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



If you are thinking about cleaning the pond, this should be done before the frogs and toads begin to spawn. If they are already active, simply remove sludge from the bottom of the pond and split up water lilies and replant them in baskets.


Try to hoe through the strawberry plants, the ground is very compacted due to the wet weather, by easing the soil, this will introduce air and the plants will start off into growth earlier, this will help speed up the fruiting. If you hate hoeing, have a look at the stainless steel hoes at Keydell Nurseries, all types of stainless steel tools make the job much easier and the tools are easy to clean.

Did you get the motor mower serviced? If not, in another 6 weeks you will have to wait ages to get it done. If you can’t be bothered, at least start up the engine to see if is working after all the damp weather. The same apples to rotovator, if one won’t go, buy a new sparking plug. A new plug is the heart of an engine.

Put your bag of seed sowing compost into the greenhouse, it is amazing how it will warm up ready for seed sowing a few days later You will find a great selection of composts at Keydell and a member of staff will be pleased to lift it for you.

Buy some Copper Mixture fungicide so that you have some ready to prevent potato and tomato blight. In June, when you need it you will find this at Keydell in green plastic drums.

Buy some seeds of salad Bowl lettuce for sowing indoors in early April.

• This is an excellent time to plant new roses, prepare the soil well and if the soil is poor, invest in a bag of shrub planting compost, calculate you will need the equivalent of a gallon bucket of compost for each new rose bush.

If you grow ornamental grasses, some of them still look attractive because they are the evergreen types but some are past their best and look brown. Cut those which are brown down to the base, leave just an inch of stem and then fork over the soil. A scattering of grit over the surface will make this spot look more attractive.

If you lifted up a clump or rhubarb roots just before Christmas and it is still out there lying on the soil, place it into a black polythene sack and pop it into the bottom of the airing cupboard or underneath the greenhouse staging. The lovely red stems which emerge will be tasty in about a months time.

Nerine bulbs can be divided now, these great favourites spread quite quickly and tend to be ignored, this is the time to divide the clumps and plant them elsewhere in the garden.

If you can retain 50F in your greenhouse, you might like to sow some dwarf French beans and once large enough, plant them into pots. These will crop well in the greenhouse next June.

Peas sown in insert cells in the cold greenhouse 5 weeks ago will be ready to plant outdoors now. Prepare the soil and if possible, cover the ground with some temporary cloches to warm it up and it will also help the soil dry out too. Obtain some hazel sprays to hold the pea foliage together and protect the new plants from pigeons otherwise they will be devoured in just a couple of days.