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Eric Robson chairs the horticultural panel programme from the village of Whitechapel, Preston. Bob Flowerdew, Bunny Guinness and Anne Swithinbank answer the audience questions.

Eric Robson chairs the horticultural panel programme from the village of Whitechapel, Preston. Bob Flowerdew, Bunny Guinness and Anne Swithinbank answer the audience questions.

Katie Rushworth goes in search of prizewinning, mammoth vegetables and the panel shares some topical tips for the coming week.

Produced by Howard Shannon
Assistant Producer: Hannah Newton

A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.

Available now

43 minutes

Show-stopping Vegetables

Show-stopping Vegetables
Katie Rushworth meets sisters Margaret and Susan Robinson of W. Robinson and Son Seeds. 
 

This week's questions and answers:

Q. I am unable to grow successful Lupins whether from plants or seedlings. Blackfly, slugs, snails and other pests love them. Could the panel offer some advice?
A. Bunny – One of the biggest problems when growing Lupins is controlling the slugs and snails. Try using mineralised straw mulch.
Bob – You may have a problem with your heavy clay soil. Lupins like a poor, dry and sandy soil.

Q. Can you move rhubarb?
A. Bob – Rhubarb is a very tough plant. Don’t dig the whole plant up but take chunks from the outside with buds. Leave the older central part of the plant behind. You will need to move them within the next few weeks and don’t attempt to move them after they have come into growth.
Bunny – Rhubarb likes a rich soil and a sunny position. You could try mulching the ground.

Q. I need to replace three old apple trees. Could you suggest both dessert and cooking varieties that will do well in clay soil?
A. Bob – Apple trees won’t take on old ground where trees have been removed and will be at risk of replant disease. You may have some success if you change the type of fruit. I would recommend the Irish Peach variety of Apple.
Eric – I would recommend Ashmead's Kernel, Keswick Codlin, Ribston Pippin.
Bunny – For clay soil, I would plant them on a mound because the trees will be water sensitive. I would also choose a rigorous rootstock.

Q. I have a Penstemon in a pot. It has flowered profusely for two years but the leaves always fall off. It is kept on a west-facing patio.   
A. Anne – Cut them back after frosts to allow for new growth. Then cut them back again after the first flowering. You can also take cuttings from these new stems.
Bunny – They may not be getting enough water. Try planting them out in the garden.

Q. I have a vigorous Candicans aurora. It needs to be pruned but I don’t want to lose the shape.
A. Bob – Poplar trees always send out lots of suckers when they are pruned.
Anne – Inevitably you are going to end up with a funny shape. The options are to cut back the branches to origin and thin them out, or to cut all the way back to the ground.

Q. How can I successfully grow Parsley?
A. Buy a Parsley plant and let it self -seed. You may have an issue with carrot root fly. Try growing them under netting.

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