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The Cheaters Guide To Growing Your own

It is a question that comes up a lot…. Mainly from people who have a job, 42 kids, a life, a dog and a door bell. A lot of which will fit into the category of

I’ve got maybe 10 minutes in the evening. It’s not enough time! what can I do to grow my bits, something, anything, in the garden… ?

I’m not going to write some big bible crapola on what you can do. This post is put simply what I am doing. What I planted last year and what takes little or no effort.

I’m going to split this post into four parts. Tall, medium and small – plant them and walk away and the bit you could potentially call farming.

The first is what for me was and is an investestment, of sorts.

It’s the fruit trees and the like. They are planted once. Paid for once and require very little attention thereafter. You see the fruit. You pick the fruit. You eat the fruit.

I have written many times on trees in this blog. The how to plant will never change. It’s what you plant that’s important. The key is to chose the tree to fit the space from an eventual size, growth per annum and type of fruit you want.

I personally have 10 eating apples, 5 cooking apple, 5 pear and 5 edible cherry trees. But don’t let that impress you. I have experimented with some fig, apricot and olive trees but really, you should just choose what you like in the amount that will suit you and the type. There’s some maintenance in everything [even tarmacadam], but it’s minimal if you do your homework. Here’s five you can try that will give you a return pretty soon. In your case – just remember there’s usually a reason why a tree will be cheaper. Buy once. And buy very well.

In this category

  • apple trees
  • pear trees
  • plums
  • apricot
  • cherries

The second group don’t grow as tall and are really great in small spaces, balconies and apartments and as with the trees, can all be planted in pots, if you wish.

Once again the same rules apply. You plant the fruit, pick it – when it appears and then eat it. Some say the rhubarb needs the stools split, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. Similarly the bushes will need some select pruning the same as the taller trees… but not much. The correct purchase should mean a handful of clippings as versus a trailer load. Once again. Buyer be [very a]ware.  But once and buy well. It will pay you back.

  • blackberries
  • rhubarb
  • gooseberries
  • bay laurel
  • red currants

The third lot are the lower growers and in fairness if you have a set of pots and pans your regular picking will be all the pruning it needs.

This plethora, for me include

Not much to it after that… and not much more to say being quite fair.

The last lot is something I don’t really want to list and require a little or a lot more attention.

But if you have any amount of category 1 and/ or 2/3 in your space you already look green. So now you can choose less of these babies depending on the time limit you have. If you’ve been following Philips 3 square metre farm patch on the podcast – you’ll have a better idea of where I’m going with this. Moreseo, you’ll better appreciate why I agree that 3 square metres is more than enough to keep your home filled with produce.

Last year I grew the following – and more – but I won’t bore you with the gory details and will tell you the ones I found the easiest. I grew all of these in old pots, pint glasses, window boxes or whatever could contain some amount of soil as a by the way.

The reason these are in a group all of their own is because unlike the other groups… with this final batch – once you crop it or it comes to the end of the season you must start all over again the following year and grow them again – where the others generally speaking – just keep on giving.

What about that for a relationship. I ignore you for an entire year. And then you arrive at my home and say

….here ye go buddy, have a big box of juicy apples

Ah sometimes I’m just so ruddy hilarious I crack myself up 😆

So I could have put the image of the seedlings at the top and told you of my years of studying horticulture – but being really honest this post is about encouraging those who aren’t so green who’d love a dabble and would maybe like to look a bit greener. In that same breath it’s not rocket science. And anyone who tries to tell you different is full of it.

You don’t need an allotment, an acre or a garden [Great for you if you do]. You need a window ledge, or a balcony or a small patio – maybe it’s some jam jars or 2 hanging baskets – and you also need an ability to smile, because sometimes a plant simply decides it doesn’t feel like growing where you want it grow. The it’s not you it’s me scenario. But ultimately, one should remember any plants sole purpose on this planet is to reproduce and as long as you understand that – it will do what it’s supposed to do.

For this gardener, I’ve never bought super dooper compost, a propagator kit or miraculous growing fertilisers. Ever. Not for food crops.  In fact I’ve never even bought a soil testing kit. I give all of my plants no special treatment.

