growing your own fruit, veggies and herbs getting dirty and generally living the good life

Homebase Grow My Own Bunny Tails Seed Kit

What on whoever you might worships earth has this got to do with landscaping, you may ask. More than you might think Mary Lou is my response.

Last week Ella was 2 years old and one of her loverly Aunties and Uncles got her a Homebase Grow My Own Fluffy Tails Kit. For her birthday present. Moving on…

If you’ve never seen one before, it’s a bit like a Pot Noodle. Microwave gardening as I like to call it. I don’t know how much they cost. Never mind that, far more momentous than that and more to the point, it was and always will be the first seeds Ella, my daughter planted. As a by the way, my first were radish, they were with my Pop and I was 5.

Back to it, journeys, the best ones, especially in gardening matters are always about people and how you got there, together. In context, the thought crossed my mind that I should spend time with my daughter doing what my horticultural brain knows could take 2 minutes. Much more illogic and happy-er in your nappy however is to do it over a full hour singing along to a musical tea pot.

I’m sure there’s some disclaimer saying that these things are for a certain age and that people with nut allergies shouldn’t eat compost or words to that effect. In reality, if you’ve never sown seeds before, irrespective of age, these kits make it so very simple. It even comes with instructions.

Compost firmed, I chose not to cover the seeds at all and also to fill the outer pot about half way up with water [see: capillary action] before placing the black liner pot inside. With the lid on top and a bright kitchen window, we had seeds germination more than evident after 8 days [see below pic].

Being that Ella is only 2 and the scattering of seeds evenly is not a forté of hers as yet, I used the wee trowel that came with her gift [sold seperately] to place the seeds on first and then let Ella push them in. She We knocked it all over a few times and the place did look like a compost convention for some of the afternoon, but it still made us both smile ~ and that is always a good thing.

Note: The seeds are that of the Lagurus ovatus, commonly known as Bunny Tails. Quite an easy plant to grow, it will grow far taller than 50cm in height ~ it’s a bit like a miniature pampas grass [Cortaderia selloana] if you’ve never seen it before. That in mind, you will need to seperate the clump they will form and transplant them outside once they get going… my next thing to do with my daughter. And then I’ll revamp the entire of my own garden again so that there’s a spot ready for the very first plant that Ella grew – and that’s what this post has to do with landscaping.

After that I’ll have to go and plant some in Grandad and Grandmams garden, that is some of that first plant that Ella ever grew. And then it will make them smile too and that’s nice. And that’s more landscaping than maybe you thought when you started to read this post.

Happiness. Perspective. Love it 😉

Glasshouse Early Potatoes, Home Guard

It’s quite important for gardeners to be able to compare how’s yer man’s doing versus your own. In the very nicest way of saying, at least it is for me. On that note this quick video was recorded Monday 9th in a friend of mines glasshouse in North County Dublin. The variety of spud is Home Guard.

I have grown my own spuds before. Inside and out. Never in raised beds. For tidyness sake, sometimes in pots. But, maybe blessed by where I live geographically, the people I know and the things I do in my spare time that are guaranteed to be garden related in some format or other, I’ve decided not to grow them this year.

Being quite honest, 10kg of Roosters costs about €3 off any supermarket shelf and I eat potatoes them by the truckload. In context 10kg might do me for weeks, at a push. And I simply cannot grow them quick enough to fill my belly. That is very simply the logic behind it.

Below is Damian, in one of the fields not too far away from my house. We were checking the field grown spuds. As one does on your weekends 😉

field of potatoes

My Rhubarb: The First Crop of 2012

I’ve fond 1980’s memories of the ash from the old coal fire ending up on top of our stools. They sat in the top right hand corner next to the compost heap. The stools that were never split in their life time and such were their notoriety I doubt a specific book in the local library even existed on them.

Sometimes it is good to remember just how simple it can be be. But and on the other hand I spent eons reading up, cropping, planting, re-reading and forcing in my horticultural college days. Science and arts aside, if you want to give this quasi tomato-esque fruity vegetable a go, it just doesn’t get much easier than this.

