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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 wide range of vegetable plants in cells at Keydell Nurseries. These seedlings are great time savers and you are off to a good start if you would like to grow a few vegetables this year.


Try to take advantage of a dry spell to plant the Maincrop potatoes. Make sure the tubers are covered with at least 5 inches of soil. Scatter blood fish and bone meal fertiliser along the rows using 3 ozs per yard run and work this into the surface. Finish by leaving a ridge of soil over the rows of planted tubers. When earthing up, try to use sieved compost but to each barrow load of compost add 1 lb of sulphate of potash well mixed with the compost. This reduces slug damage really effectively. (The potash burns the slugs) You will find fish blood and bone fertiliser and sulphate of potash at Keydell in handy sized boxes.

Ground dug over in autumn may now be smothered with chickweed and other rapidly growing annual weeds. Walk on a plank and spray the weeds with Weedol, this is in red ready to spray containers at Keydell this product will kill them off in a few days but needs to be done before the weeds come into flower. Try to do this on a sunny day for the most rapid results and don’t allow the drift to touch cultivated plants - especially the neighbours!

Antirrhinum and stocks already pricked out into seed trays can be put outside now because they are fairly hardy. Have some fleece ready to cover them if the nights are cold.

Buy seeds of perennials, most gardeners sow perennials in early May in seed trays in the greenhouse. If you want seeds, there is a great range at Keydell Nurseries.

Think about fixing an automatic ventilator in the roof light in the greenhouse, they can be really useful, especially when holidays are undertaken. There are a few still in stock at Keydell.

Watch out for sudden hot spells. Plants in the greenhouse quickly scorch in very hot sunshine, have some sheets of newspaper ready to cover them, this is very effective and free.

Take the red bracts of the tips of poinsettia plants now and cut back each stem by one third. The cuts will exude a white liquid which is poisonous. Use toilet tissue to mop it up and wash the hands afterwards. The plant can be potted into the next size pot into John Innes number 2 compost. Water it the day before repotting.

Canterbury bells are lovely plants, this is the time to sow the seeds for blooms next year. Yes, you will find the seeds at Keydell but be quick because they sell very quickly as they are making a come back.

Remove dead flowers and seed heads on daffs and tulips. Spray roses with Roseclear 2 to prevent disease Roseclear is in stock at Keydell Nurseries.

Please keep putting out fresh water for the birds, you will be rewarded when you hear them singing and when they bring the babies into your garden. Have a look at the range of wild bird foods at Keydell.