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



Before lighting the bonfire, please check that there no hedgehogs asleep in the base. Even if you live in a densely populated area, hedgehogs may have chosen your garden to hibernate for the winter.


Most gardening books recommend pruning Autumn Bliss raspberries in February but here in the south canes can be cut down to soil level, and this can be done as soon as the canes have finished fruiting. After pruning a top dressing of well rotted manure is applied all over the bed, a 4 inch layer is perfect.

Lots of leaves are now falling off the trees. Are you making leaf mould? Put 12 inch layers in large former compost bags turned inside out, after each layer sprinkle on 1 part urine to 7 parts water and sprinkle, not pour. Do this after each 12 inch later. Leaf mould will be ready in 12 months.

Leaf mould is the best peat substitute.

Take off every rose leaf which has black spot disease and put them into the bin, pick up all fallen leaves too and give the roses a spray over with copper Mixture dissolved on water, spray the bushes and the surface of the soil too. Use the strength recommended for copper deficiency. This is a best seller at Keydell Nurseries.

Plant a few narcissus bulbs in a flower pot in John Innes number 2 or 3 compost and put them out into the greenhouse for an early display. When in bloom in February, they will cheer up the lounge and you will be able to say “I grew them myself” A wonderful range is on sale at Keydell.

Pick off the yellowing leaves on all types of cabbage but in particular the Brussels sprouts. This encourage a flow of air below the crown of the plants and reduces the disease which causes the sprouts to rot.

Plant crocus corms at any time between now and December, choose separate colours, don’t buy mixed because from a distance, the white flowers look as if someone has dropped litter in the drift of flowers. Have a look at the lovely named varieties at Keydell Nurseries.

You have probably lifted your potatoes, allowed them to dry in the wind before half filling the potato sacks. Check them this week to ensure there are no rotten tubers in the bags, if you smell a strange smell in the shed - it’s probably rotting potatoes.