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Donegan Wins Landscape Quality Award For 2010

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February 26th 2010.

Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd has achieved the Bord Bia Quality Award.

The assessment for this award is through a stringently audited programme that was designed to raise standards within the landscape industry and increase customer confidence by rewarding companies who operate an awarded quality system through best practice and at the highest standards possible to this sector of the horticultural industry.

In 2009 the Landscape Quality Award had only been achieved by eight companies in Ireland. There are two award levels on both programmes; a Certificate of Merit (60% score) and the Quality Award (75% score). This is my third consecutive year to accept the Quality Award.

On winning the award Peter Donegan said:

I am delighted to win this award. I am now starting my 10th year in business and this now is recognition that a quality system is in place behind the scenes as well an already proven ability to design and landscape.

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Which Compost To Buy

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Buying compost for some, is possibly a little like me trying to figure which washing powder I am supposed to put in the supermarket trolley. 😉 It wasn’t always like that….

I couldn’t believe it when in the garden centre recently the amount of types variations in labells one could buy. It’s seemed extremely confusing to be quite honest.

I remember still, growing my first seeds with my grandfather and my second batch of seeds with my Dad. I would have been no more than 5 years old. This clap trap never existed. Never. It was a hand full of clay in a pot, possibly sieved and that was the end of it.

Golden rule number one: Do not get confused by what’s on the shelf. Gardening has been around for centuries and 150 years ago you couldn’t buy a bag of compost if you tried. Fact.

Before I go any further I must sidetrack, slightly so stay with me here: the pH scale is a range from 1 -14 which tells us how acidic or alkali [in this case] a soil/ compost is. For the moment/ example car battery acid would be on the lower end of the scale and milk would be on the higher end.

In theory, as it stands, almost all composts are peat [as in peat moss from a bog] based. Although the use of peat and amount of may change in the coming future. What one must appreciate is that peat has a low pH and is the basis for the making of almost all composts.

In basic compost terms there are two main types:

  • The first Ericaceous or acid loving – just two of the names it may come under and are pretty much peat mixed with a [slow release] fertiliser and a wetting agent. It comes with a pH of approximately 4.8.

Wetting agents are used because peat, when it dries tends to [kinda] combine, meet and muster itself together in one big clump. This is particularly visible in pots where it almost leaves a gap between itself and the container. When one tries to water and dampen the peat/ compost mass will simply float like a buoy or the water will just run off and down the sides.

  • The second type is compost. In any variation… from potting to multi purpose they are pretty much all the same. They are peat, mixed with a slow release feed and lime [or a substitute of some format] which will reduce the pH acidity.

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The only thing that differs [generally speaking] from the compost used for potting trees versus that used for eg in growing bedding plants is the particle size in the peat and the duration that the feed will last. ie. trees will prefer a chunkier particle and will remain in the compost longer where bedding plants will only last about three months plus and the compost must be almost sugar granule size.

For those not in the nursey trade attempting to grow prize crops… or to put in context when I am at home growing my salads and herbs I simply grab whatever is available and failing that a handful of clay from the garden. The only honest difference between the ‘muck’ in your garden and the bagged compost will be the consistency at which the plant will grow.

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As a by the way John Innes is a range of compost mixes. So if this multi purpose compost has added John Innes…. it’s either the man himself in there or [put in very simple terms…] it’s actually compost with added compost.

Technically you can call it something else. In the specialist nursery sector and prize winning plants one could argue…. But tell me I am wrong…?

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How To Stake And Strap A Tree

Following the pictures above…..

  • tree stake at the ready… place the stake [generally] 3 fingers width from the base of the tree and 2 fingers width from the top. Once you have your position correct… push it in slightly.
  • A tree stake pounder [the yellow object in the photographs] is preferable although you can use a sledge hammer. I find the sledge more often splits the stake and its also not very nice for Mary if she is the one holding it and you miss 😉
  • Drive your stake in until it’s sturdy, whilst along the way making sure its straight as it goes down.
  • There are many forms of straps and buckles available… but for my garden I generally but a roll of strap and cut to size. Always allow a little extra if you are unsure you can always cut a little bit off the end – you can’t however add a little bit on.
  • Wrap your strap around the tree and add the buckle on. Then pull really tight against the tree…. wrap one side around the stake and then double over the first piece.
  • With the tree now sturdy against the stake and the strap not moving…. get Mary [or someone else 😉 ] to lean agains the back of the stake and hammer a nail in. Always leave a little off the nail sticking out so it can be removed if you get it wrong or it needs to be adjusted in time as the tree grows. Be sure not to tie the tree too tight.
  • If you are doing trees in straight lines and you wish for them all to look nice and neat…. take a cane as an optimum measure of height, mark the tree stake and saw off at an angle.
  • A little tidy around the base and go and grab yourself a cuppa 🙂
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The Ladybird

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Coccinellidae or ladybirds as we know them are members of the beetle family, generally red with black spots head and antennae and can be anything up to almost half an inch in size. But with over 5,000 species they can also be any colour from yellow to black. The less prettier and often referred to a the mealybug Ladybird cryptolaemus montrouzieri should not be confused with the Coccinella septempunctata or what I should refer to as the common ladybird

The ladybird is most famed in horticultural terms for being predators or the boilogical control of the aphid [whitefly or greenfly] and they really are a gardeners friend. That said if you spoke to my niece Lilly… they are most famed to her because she had a pet ladybird once…. but it ‘flew away‘ 😉

Ladybirds and other garden predators are/ can usually be encouraged easily by having areas of undisturbed ground and also by the introduction of attractive flowers.

I spotted this guy above just sitting pretty whilst clipping some crataegus in the garden yesterday…. 😉



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Suggestions for 2010….?

The year 2009 [go take a look and come back….] saw me take on a very varying range of what some may call challenges. I’m wondering if 2010 will prove as much a challenge….?

Now is your chance to recommend, suggest or get in touch. Whether it be in the form of a landscape project, an event, writing, radio or even just something that you feel should be covered on the weblog….. or the garden group should visit

How to:

  • Leave a comment below
  • email info [at] doneganlandscaping [dot] com
  • or get in contact
  • or drop around for a decent cup of coffee
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