Eric Robson and the panel are in the West Midlands. Answering the questions this week are Bunny Guinness, Bob Flowerdew and Christine Walkden.
Produced by Dan Cocker
Assistant producer: Hester Cant
A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4.
Q – I accidentally watered a rose bush with weed killer. It’s bravely fighting back. Should I cosset it or dig it up?
Christine – Dig it out and start again
Bunny – Depends what weed killer it was but it sounds like it’s badly damaged – start again
Q – Can I use rabbit pellets as fertilizer?
Bunny – If you give them a rich diet then they will burn the lawn. I’d water where they’ve been to dilute the area and then put the droppings on the flowerbeds.
Bob – I’d put them on the compost
Q – What type of hops should I grow? For both brewing taste and aesthetics.
Bob – You need female hops. Seeds spoil the fermentation. Specialist hops are essential – not wild or ornamental.
Bunny – Contact the national collection of hops – they’ll be able to advise on your local climate/soil etc. I grow ‘Golden Hop’ – very easy and quite attractive (but no good for beer making).
Bob – Beware – they do grow tall!
Q – I have a ten-year-old brown fig that crops very heavily but I can’t make it into a tree shape. Any advice?
Bunny – It’s probably ‘Brown Turkey’.
Bob – They do grow vigorously. Cut out the long shoots that are long-jointed (big gap between the leaves) as they don’t fruit and just tend to grow and grow. Leave the short-jointed bits. Keep any fertilizers away.
Q – We have a small, triangular, south-west-facing garden. Suggestions for fast-growing screens?
Bob – Kerrier – it can get 5-8ft depending on how rich the soil is.
Christine – Pleached trees. An evergreen like a Filaria.
Q – When we talk about ‘acid loving’ plants are they actually acid loving or are they lime hating?
Bob – Both. Ericaceous plants are the main group we consider acid loving.
Christine – The big problem is the lock up of phosphorous in the soil
Bunny – You can get sulphur pastilles to reduce the pH of your soil. I’m on pH 8 so would never do things like Rhododendrons or Azaleas – but things like Blueberries are fine.
Q – I’ve been growing small apple trees in containers for a few years and they’re all a bit unhappy. Are there organic things I can do to improve their condition?
Bob – There not too bad. You need to water regularly with rain water. I use liquid feeds and the start of the year I’d use a top dressing (a handful of blood fish and bone meal) too. Capsids could be making the small marks.
Christine – I think you’ve got a problem with water pressure – that’s what causing the marks.
Bunny – These patio apples are very popular at the moment – they’re grown on an M-27 dwarf stock. I’d take the bottom off the pots and let them grow down into the soil.
Bob – You also need to thin out the fruits a bit so they’re well spaced
Q – What makes a good front garden?
Christine – Diversity, lots of colour, tidiness.
Bob – Neat and tidy.
Bunny – Be interesting. Grow vegetables if you like!
Q – I planted a silver birch tree and it’s now taller than my house. I’ve got to cut it down so what should I replace it with?
Bunny – Chop it down but let it grow back as a multi-stem.
Christine – Amalanchier ‘Obelisk’ snowy something or other
Bob – Juniperus ‘Skyrocket’