free advice for the great outdoors – if its not here – tell me

photosynthesis – a useful equation

photosynthesis: n [in plants] the process by which a green plant uses sunlight to build up carbohydrate reserves.

photosynthesis

photosynthesis

it is so to speak plants using the suns light to make its own food. It is that simple… ? The equation above basically says that if a plant takes in carbon dioxide [6CO2]/ air + [6H2O] water — in the presence of sunlight and chlorophyll— plants get glucose [C6 H12 O6] and a by product of oxygen [602].

chlorophyll:the green colouring matter of plants, which enables them to convert sunlight into energy

The understanding of this equation is of great benefit. Because we know that plants and trees can convert carbon dioxide into oxygen; We understand what plants need to live and how they do it and surpringly possibly that I should say, but we also know that with the elimination of any one part of the equation that energy production fails and the plant of course, dies.

weed: a plant growing in a place where it is not wanted

Less we forget, the plant kingdom also contains weeds. That a plant requires light and water to grow is quite obvious. However outside it is difficult to keep water from any plant, but, if we block out the light we now know we can prevent any plant from living.

Green fingers?

arctotis-x-venidioarctotis-flame

arctotis-x-venidioarctotis-flame

activity in the garden this month…

gat the garden in groove...

get the garden in groove...

need some effin direction...

need some effin direction...

You may think there is little to do in the brrrr freezing cold this January. But, it is what you do now that will prove so fruitful in a few months time. Aside from the aesthetic gains to be reaped and after listening to RTE1 for too long recently – where the news, primetime and even the weatherman depressed me – I realised we all need something to smile about. I had to get outside.

But there is also another [moreso recently more serious] side to gardening and that is of keeping active. According to one report, if maintained for at least 30 minutes gardening can be so beneficial. They say…

  • Digging the garden burns between 150 and 200 calories per half hour
  • using a push mower burns 180 calories in women in half an hour and 240 calories in men, while using a motor mower it drops to 135 and 180 calories each.
  • planting, pruning and trimming flowers, shrubs and trees gives a moderate workout, burning 135 calories in women and 180 in men in half an hour.
  • weeding might be the scourge of most gardeners, it burns off 140 calories in women and over 180 in men per half hour
it's not a total dead end...

it's not a total dead end...

So having dusted down those tools and psyched yourself; having saved your petrol money so as you might drive to the gymnasium and having sold those spandex tracksuits 😉 here’s what you can do

  • trees, trees, trees – the best time to plant bare roots and rootballs types as they’re still dormant. They’re also great value.
  • tree’s, the Christmas tree – it could sit there for ages. Recycle it!
  • weeds – start doing it now. [see above]
  • mulch – i find it warms my hands! Buy it loose or by the metre cubed. It’s better value.
  • tree’s – adjust those straps and buckles. Not too loose mind you.
  • hedging – bareroots are still available – plant them now.
  • fertilise – yes fertiliser. If you use a slow release version [not 10:10:20 style] you can apply it now as you are planting or as you are mulching.
  • buy Grandma’ a rose plant – and pot it up yourself. Great value and she’ll love you for it
  • edging – re-edge those beds. Use a length of timber to stop damage on the lawn if necessary
  • prune – remove any dead or diseased wood from your trees
  • fruit – trees [more] are always good
  • vegetables – plan your plot for the new year – now!
  • birds – fill the feeders
  • garden hygiene – a good garden ‘spring clean’ so to speak is always necessary. It prevents a build of pests and diseases.
  • planting now means no watering – good for the environment

However, if you’re like my Dad 😉 you’ll probably just do the 30 mins and leave the rest to someone else….. That said, a great time to get a head start is now. Enjoy 🙂

start now & add that little groove into yours...

start now & add that little groove into yours...

good topsoil

...angels dust!

...angels dust!

If you are buying topsoil – buyer beware – this really is a case of cheaper can often be more tearful than cheerful. Buy from a reputable source and before it is tipped in you’re driveway… jump in and have a rumage around.

