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



Have a look at the lovely range of summer flowering plant seedlings at Keydell Nurseries, you should be able to find those lovely begonia semperflorens. There are seedlings available ready for you to prick out in your greenhouse at home.


It's more than likely the grass needs cutting. You did get the mower serviced of course but if it wasn't necessary, you started the mower (and the rotovator) up about once a month during the winter to make sure it would start when you needed to use it. The grass is quite wet, drag a stiff broom behind you all over the lawn, this will induce the drops of water on the leaves to fall onto the ground. Leave it for an hour and then mow the grass. It is quite pleasing to see the grass is easier to cut and this will transform the garden. The lawn is like a carpet in the home, if it looks good, the garden is enhanced. Try to cut the lawn regularly this year, short grass takes less time to cut than long grass.

Early carrots can be sown outdoors now. Prepare the ground by digging over the soil but DON'T put in any manure or compost. 10 days prior to sowing the seeds, rake in 2 to 3 ounces of blood, fish and bone fertiliser and rake this into the soil. Sow early varieties such as Early Nantes and immediately cover the row with insect barrier mesh. Hoops made of plastic water piping 2 metres long with thin wood pushed into the ends of the piping makes a kind of tunnel, cover the hoops with the insect barrier mesh, this will stop the carrot root fly from laying eggs in the rows. Insect barrier mesh is available at Keydell along with the seeds you require.

Plant onion setts now, a lot of gardeners will have done this already. Before planting the setts, put the baby setts into a brown paper bag and add some sulphur dust and shake the bag to cover the setts with the sulphur dust, this is a simple way of preventing onion rot. You can buy sulphur in drums at Keydell and there are a few onion setts still available.

The herbaceous plants are starting to grow, this is the time to divide the plants and weed the border. After forking through, apply a really good feed such as Vitax Q4 fertiliser, always in sock at Keydell using 4 ounces per square yard and fork this in around the plants.

Support the herbaceous plants in good time, sprays of hazel pushed in around the outsides of all the clumps will support the new growth. The appearance of the border doesn't look good but the plants grow so rapidly, in a months time the hazel sprays won't be seen. If you visit Wisley gardens, you will see the gardeners there have already undertaken this job.

In the greenhouse plant some freesia corms, plant 5 around the edge of a 5 inch diameter pot and push in hazel sprays around the edge of the pot to support the foliage. Just imagine, the perfume in 14 weeks time.

Sow just 12 seeds of lettuce in the cold greenhouse, be patient by sowing just one seed in single insert cells, these will be ready to plant outdoors in 6 weeks time.

Sow seeds in the same way for Brussels sprouts choosing early varieties, please try F1 hybrids if you have not been successful with other types, the F1 hybrid types don't "blow" into open sprouts like the older varieties.

Buy seed of curly kale, this is the tastiest winter cabbage and looks good on the dinner plate because it is a lovely dark green. (And it's good for you) Sow the seeds in 2 weeks time.

Sow seed of beetroot, just a short row, these seeds can be sown at any time from now until the end of June. You will find all of these seeds at Keydell. just inside the entrance.