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I don't have a garden, just a balcony, where I grow some pot flowers and  herbs. I was just wondering what kind of veggies I could grow there? Do you have any ideas? And how big should be pots for growing veggies?


Posted 11/09/2012 by Magda, Dublin

Hello Magda
Check out this video to see a demonstration of growing edible plants in a small trug. This can be replicated in pots and containers.
You could also look at using a Growise Fruit & Vegetable planter. You can still plant up vegetable plants and plugs which most garden centres still have a good range of. Use whatever plants are available as it is getting late for sowing some seeds.
Using pots and containers try for a pot diameter of at least 12 inches or any size window box would do.

Kind regards
Brendan Howell

What can i do to get rid of black deposits all over the leaves of a large camelia . It's almost completely covered in it.

Posted 11/09/2012 by Tomas, Waterford

Hello Tomas
It sounds like you had a problem with aphids. The result of an aphid infection is the sooty deposits you describe. They excrete excess sugar after sucking into the leaves. This sugary substance causes the mould to grow on it.
Check the plant for any sign of aphids but they may be all gone now. Try washing the leaves with a lukewarm soapy mixture.
If the camellia is growing underneath a tree the deposits may have fallen down from the tree above.
When camellias have finished flowering it is a good time to give them a liquid feed to strengthen up for next year. You may need to spray with an insecticide to prevent this in the future.
Brendan Howell

I have some cypress Shrubs that need pruning but I'm not sure how much to take off them and when to actually cut them. Also if I want to move them when is the best time to do that too?


Posted 11/09/2012 by Jackie, Dublin

Hello Jackie
You should always cut conifers or cypress when they are actively growing. Cut back the current season's growth by about two-thirds. This should be done each year and not to leave it go for several years as you will end up with woody unsightly material.
So you may cut it now!
Regarding moving them this should only be looked at in the Autumn. Choose a time when ground conditions are not too wet or cold. You will need to dig well around the plant so as you dig out a large root ball with each one. Replant into a bigger hole with plenty of fresh compost to encourage new root development.
Brendan Howell

Can you please recommend ways to keep my shrubbery and flower borders weed-free as I have just finished weeding them. It is a large area. Love your website as it is full of great advise.

Posted 11/09/2012 by Michael, Co Kildare

Hello Michael
Thanks for the nice comments on the web site!

Now that you have put the effort into weeding this large area you can do several things. Get a good sharp hoe and as the new weed seedlings germinate run over them with the hoe. If you do this on a bright windy day they will disappear in no time. You are preventing new weeds from flowering and setting new seed so you break the cycle over time.

Another good way is to spread a layer of bark mulch over the area. A 2-3 inch layer will prevent new weed growth and also protect the soil from erosion and drying out. On large areas use the Growise Landscape Mini Chip and on smaller areas use Growise Superfine Bark.
Brendan Howell

I have a very very large phormium! nice specimen but a good few leaves
looking a bit tatty from wind damage etc can it be pruned to tidy it up and
how hard can it be pruned? Also have a cordyline with lots of dead leaves, I
always believed they should be left to fall naturally but I'm tempted to pull
them off!!? What advice please?

Many thanx Rita

Posted 11/09/2012 by Rita, Cork

Hello Rita
Regarding the phormium you will always have a certain amount of dead leaves. These should be removed regularly and this will help to promote young growth. If the plant is gone quite large for the area it is in you could lift it carefully in the autumn and pide the plant into several young plants. At this stage you can cut back the foliage hard. Take care when replanting as phormiums do not like to be planted too deeply.
With the cordyline as the lower leaves die off pull them off. This also encourages new growth and keeps the plant tidier looking.
Brendan Howell

My peonies won't flower - do you have any tips?

Posted 10/09/2012 by Barbara, via Facebook

If your peonies are new check that they are not planted too deeply. The tubers need to be at the surface with a fine layer of mulch to protect them from drying out. Also they need full sun so the weather at the moment will not be helping them in that department.
If they are older plants they may have become too crowded which will reduce the flowering. If this is the case lift them in the autumn and pide each into about three new plants. These new plants will flower quite well next year.

Brendan Howell

I've 3 red robin small trees in a tub each. Tub is about 2ft wide. I've noticed that the trees are becoming very sparse at the bottom and hardly any leaves are left on them. You can see right through them. Why is this? They are still red on top and are growing but not much underneath. Next door have some shrubs right up behind them in their garden. Do you think this might be the reason ours aren't doing so well? I would hate to see them die off.
Thanks for all your help and information

Posted 29/06/2012 by Jackie, Dublin

Hello Jackie

I would move the plants from the current position they are in. The shrubs from next door are drawing them up towards the light and making the base of the plants go bare. They could also be pot bound and hungry. Try putting them into the next size pot available and use new fresh compost. This will encourage out new growth from the base of the plant. You could also tip prune the growing points to encourage lateral growth from underneath.

Kind regards
Brendan Howell

What is the best time of year to move a dwarf bamboo?

Posted 29/06/2012 by Dympna, Belfast

Hello Dympna

If the bamboo is in a container or tub you may move or repot it now. However if it is planted directly in the ground leave it alone until the end of September or October. In a fine spell of weather dig well around the plant and lift it out for replanting in its new position. You may pide the plant if you wish into two or three new plants and replant each with plenty of fresh new compost. Finally water the plants well to settle them into the new positions.

Kind regards
Brendan Howell

When do I prune a 2 year old plum tree?

Posted 29/06/2012 by Josie, via Facebook

Hi Josie,

Pruning an established plum tree is just a matter of cutting back overcrowding, however pruning of a younger tree like yours is different, as you are trying to build up a fruiting framework. Prune in early Spring or mid-Summer to avoid disease.

There are many ways to prune a plum tree but the most common is the 'bush method', creating an open centre and clear stem.

Taking it that the tree was pruned last year (year 1) forming the open centre, growth this year should have been in the interior, with the main branch system towards the outside.  Limit pruning  to removing crossing, weak, vertical and diseased material. 

Hi. I have a small garden. Because of my physical disability my place is going wild. Planting in containers now. Can u give me ideas?

Posted 29/06/2012 by Clare, via Facebook

Hi Clare, 

Raised bed gardens are a great and easy way for anyone with reduced mobility or back problems, as raised beds allow for gardening with no bending or kneeling. Raised beds can be made from any material, and wood is commonly used, for example decking planks can be cut and nailed together to form the basis of the beds, to any size or height. They can be lined with a semi-permeable liner and can be used to grow a wide variety of plants and vegetables.

Raised beds can then be filled with Growise Enriched Topsoil, which is enriched with naturally occurring plant nutrients and high in organic matter, Growise Topsoil also contains composted green waste which will promote healthy, vigorous plant and vegetable growth.

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