The [generally speaking] golden rule for good topsoil is the darker the colour [ie. on a scale of concrete block to peat briquette – the closer it is to brown/ black the better]. The second rule is that it should not be overly clumpy and stick in lumps [too much] to the soles of your shoes when you walk on it [ie. it should be akin to walking on a sandy/ yet soily beach-ish], but colour generally tells so much.

Whilst I admit I do have a funny way of describing things, you can *see* what I’m saying…?

notice the difference in colour?

notice the difference in colour?

Poor soil, means longer labour hours and when the 20 tonne load – approximately 800 wheelbarrows – has to be moved by wheelbarrow and loaded by hand, believe me paying €50-100 euro more for you’re product, is [when you know what you’re getting] well worth it. As a rule of thumb, good soil should cost about €350-400 per load.

That said one can go a stage further and buy a graded mix topsoil or compost which comes in large bags. Expect to pay €150 per tonne approximately. This is a lot more expensive but – depending on the task at hand – it might just be the one for you. Sometimes 20 tonne is just too much and a load delivered – no matter the size – is a load delivered. That said, the pre bagged mix also allows you to calculate exactly where you want it placed and calculate.

In all things soil, remember it can often cost more to get it removed!

good gardens, good planning

garden planning and tree planting

garden planning and tree planting

If one is thinking of where to start in a garden… at the top is usually a good place! In good gardens, good planning is everything. One can have anything they want and at anytime, but, when it comes to working with the seasons this is where one gets the most from their budget.

As I have said so many times, its not what you have – it’s what you do with it.

To analagise, one does not decide to buy Christmas presents on Christmas day. With regard to tree planting and garden planning – if this is something you could consider – one should begin that process now. The tree season of better value is almost upon us. Approximately eight weeks away and the greatest gardens are always made with great planning.

As a rule of thumb of when to plant bare roots and root balls its when the trees lose their leaves and go into a wintering state. But first of course we’ve got beautiful autumn to come when all the leaves are brown…

fertilising lawns…

...

Yesterday and today saw a battered lawn take a spoon full of sugar. Oh yes! Caculated green back to perfection time is 4 weeks.

The days of the old 10:10:20 fertliser have passed however – For the times they are a changin’ – I’m not saying they’re defunct just passed – for me. In horticulture, the science of, where time management is concerned – is so important whilst inceasing quality – in this case this is a revelation [that’s been here for a while].

I’ve used a slow release fertiliser [like osmocote but for lawns]. Briefly, its’s like an M&M sweet[?!] – the outer coat contains the feed within – if the plant [grass in this case] grows at 12-14 celcius then the feed releases – when temperatures go below that – it stops… put simply.

..

The ‘old way’ meant if it rained the fertiliser may be leeched through the soil and therefore had little or no effect. I’ve used Scotts Sierrablen range 14:5:21 + 2MgO which slowly releases feed over a 4-5 month range. This is where intelligence saves money. The feed does cost a little extra but the time saved and moreso only having to treat it once per growing season-ish is partly why.

The spreader [modelled by my good buddy Adam] is really cool. This one has a handle on one side [left as you look] which if pulled prevents it from going to that side. The importance here is that the fertiliser for the lawn is not that which would suit a fruit tree. Hence the name – edgeguard!

The pull handle in the middle means it doesn’t release feed unless you want to… little or no waste.

The green ‘bit’ between the handle and the holder sets the rate of output. A genius invention and so simplistic.

God – if I was getting paid for product placement I’d be worth a fortune… but, the truth is, as much as the people of Memphis believe that Elvis is The King of Rock and Roll – the reality is, there is not much competition to disprove or disagree. The people of Scotts have a really good product. It’s not that I prefer it. It is simply a good product.

If you are spreading – reduce the rate by half. Push in straight lines up and down – and then – go across left to right – normal output rates still apply. Application rates do vary but it’s recommended at 25-40gramms per metre squared. If you’re unsure do a trial run first [I insist!!] or you’l end up with variance in the lushness of your greens. Enjoy!

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