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



This is a good time to have a look at your garden tools. Are they easy to use? Have a look at the range of stainless steel tools in stock at Keydell Nurseies. I would never buy anything else because they are so easy to use and to keep clean after use.


Very important to sow seeds of spring cabbages now, choose new varieties such as Offenheim 2 or Duncan, both F1 hybrids which won’t bolt if we have a sudden hot spell next May. The cabbage will be green too, not a slimy yellow ugh. You will find these just inside the entrance at Keydell.

Prune off summer fruiting raspberry canes as soon as they finish fruiting and ensure the area in which they are growing is not allowed to dry out, new canes should be growing out of the ground, these canes will bear next year’s fruit. Tie the new shoots onto wires as soon as they are long enough. Have a look at the wide range of secateurs at Keydell, don't buy a cheap pair

Get into the habit of summer pruning apples, look at the main branches and there will be side shoots growing out of these branches, cut the side shoots back to half their length, this will induce fruiting spurs and a better crop the following year, try to summer prune every year from now on.

Sow seeds of indoor cyclamen in the greenhouse or even on a windowsill, they take a long time to germinate because they make a tiny tuber even before the first leaf can be seen, see if you can find a scented type.

Stop watering indoor amaryllis, put the pot on its side somewhere indoors up in the sun. This will make the foliage die down. In October the leaves are cut off even if they are still green and the bulb is then potted in the same size pot in DRY, not even moist but DRY John Innes number 3 compost, kept in the light with NO WATER until the fat flower bud emerges in February the following year.

Ensure azaleas, rhododendrons and in particular camellias are really moist at the roots, this will ensure the buds won’t fall off next spring. Premature camellia bud drop in spring is due to the roots being dry in August and into the autumn.

Plant corms of freesias indoors in a large cool window or better still in the greenhouse, plant 5 in a 5 inch diameter pot and get hold of some hazel fans to support the long grass like foliage, it gets very long and untidy, the hazel fans keep the foliage together and as a result, the flowers will be on long stems, not curly useless specimens. Imagine the perfume at the end of February onwards.

Lift main crop potatoes as soon as the foliage dies down, the longer they are left in the soil, the more slug damage will be seen. If you want to save time, cut the haulms down and remove the weeds, it is surprising how much time can be saved - oh and do this job on a nice day!