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April In The Garden

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You’d know from the ‘March in the Garden’ post that I had just sown my seeds. Well germinated at this stage, the above photograph shows the results after just after 2 weeks. Growth is starting, slowly but surely and it seems to me we’re going to be on for a cracker of a season!

I’d like to try to try not to write about just growing your own… but when the garden centres now have entire sections dedicated to what I can only describe as a phenomenon, it might just prove a little more difficult than expected. That said, this isn’t your average ‘get out and rake your lawns’ type of a piece, it is was I will be doing this month.

Since last month, mainly due to doing the grow your own course I have now sown or started growing: seed potatoes, onion sets, lettuce, chives, parsley, coriander, spinach, basil, mustard, strawberries… the list is literally endless and in a few weeks I will be giving the stuff away at a rate of knots. The gig here is only to sow in small amounts and little by little. I don’t want to farm the land. And I need to ensure that I continue to enjoy what I have always done…. without it becoming laborious. I have but a wee 6′ x 4′ aged old glasshouse.

To other garden stuff. The weather has been tough and very unpredictable. As I write we had snow yesterday, 30th March. But there are more buds on the trees and some are literally on the verge of bursting.

The daffodils are also in bloom, not all, which is good as it means I’ll have flowers n the window for the first time this year and for a longer duration.

The lawn… don’t get me started. I’ve cut mine once this year. And that’ll be it until that drop of rain stops falling and temperatures start to rise to a consistent 12-14 Celsius. That said, I have been laying rolled lawns this year. Great from a clients and my perspective because there is no watering at all – where normally in ‘good’ weather the high temperatures and lack of water would cause shrinkage and watering would be recommended only at night time.

Outside of that all of the stuff I planted last year is doing great. The rhubarb in particular has just rocketed.

The hens are also back laying again after their winter sabbatical… which is great for baking. Yummy! I’m pretty much getting four eggs a day now. Outside of that there were some other creatures spotted recently around there… A good clean out was given, some bait was put down and the jack russell was let loose… I think this one [above] looks happier πŸ™‚

The only thing I would suggest you do not forget is tree planting season. The leaves are pretty much at bud burst point. And it is around this time that the race is on to get the final bit of the bare root and root balled chores complete. Thinking of buying a tree [?] at its best and best value… do so now.

Did I miss out on anything…. ? Leave a comment and let me know. That’s more than enough to keep you going for the bank holiday weekend πŸ˜‰ I leave you with this to ponder on….

What d’you think one would do with it….?Β  πŸ™‚

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straw grass…?

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I get loads of these…. some one liners…. some emails. Some without pictures But I try my best and quite enjoy answering them being honest πŸ™‚

Email in on Saturday from Melanie. πŸ˜‰

Hi Peter,

Thanks for this, myself and Alex are full of enthusiasm for the garden at the moment but neither of us have much of a clue πŸ˜‰
Alex was out doing a bit of a tidy up this morning and he noticed that we have climbers planted around our wall (they were planted just before we bought the house so no idea what they are), and now there seems to be loads of what looks like straw around the bottom of them all. We’ve no idea where it’s come from, and are a bit worried it might be a sign of mice. I don’t know if you can shed any light on it, but I thought I’d run it by you in case you’ve seen it before. I’ve attached 2 photos.
Thanks,

I responded with the following via twitter [it was saturday…. i was watching Ireland get beat by Scotland at rugby. It was easier πŸ˜‰ ]
I gave the following answers in 2 messages of less than 140 charachters:

hmmm. the plant is pyracantha. produces fruits and little white flowers – really cool and great for nature but thorny πŸ™‚

the dead grass is just that. may have been sprayed a while ago…. or not. just mow over it. not straw. all looks healthy

Problem solved.

As I said when asked about watering seeds…. maybe a simple answer to someone with horticultural qualification….? but then you probably don’t read this blog πŸ˜‰

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Other comments:

  • Yes you should no matter how silly ! πŸ™‚
  • maybe do a monthly online publication on issuu
  • You should use them for a column in a magazine / newspaper, like a gardening problem page.
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The Right Time To Grow

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With high day time temperatures, the sun factor increasing the warmth in the greenhouse well above the the teens and night time temperatures in the minus…. I could almost do a piece here on autumn colour but… it’s March and there are no leaves on the trees. So instead the resulting problem and piece is one of possible woe rather than beauty and colour.

I know that around 12 – 14 degree celcius is what makes [almost all] plants start to grow and the reason this is so important is that I’ve just started my seed growing for this year.

