Q: I have grown begonias for the first time this year and the flowers have been spectacular. I would like to save the corms for next year, but am not sure when & how to do this. Could you advise please?
CJ via e-mail
A: Leave the begonias alone until the cold weather has cut them back, this is normally the end of October. Dig the corms out of the containers and let them dry out. Begonia corms need to be stored in a cool dry dark place like a shed. Sprinkle some sulphur powder over them to protect against rot. Wrap them individually in newspaper to insulate them. Watch out for mice eating them. Plant up next spring.
Q: My garden has a bindweed problem –what can I do this autumn to keep it as clear as possible over the winter?
A: Bindweed goes back to its underground roots in the winter. Spray with a systemic weed killer right away. this will not kill completely. Next May watch out for re-emergence and spray again.
Q: What fertilisers should I use to best grow winter vegetables? And which grow best in a small garden?
A: For root vegetables use super phosphate. For green veg like cabbage and cauliflower use sulphate of ammonia. Where space is limited plant crops that crop continuously like cut and come lettuce. Baby round carrots are space savers and veg you can grow in containers.
Q: I have a real urge to find some of the best conkers this autumn. How do you tell a good conker, and where will I find them?
A: You will find conkers under horse chestnut trees. These can be found in most parks and woodland walks. Collect several green prickly cases as when you open them not all of the conkers inside will be good. Choose conkers which are not cracked, firm and symmetrical. To make your conker even tougher soak in vinegar for two minutes and bake in an oven at 250 degrees (gas mark 9) for 90 seconds. The perfect conker!
Tips of the week. Autumn is a good time to plant hardy shrubs and perennials because the ground is still warm and gives them a better start for next year. Plant your autumn/winter baskets now so they are established before winter sets in.
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