What I will say is I maybe have a better understanding of plants and a happy confidence in the fact that it will grow. But…. any gardener that says they know it all and has never got it wrong is most likely in a straight jacket. That said, I still talk to all of my plants. I play the vinyl player when I am gardening in my spare time and most important of all I enjoy it.

Back to it, last week I planted onions and garlic. More importantly, as I said in the post the growing season [for 2011] has officially started

The problems that usually arise, garden wise, are best described with hindsight being that of 50:50 vision, in the context that once one sees the plant in its fullest glory one may wish they had planted some of this or that, that could only be there if planted some months previous.

For now, it is February. For your garden, patch or space – Go forth – give it a lash. Let me know how you get on. If you do have any problems…. I’m here for you when and if you need me. Don’t forget to smile. 🙂

Garden Containers, Pots and Planters

For those looking for that instant effect, immediate colour or simply a softening of your space outdoors, sometimes the simplest way to achieve this is through instant gardening. How it works is very simple.

  • Planters are pre-made off site with a pre-selected choice of best look plants
  • Hand picked to suit your favourite colours and textures
  • And chosen with only your business and/ or home in mind
  • Carefully positioned, delivered and placed right at your door or place of choice

In this, plant choice will and can vary from individual to business and from desired placing to season. I have personally found that most choose the following:

  • Mildly scented yet neutral in colour on business/ office entrances
  • herb, salad or/ and fruiting choices by kitchen and eating areas
  • stunning, attractive and stand out for openings, ceromonies and occasions
  • pretty, instant and welcoming by dwelling and homely places

landscaping dublin

Planting style aside, in your space you may decide on choosing the following containers

  • hanging baskets
  • window boxes
  • pots and planters
  • raised beds
  • something that little more unusual
  • or a one off just for you

Of course this can be tailored once again to suit your specific space and all fixtures and fittings can be supplied and fitted. I personally like the fact that, if you do feel that after some time that you need that little change…

  • not all plants or any [depending on what you choose] will need to be replaced
  • the planters won’t need to be replaced at all
  • and the same planters can simply be painted a different colour

Although some do choose to ask for something that mild bit different and one off in general most types, styles and wishes can be discussed and ordered by phone or email and designed/ pre arranged to suit your budget. After that, you simply continue on about your daily routine and let me look after the dirty work.

What do you do next….

You can contact me in the  following ways:

  • send an email to info@DoneganLandscaping.com
  • telephone me direct on 087-6594688
  • or enquire via the contact page on DoneganLandscaping.com

No matter how unusual the request may be….. I can make it happen for you.

Garden Maintenance

I have been maintaining gardens since before I was a teenager and after 10 years in business garden maintenance is still one of the services that I pride myself on. In 2007 I won the overall ALCI award for garden maintenance – in this case it was a private garden.

I provide both commercial and domestic garden maintenance outside of and including Dublin.

I find that it is the preparation prior to any gardening works taking place that ensures the relationship between you and I works best and also guarantees the best results from your budget and the time I spend with your space outdoors.

Garden Maintenance can be done by way of the following:

  • a one off garden visit
  • regular scheduled garden visits

Within a one off visit you may simply require a good honest tidy over of your space  to give it a lift for the upcoming season or you may simply require a more manicured approach to an existing outdoors to get it back to its finest appearance once again. Others simply require a helping hand to get the garden back on its rightful course where it has been let go for some time.

Services for regularly scheduled and one off visits also include:

  • additional planting to suit the season or for additional colour
  • mulching of beds and play areas
  • fertilising programme for trees, shrubs or lawns
  • grass cutting of open areas or small spaces
  • hedge cutting and shrub pruning
  • tree services
  • weed control in lawns or through existing planting and borders

Whilst some wish to complete the garden maintenance tasks themselves one can also get that little added direction and consultation. In this regard, garden maintenance schedules, checks and calenders can be put in place to suit your specific space in the great outdoors if required.

If you would like to talk with me about garden or grounds maintenance you can as always contact me via the following options.

