Gardening questions answered

With the warm weather comes the chance to spend more time in the garden, but how do you make your roses grow when all the garden pests want to do is nibble on them?

Q. Bob
The tomatoes I buy these days no longer taste like tomatoes, unless I buy the expensive vine ones. How can I grow my own tasty tomatoes without spending a fortune?

Tomato varieties sold in the supermarkets are ones that have firm skins and a long shelf life. Tasty tomatoes are easy to grow at home during the warmer weather. Source tomato seed from mail order companies such as The Diggers Club. They have a large range of tasty varieties including heirloom, cherry and roma types. Alternatively a good selection of seedling tomatoes can be found at your local garden centre. Allowing the tomatoes to ripen on the bush will enhance the flavour even further.

Tomatoes are best grown in a sunny position in the garden or in pots. Dig in some good quality compost or aged animal manure before planting. Plant your tomatoes after the threat of frost has passed. Apply a dressing of tomato food, mulch and water well.

As your plants are growing water regularly as needed. A liquid feed fortnightly will encourage good growth and fruit production. You should be able to start harvesting tomatoes in about seventy days depending on the variety grown. Planting different varieties, and staggering your planting will extend the length of harvesting time.

Any excess production can be shared with friends or frozen for use later on.

The bugs are already starting to nibble at my roses and the warmer weather has only just started. I want to enjoy my flowers all through the summer, what can I do to get rid of these pests?

A. The lush, spring growth on roses attract insect activity. By keeping your plants healthy and growing vigorously, by watering and mulching well they will be less prone to succumb to insect attack. If insects such as thrips and aphids do infest your roses, spray your roses with an insecticide. Try an organic spray such as pyrethrum, spraying your plants twice, one week apart. From there spray again if needed. Alternatively you can use a stronger spray such as Confidor. Spray twice, two weeks apart.