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43 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 14 February 2014

Eric Robson hosts the horticultural panel programme from Lowestoft, Suffolk.

Bob Flowerdew, Pippa Greenwood and Anne Swithinbank take questions from the audience of local gardeners.

We send Bob Flowerdew back to the classroom to find out how students are engaging with the delights of horticulture - and James Wong visits Thanet Earth, Kent to ask whether it is possible to grow tomatoes throughout the winter.

Produced by Howard Shannon.
A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4

This week's questions:

Q. The new growth on the Laurel hedge is beautiful. However, after a short while a powder appears on it and the leaves curl up. Could the panel explain what the powder might be?

A. It's likely to be powdery mildew. On Laurels it often causes little patches on the leaves to die and drop away making the leaves look moth-eaten. It is common on Laurel due to their dense build, which means there is poor air circulation and the muggy air is ideal for powdery mildew. Powdery mildew infections are worse in dry soil. Try layering mulch around the base of the hedge.

Q. Could the panel suggest plants for my small west-facing garden. I would like them to require little maintenance, be scented and attract butterflies and wildlife?

A. Buddleia is easy, tough and butterflies love it. Try a Daphne Transatlantica Eternal Fragrance as it flowers from spring all the way through until the end of the summer. Another recommendation is the Ceanothus Puget Blue which is very popular with bees and smells fabulous.

Q. Is the freezer a good place to keep seeds?

A. Bob prefers a dead fridge, as they are the perfect temperature. He would not recommend putting tender seeds in the freezer but hardy seeds should be fine however there are no obvious benefits from doing so. Pippa would go for a fridge over a freezer - however it is important to note dryness is very important so, if you can, use a separate small fridge. Seeds you know to be poisonous should not be kept in your fridge or freezer.

Q. Sheep Sorrel has invaded my lawn. How do I get rid of it without using chemicals and how affective are it's seeds in causing it to proliferate?

A. If you do not want to use chemicals then another way to look at the problem isto think how you can make the grass grow better and out-compete the sorrel. Aerate the soil, feeding the grass and make the climate favour the grass over the Sheep Sorrel.

Q. I would like to grow a Fuchsia from seed but my attempts have never been very successful. What is the key to getting a new plant to develop?

A. Avoid planting the entire fruit; extract the seed first. Try out different methods of extraction such as extracting or macerating them in water. Try planting the seeds both fresh and after being stored for a couple of months to see which method works best. Fuchsia fruit makes great jam!

Q. As a non-vegetable eating allotment holder, could the panel recommend anything weird and wonderful to grow in my greenhouse?

A. Oriental vegetables would be great fun to grow, for example Mizuna, Pak choi, Garlic and Onions. Try growing peanuts by them in a husk in a pot. Once they begin to grow you will need to move them into a border or an extremely large pot because the flowers push themselves into the ground. Dig them up in the autumn. A final suggestion would be Lemongrass. Look for pieces with a stub on the bottom and place them in a glass of water on a windowsill. Once it has grown roots simply pot it up.


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