QI've got a new pond,- how can I keep the water clear and encourage wildlife to visit?Dawn Goodall, EpsomTo keep the water clear, make sure you add lots of oxygenating plants - Canadian pond weed is common, although can be invasive, so choose a native kind. Also add small bunches of barley straw in the first year. Make the pond wildlife-friendly by adding pebble beaches, which act as entry points, and lots of stones for perching. YOUR PROBLEMS SOLVEDQ & A32 www.dobbies.com spring/summer 2012Dobbies plant expert, Paul Travis-Anderson, is on hand to solve your seasonal gardening problems QWhat's the best way to pot on young seedlings? Bob Smith, SheffieldACarefully remove seedlings from their modules or trays one at a time. Use a dibber, pencil or chopstick to help free roots from the compost. Fill a small pot with compost and make a hole in the centre. Hold the seedling by its first pair of leaves, and gently lower the roots into the hole. Firm the seedling in and give it a gentle watering to settle the compost. Never hold a seedling by the roots or new leaves as you could cause lasting damage. TOP TIPUse children's tools if you struggle to bend down to use hand trowels and forks - they have long handles and are light.FROGS are regular visitors to healthy ponds
YOUR PROBLEMS SOLVEDISTOCKspring/summer 2012 www.dobbies.com 335top tips for buying new plantsQ I feed the birds regularly in the winter months and wondered if it's important to continue in the summer? Rachel Adams, AberdeenYes. Birds rely on the food gardeners provide and you should never stop feeding them. High-protein foods are important in the summer, along with sunflower seeds, raisins and mealworms. Avoid peanuts as they can damage nestlings.STRAWBERRIES are easy to grow at homeONE. Look for bushy plants with lots of buds - these are usually the most healthy specimens.TWO. Keep an eye out for plants that have the potential to be split or divided - this way you can get two for the price of one.THREE. Always remember to read labels and check if plants are suitable for your garden.FOUR. Buy a plant when it's in flower - that way you know what to expect.FIVE. Take advantage of special multi-buy deals to get more for your money.HANGING BASKETS are perfect for brightening up a wallQI love fresh strawberries - are they difficult to grow at home? Joe Brown, PeterboroughAStrawberries are easy to grow. Buy young plants now, plant them in containers or the ground, and wait for them to grow and produce fruit in the summer - it's that simple. Watch out for birds as fruits develop, placing scarers and deterrents around your plants to ward them off. Strawberries produce new plants called 'runners' after they fruit. Pot the runners into small containers, and grow them on ready to plant next year - this is a great way to get a harvest for free. Give spare plants to friends and family. QHow do I keep my hanging baskets looking good for the entire summer? Steve Willis, GlasgowAAdd slow-release fertiliser and water-retaining crystals at the time of planting, as this will keep blooms healthy throughout the summer. Once planted, make sure the compost in your baskets never dries out (this could mean watering every day in hot conditions), and remove spent blooms regularly - this will encourage more flowers to grow. Remove baskets from their hooks or brackets in windy conditions to prevent them being damaged.