Brian Kidd, retired Parks Officer for Portsmouth City Council, will be giving weekly gardening advice and answering gardeners emails. Email your gardening questions to



The yellow botanical crocus are coming into bloom in sheltered places. To prevent them being damaged by sparrows in the early morning, cut out the shape of a cat lying down. Paint it black with a white patch on the front to make it look realistic and thrust 2 marbles into where the eyes should be and place it nearby. The sparrows will keep off the blooms.


The soil is very wet but exhibitors will need to sow parsnip seeds soon. Fork over the soil which should have been dug deeply in the autumn, but NOT manured. Once dug over, cover the rows with cloches to allow the surface to dry and this will also warm the soil a little, ready to sow parsnips at the end of this month. It is essential to buy fresh parsnip seeds as last years seeds will not germinate well.

Parsnip seeds may be peregrinated in a jam jar in damp Vermiculite and as soon as the roots emerge, sow them into the open ground which has been warmed up as suggested above.Vermiculite and parsnip seeds are on sale at Keydell Nureries.

If you are planning to sow a few seeds in the greenhouse, ensure the propagator is turned on for 24 hours before sowing the seeds. Remember too, a part of the greenhouse can be kept warmer by using polythene bubble plastic to divide up the greenhouse. Lovely greenhouse heaters and polythene bubbled film are available at Keydell.

If you need to move shrubs, trees or roses, remember there are only 8 weeks left to undertake these moves. You would be surprised at how many letters I get asking if shrubs can be moved when the leaves are opening.

Leave planks of wood on the soil once it has been dug and turn the wood over once a week and squash the slugs which love to hide below the wood, this will reduce the slug damage problem considerably. In small gardens, use upturned half grapefruit skins and inspect these daily, killing the slugs by giving them the size 8 treatment!

Are the secateurs really sharp? It might be a good idea to put that Keydell gift voucher towards a new pair Have a look at the great range at Keydell Nurseries..Ask at the till if you would like the safety cabinet to be unlocked please.

Have you though how useful a soil warming cable could be? Have a look at the garden centres and you will see on the box how easy it is to install one.You will find just what you need at Keydell.

Does the mower need servicing? There is a 3 week wait at the moment, so don’t leave this job until spring. If you are confident to mower is OK, start it up once a month so that none of the parts cease up in the damp conditions. Start up the rotovator too, it ensures it will start easily when needed in spring.

If it’s windy when digging, always work with your face to the wind, this prevents bad backs.

Are you feeding the birds? Have a look at the range of wild bird food at Keydell Nurseries. On the front of the packs you will see which type of seed to buy to encourage your favourite feathered friends.