Of note and on a side not is it’s similarity in appearance to the plant Gunnera. I have more than once hands worth of fingers used it is normal garden design, where a designated vegetable garden was not wanted for.

Back to it and my tips: Buy your stools well. Plant it. Never feed it. Ignore and neglect it. Pick it when you see it and have a mug of coffee next to it before you go to work. Sometimes I have a wee chat with mine. Planted in the darkest, dampest patch of my garden, this variety is Timperly Early. Enjoy 😉

rhubarb

Myth: Grow Your Own And Save Yourself Money

grow your own and save money image courtesy artofmanliness.com

[image courtesy artofmanliness.com]

I have heard too many green companies people for far too much of the what can only now be described as the grow your own pandemic use the cliché:

Grow Your Own and Save Yourself Money

The question is, does it ? Does growing your own vegetables actually save you money ?

superquinn vegetables

A quick glance between Superquinn’s prices [correct as of 05/01/12] and what potato seed and onion sets [2011 prices] cost make me wish to mildly scratch my head, a lot.

I and you can figure the maths out on an abacus.

seed potato onion sets

note: All prices from supermarket websites were taken January 5th 2012 and show their normal prices before and after discount. To the potatoes alone, I know I was able to buy 10kg for €2.49 in Dunnes Stores up until recent.

lidl carrots b and q grow your own kit

I had noted the B and Q grow your own kits way back in 2009. But it seem how we grow our own has evolved so much more, or at the very least the range of products available to you to do so has.

[image courtesy edibleherbsandflowers.blogspot.com]

If we trail all the way back to 1917, the cliché may make a little more sense. Here it’s slightly more honest in todays relevance and notes ‘to cut food costs’. That however was a time long before compost at €4-7 per bag ever existed.

I spoke before about the gentleman I witnessed in the hardware superstore buying organic compost with miraculous powers [4 bags @ 6 euro each] one pot [15 euro] and non-organic seed potatoes [6 euro]. Throw in some raised vegetable beds instead if you should like – and you possibly have the most expensive spuds per kg in the country.

Back to the original question. Can growing your own save you money ? Personally, I believe it depends on how you [in this case] grow your own.

potato planting by hand

There is a bigger picture in all of this. And if like camping in 1980’s Ireland and Britain and its recent revival, the trend is to continue I believe the PR firms need to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new slogan.

Maybe it’s just that as a 6 year old in Ireland in 1982 I chose to spend my pocket money on garden sieves as versus growing mediums, at a time when gardening wasn’t very popular and I was cutting grass to supplement my hobby – how times haven’t changed.

But from then til now aged 35 – I don’t believe my personal life outdoors [to an extent] and gardening has ever been about how much it cost me to enjoy my passion. It was more about who I spent the time with and in a different context, in my working life, what had or can be been achieved. Most of the time however it’s simply because I love what I do – and equally as important – I get to smile doing it.

ireland outside

Hyacinth, Daffodil and Gigantic Onions. January Gardening.

giant onions

Whilst my garden needs a total overhaul to cheer up the Donegan household at the start of what promises to be another great year, I thought maybe I should do something to make an even greater smile come to those who visit my home.

Don’t get me wrong I’m halfway there as my hyacinths are just peeping into flower ready to scent the house with all its glory. When that goes I will of course have my daffodils ready to come on as well and fill the kitchen with even more colour.

Mammoth Onion Growers unite (mp3)

But have you ever tried growing mammoth or giant onions ? Onions, edible and all – but – they can grow bigger than footballs and up to 15lbs in weight. Take a listen….

As a by the way hyacinth were the first ever bulb I grew at about 6 years of age. the bulb cost me 7 pence. I remember being told manure was good fertiliser. I spent ages collecting and covering that bulb in dogs doo [?]. Back to the giant onions ?

Want to give it a go….. ? Just let me know 😉

hyacinth flower donegan landscaping dublin