audience's questions.
Produced by Howard Shannon.
A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.
This week's questions:
Q: I have recently acquired items from an old fridge freezer, including three glass shelves. How can I put them to use in the garden?
A: Try them as temporary wind breaks to shield tender plants. Alternatively, recycle them at your local tip in a swap for free compost. Freezer glass tends to be fairly strong, but do take care.
Q: What trees would you propose we plant to screen the new railway line being built at the bottom of our heavy clay garden?
A: Try fruit and flower trees such as Crataegus Prunifolia, a native tree which has beautiful Autumn colour and good fruit. Malus 'Flowering Crab' and Sorbuses - the Mountain Ashes - would also work and come in a spectacular range of sizes and with good leaf colours, flowers and fruits that will feed the wildlife. Although not a tree, Bamboo Phyllostachys would make a great screen and will also absorb sound. Use a high nitrogen fertiliser on your clay soil and it should grow pretty quickly.
Q: I have a horseradish root growing very close to my rhubarb and last year the rhubarb died very quickly. Are the two things related?
A: Some plants are antithetical to others but in this case it sounds unlikely - the rhubarb probably just had a bad case of crown rot. Horseradish is very difficult to move or get rid of so it would probably be a better idea to plant your rhubarb elsewhere anyway. Try a virus-free variety such as Victoria.
Q: I planted broad beans, peas and asparagus in October and received poor results. Should I have left it to spring?
A: In a normal year, planting in October would be fine but the constant wet and cold weather over the past year has been problematic. That said, have patience with your asparagus as it can sometimes take nearly 20 weeks before you see the first shoots appear.
Q: I'm keen to grow the 'super-fruit' pomegranates, what varieties would work in the UK?
A: Pomegranates are very difficult to grow as they need long hot summers - so forget about a serious crop. You could try growing the dwarf variety in your greenhouse, which incidentally has magnificent flowers. On the subject of 'super fruit', you might be surprised to hear pomegranates only contain about as many anti-oxidants as red lettuces or red apples - so you could grow those instead.
Q: What are the best 'value for time' crops that I could plant at my allotment?
Q: Build a fruit cage and plant soft fruits - once everything's in the ground you'll have nothing to do for six months until it's time for harvest. Grow things such as quinces, chillis and guavas, or try white strawberries that are 'invisible' to birds as they tend to only hone in on the red colours. Rapid growing vegetables such as salad leaves, spring onions and radishes are always good.
A: I'd like to grow my own Loganberries. What variety and conditions would you suggest?
Q: Consider the Tayberry - a hybrid developed in Scotland, which is bigger, juicier and easier to grow. The Black Raspberry Glenn Coe would be another good alternative - it's a new breed from the UK that fruits twice a year with a very high sugar content.
Q: I have some Cordon Apple trees which have rooted from above the rootstock union. To stop them getting too over-vigorous can I simply cut the roots that have grown above?
A: Providing that they haven't taken over from the original root-stock - yes. Check by getting a hold of the bottom of the tree and give it a yank at ground level. If it's firm you should be fine.
Q: We planted the top of a pineapple in our front garden and it's now a very attractive plant about 3 foot tall. It has survived frost and snow - will it survive being moved?
A: We're amazed to hear it has survived being outside. Pot it up in a gritty, well-draining compost and bring it into cover. Expose it to smoke to bring it into flower and six months later it should fruit.
Q: Do you have any advice for growing a butternut squash?
A: Why not try something you can't find in the shops such as Cucurbita Ficifolia, the 'fig leaf gourd' also known as the 'angel's hair pumpkin' in Spain and 'shark fin melon' in Asia. You can eat the stem tips and the gourd has a mild cucumbery flavour. It's the most cool-tolerant of all Curcubita and will take over your garden.
Q: I bought a Garrya Eliptica that' remained in its pot for two months and now looks black and crinkly. Should I prune it?
A: Don't prune it as it sounds as it sounds like it has experienced considerable death. Leave it in the pot and wait to see if anything shoots.