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Planning Retirement Online

Your Gardening queries - 2


Mary Mary, quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?         

With silver bells and cockle shells,                    

And pretty maids all in a row....                     


If only gardening were as simple as that little nursery rhyme. But it isn`t, so we are putting some of the solutions here to problems you have written to us about, so everyone can have the benefit.


Please e-mail me with your garden problems, comments, or ideas for this section of  laterlife.  Click here for previous editions of Gardener`s Diary.



This month`s gardening problems 


Q:  Gail Toups asks: How do I get rid of coco grass?

A:   I think I know this as couch grass, which is of the same family and habit as coco grass.. It is very stubborn, not receptive to weedkillers and can grow up to a depth of about 1 metre. With a lot of perseverance you can weed it out but you have to make sure you get all the roots out because if you miss even one piece it will start to grow again. It will mean digging the area thoroughly to make sure you get all the roots and tubers, and being quick to remove new shoots almost as they appear.


 Q: From Maggie: My mother has recently been having trouble with her electric wheelchair getting stuck / bogged down in the grass in her garden. She does not want any more paving, and so I am trying to find some kind of mesh which we can place permanently on the grass which will allow the grass to grow through and then be mown like a normal lawn.. Can you help or do you have any suggestions

A: I have had a look around for you and found just the thing on the website below. They do various types of lawn re-enforcement mesh. I hope this helps with your mother`s problem.

 Q: Marge asks: My husband and I bought a smaller house and want to put a garden where the old gravel drive was. Problem: The previous owner changed motorcycle and car oil there and spilled, we don`t think it`s safe for veggies. Is there any product that will clean the soil or decontaminate?

A: I double checked with my husband on this one, as he is a builder.. You will need to remove the soil that has been contaminated as there is no way to clean it up without further polluting it. That`s the bad news - the good news is that the oil won`t have gone very deep, probably only a foot at the most, and it will be contained within a specific area where the guy worked. So before you get the earth movers in, try having a dig around yourselves. The guy may have put some sand down too, to soak up the oil, so it probably isn`t as bad as you first feared. 



Q: From Carol who is fighting a losing battle with aphids and says the sprays don`t seem to work any more..  

A:  There do seem to be more aphids than ever in recent years and I also found that bug guns do not seem to have that much effect on the little critters. So I have followed the advice that Alan Titchmarsh has recently given, and gone for `natures way`.. So no bug guns or sprays, just let the ladybirds and other `good guys` take over from the chemicals.  Aphids become immune to the stuff we spray on them, in much the same way as us humans become immune to antibiotics.  
I wrote off some of my plants for the last year and possibly this year
too, to see if I can achieve a natural balance.  


Q: Emma in North Devon who wants to know if she can grow snapdragons in her part of the world..

A: I like snapdragons myself and I believe they are gaining popularity once more. I live in the Midlands and find that they will happily self seed themselves around my garden, therefore I am sure that in temperate North Devon where you live they will be even more likely to do so ... I have put a little information below, but recommend that for further comprehensive information you ask the search engines to find websites dealing with the subject. I have looked on the Amazon website for books about snapdragons but there are none that deal exclusively with them. Again, look at some online seed catalogues such as Thompson & Morgan, for cultivation information. 

""Antirrhinums, or Snapdragons are considered hardy annuals (which means they can withstand cold temperatures and light frost) and are easy to grow from seed. The seeds can be started indoors as early as January and put in a cold frame or greenhouse by March for early June flowering. Or you may try saving the seed and scattering it directly onto the borders around September time. (I do this with many hardy annuals and just let them grow where they like. I can always thin them out in the Spring.)

Antirrhinums have a wide range of flower colors and can be grown in three different sizes, depending on the cultivar; however, the intermediate size is the most popular. The flowers bloom profusely from Spring until Autumn. They require sun to partial shade, with well-drained soil. The word "antirrhinum" refers to the snoutlike or noselike shape of the flower. If mulched, they will survive the winter where winters are mild.""

* Of course you can always buy new ones each year from your garden centre, but it is not so rewarding as producing your own plants from seed.. 


Previous editions of your gardening queries:


Edition 1

Edition 2


Please e-mail me with your garden problems, comments, or ideas for this section of  laterlife.



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