Ask the Expert

Is brown gold ericaceous compost ok for blueberry plants. When should I feed blueberry plants?

Posted 25/07/2013 by Margaret, Kildare

Yes! Blueberries love an acidic soil so that is perfect! Also, mulch them in Spring. You could use pine needles if you have them and an additional high potasium feed - like a tomato feed, during the growing season. 

I am finding lots of snails on the outside of my house. Why are there snails on my house and what is attracting them?

Posted 25/07/2013 by Stephen, Orlando

Sometimes snails are attracted to a certain type of mildew but sometimes it can be orientation. If they are bothering you there are ways to get rid of them. I am not a fan of slug pellets or beer traps etc. Try a thin strip of copper at the base of the house. You can get this in most garden centres. They do not like to cross copper!

The flowers on my courgette plant have dried up and died. Will they come back?

Posted 16/07/2013 by Roisin, Wicklow

The courgette plant has male and female flowers on the same plant and they need to cross pollinate in order to produce fruit. Also, only the female produce fruit. Attracting pollinators to the garden, by planting perennials that attract bees such as Nepeta and Monarda would be a great start! You could hand - pollinate with a little soft paintbrush too! 

I started growing sunflowers from seed about a month ago. They shot up in the first week but they seem to have stopped growing now. Are they dead?

Posted 16/07/2013 by Stephen, Dublin

This could be caused by the hot, sudden weather conditions. Make sure you water the sunflowers very deeply and not too often. By deeply I mean really soak the root ball. 

My dwarf runner beans are dying! Any tips on how to save them? I planted them about a month ago but the leaves seem to be wilting. I water them everyday and give them plant food as well.

Posted 16/07/2013 by Pa via Facebook

It sounds like it could be anything from too little nutrients to too much wind. The most likely cause is the scorching weather that has given all of the plants a bit of a shock! I have seen hardy birch trees losing leaves in this heat! The best thing to do is to create some sort of a cover for them for use on very sunny days so that they are not in direct sunlight. Also, water deeply and leave the roots in when they die back after the growing season. This gives the soil extra nutrients.

I bought a grape tree with small grapes on it and have it in the glass house. The branches are getting heavy and I was wondering what is best to use to support them?

Posted 04/07/2013 by S, Kildare

If the grapes have found their permanent home in that spot it would be worth creating a wire support for them as they can get quite heavy. This is how they are grown in cultivated areas in France or Spain for example. If the plant grows on a wall, then it can be fixed to the wall on metal hooks. If they are free standing then maybe a metal post should be set into the ground and then wires strung across. 

I have neutral soil in my garden, what fruit/veg/flowers suit this ph?

Posted 01/07/2013 by Marguerite, Galway

The answer to that question is most plants! Neutral PH soil is a great start to most successful plant growth. Most vegetables, fruit and flowers do well in a soil with a neutral PH. 

I am having great difficulty getting parsnips to germinate. Any tips?

Posted 01/07/2013 by S, Limerick

Parsnips tend to germinates quite easily. It’s important to get the soil right initially though. Make sure that it is deep and light in texture. Parsnips usually take about a month to germinate, depending on the parsnip type so try giving it a little more time. 

Do you know how I can grow livingstone daisy? Can I grow it from seed? 

Posted 24/06/2013 by Carmel, Kerry

Livingstone daisies are very beautiful plants. You can grow them from seed but it is also easy to buy small plants in most garden centres. Remember they like full sun so in Ireland they only open on sunny days! They like well drained and nutrient rich soil. Also, for best results deadhead regularly.

I have rhododendron that is about 30 years old. There are plenty of flowers but the leaves have got yellow and black spot. What could it be?

Posted 24/06/2013 by Mary, Clare

This sounds like powdery mildew which is common in rhododendrons and azaleas. There are several types of chemical treatments that you can get in your garden centre for this. 

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