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



School children are gradually being encouraged to eat good food rather than rubbish, what a good idea. Try to grow some runner beans because they are one of the best tasting vegetables. If you only have a small garden don’t be put off as runner beans look elegant in a flower border and they take very little space, they grow up canes. If you live in a flat, grow some in a growing bag, tub or large pot, use 8 feet long canes in the shape of a wigwam, fix the canes to a wall or fence to stop them falling over in the wind, the beans will be ready to eat in August. Growing bags are just outside the entrance doors at Keydell and the seeds are just inside the entrance.


Stop cutting asparagus, the stem now needs to grow so that the ferny leaves can send down nutrients to the roots, this encourages next years crop. Give the plants a feed of blood, fish and bonemeal, fork this into the soil and water afterwards.

Sow seeds of calceolaria pot plants in the greenhouse, this is a job often forgotten. The beautiful balloon like flowers will bloom next spring in a frost free greenhouse.

Enjoy eating strawberries from the garden but get into the habit of taking a bucket with you so that weeds can be put into the bucket. Strawberries quickly become smothered in weeds.

Keep removing side shoots on the tomatoes, this needs to be done regularly. If the bunches of fruits are heavy, use twist ties to support the trusses on the tomato canes. Netting is in stock at Keydell.

Spray outdoor tomatoes and potatoes with Copper mixture to PREVENT blight, I get my leg pulled about this because I warn of blight so often BUT at least you are reading these articles!

Start thinning grapes, wear a hat so that the hair does not get in contact with the fruit, hair spoils the “bloom” on the skins of the fruit.

Spray the foliage of fruit trees with plain water late evening to PREVENT red spider mite.

Cut back I in 3 runner bean vines so that the ones cut back will shoot lower on the vines, this will prolong the crop, a good idea if you are short of space. If there are no flowers on the vines and they are up to the top of the canes, remove half the leaves, give them just 1 oz of Sulphate of potash, along every 3 yards of the row gently fork this in and water afterwards. The reason for non flowering is that too much manure was put into the ground but this little trick will bring in the flowers.