  • by email info@doneganlandscaping.com
  • via this website: click the contact page
  • call mobile – o876594688

My qualifications:

  • Certificate in Commercial Horticulture (1996)
  • General Examination in Horticulture – Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
  • Advanced Diploma in Commercial Horticulture (1998)

Strawberry Plant Babies

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It can really get on my goat when the grow your own and save yourself money marketing brigade continue to thrust their [not so] ideal[s] upon the ordinary Joe punter gardener. Let me put this in context, when a bag of compost costs €6 and the strawberry plants cost €3 and you or I may get less than a punnet of fruit…. That would cost about €3 anyway…. My point ? Logic. Versus that, maybe I’m the muppet and the marketing garden guru’s are the smarty pants ?

The alternative versus that, is when you can get your plants for free and maybe three or four strawberries per plant…. now we’re sucking diesel 😀 and now the grow your own is saving us some money.

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These plants are exactly that. Free. Or at the very least starting to pay for themselves.

What happens is very simple. And in simple terms, little runners are sent out by the mother plant with, what were described to me along time ago as umbilical chords and plants on the end of them 😉

Read this post for further ‘botanical’ information on the Strawberry plant.

There are loads of shoots on my plants at the moment, but I’ve tended to only pick the ones with some roots on the end. The photograph at the top had landed itself in with the turnips and hence the roots, but from then on a closer inspection is required.

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I very simply pinched out the central buds, if there were any and popped them into a wee little pot of compost.

From there they went into the greenhouse and apart from a little throw my eye over them now and again, they should be just fine.

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Short and sweet as it sounds that’s my strawberries looked after for next year.

Let me know how you get on. Any problems just leave a comment below.

A Gardening Course …?

update 13th March 2010: One space has become available… pop your name down below, email or text me if your interested 🙂

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Over the last weeks I’ve been researching chatting with some friends about gardening and the usual how to bits of outdoor advice.

From those conversations came the suggestion that I should do a crash course of some format in ‘gardening‘.

I did teach horticulture and courses before. But this class request or what one should get at the end of it is to be slightly different as those urging me to do so are not horticulturalists – moreso they have a window ledge/ balcony or only wish to garden in small amounts and stints.

The outcome…? Either a one day course in gardening at my homestead or a 1.5 hour evening course in Dublin City Centre over a 3/4 week period. The majority in this case decided on a one day workshop.

To tailor make this session to the people and their wants I am proposing the following:

  • a one day crash course from 9.30am – 3.30pm
  • The first day/ date is Saturday March 20th
  • cost of materials only to be covered set at €60 per person
  • you take home what you make on the day
  • lunch will be included
  • to take place in Ballyboughal [it’s near Swords/ North Dublin 😉 ]
  • numbers will be limited to a maximum 8 people only

What we will achieve on the day:

  • gardening basics
  • how to grow your own from seed
  • growing plants on a budget
  • window ledge balcony gardening
  • looking after your plants
  • planting your planters
  • growing in a confined space
  • not enough hours in the day/ the 10 minute gardener
  • herb and salad kitchen gardening

this email just came in and sums it up nicely….

Basically: this is for the [wo]man, parent, adult, child who wants to do a bit of green living but not farming. Enough to have summer salads, fresh herbs, maybe even some fruit – at the same time logic enough that you’ll watch footie/ daytime tv and go out rather than hug trees. You’d like a bit of green, you need a place to start but without getting bamboozled – and let it grow from here….

The idea is simple enough and if numbers run over/ demand is great enough/someone approaches me with a suggestion I’ll do a second class/ consider those options then.

If you would like to do this class – or – have any queries or suggestions

  • pop your name down as a comment below
  • email me info[at]doneganlandscaping[dot]com
  • telephone me on [vodafone prefix – and then] 6594688

What do you think …..?

UPDATE:

If numbers fill up for the first group of 8…. assuming there is demand enough – I will do another day course. Put simply I’ll let the names spill over to a second group of 8 and we’ll call it from there. Crawling versus walking and all that cliché stuff 😉

Once again – your course/ class made better by your suggestions…. pop them in comment box below 🙂

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