The temperatures in the greenhouse [as you can see above] are more than enough to make the seeds germinate. The problem is that when the little baby seedlings pop out from their store of food [the seed] the low temperatures at night time can come along and literally whack them.

In theory, the water in the plant cells expand when it freezes and this bursts the cells. Put simply the affected cells are dead. That’s not so bad if the plant is an established hedge but for a weakling and barely days old seedling with a very thin outer skin that is so easily penetrated, there is no way back.

I hear you say, I could have waited. Kept my eye on the calender or clock. Been a little more patient and waited a bit longer before I started my sowing campaign. I could even have bought myself a greenhouse heater…. but where’s the fun in that.

I’ve waited this long, this year, to get outdoors and get grooving in the garden… Similar to the Irish potato farmers and the season they’ve just had, I’ll take my [very well calculated] chances against the elements and hope I’ve simply got a head start. If it doesn’t work out… I’ll scatter my seeds and try again.Β  πŸ˜‰

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March In The Garden

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I haven’t done an ‘In the garden‘ session so far this year. Mainly because, well… I guess the snow, the rain, the cold and in such abundance just got a bit too much for me. Anyhow, that aside, it’s time to get grooving and moving and here is why and whatΒ  I will be doing in the garden this month.

The lime trees [image 1] are the greatest sign for me that life for this year is almost there. The burning red new stems and buds are so pretty. Loosen the straps, check the stakes and remove all the dead or diseased wood. This goes for all trees including the fruiting varieties. As you can see from my olive tree [image 2] that simply needs a little tidy and some select pruning but its not until we get to the smaller plants that some real work is required. The large window box which fed me with salad for all of last year [image 3] needs a total clean out. Very simply grub out all the old plants, but don’t throw out all the compost. Simply replenish.

The easy plants are the 3 just above, in order, rhubarb, sorrell and chives. Not a whole lot for me to do here just yet. They come up year after year. I may decide at a later stage to divide the chives and the rhubarb, but for the moment it’s simply a little taster of what nature is going to give me to eat this season.

The greenhouse has been pretty much empty since last year. It’s got a little grubby. The 2 dogs use it as a sun trap type conservatory and its very quickly transformed. Then its to my store of seeds to figure what I wish to grow for this season.

Potting table at the ready… this one above I made myself from an old pallet. It’s really durable and well able to withstand the elements. The window boxes are refilled. I’ve sown some spinach in here direct, which is not my usual way of doing it…. but lets see how they get on. The seed trays [my preferred method] are washed and filled, pre-soaked and in here I have sown coriander and chives.

That’s not all I have sown…. there are also some broad beans in liner pots [image 2 above] and anything else you can think of. There’s probably too much of everything in fact but, I live in a rural farming village so a lot of this will be bartered for bags of potatoes and other veg that I won’t grow πŸ˜‰ All things in order I just need to keep my eye on the max min thermometer for very low temperatures [early frosts] which may affect. As a by the way, I’m going to give it a little longer before I go and mow that lawn of mine.

Now I’ve got to go and give my chicken run a lick of paint. But that should easily keep you going for the next 3 weeks or so. See how you get on, any problems or queries you know where to come. Of course in gardening, there’s always an alternate πŸ˜‰

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Moving A Tree

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The weather outside for the last few months as long as I can remember now has been a disaster being quite frank.

The funny thing about horticulture however is that life simply goes on. And when one misses out on a time frame of the season….. one often has to wait until the following year to get that task done.

There is no greater seasonal example of this than trees.

About two years ago I planted about 140 trees in my garden. A few failed for various mechanical reasons… but some where planted just for the moment. They were always gonna have to be moved… this January was the time to do so.

Trees go dormant over winter. They lose their leaves. They go asleep for a few months [wouldn’t we all like that… πŸ˜‰ ] and come the rise in temperature is when they must awaken. So how many weeks do you have left to plant bare root and root ball trees or to move them….. ? As long as its cold outside is the short answer.To the point…..

You have a tree you want moved….

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The first question should you wish to do it yourself is could you lift this tree. If the answer is yes then proceed.

Remember if you lifted all of Dublin up and placed it in…. lets say Scotland [for the craic] would your tree be disturbed in its movement…. no. With that in mind dig as great a hole as you can around the base of the tree without disturbing the roots and then go under.

With a plastic bag – bark mulch bags split are usually quite durable lift the tree in one swift move from the hole onto the bag.

With your second hole already prepared…. drag the bag [ πŸ˜‰ ] rather than the tree to its new location.

After this the preparations are the very same to planting a tree. Go do it… hurry… you’ve not long left.