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Garden Talks: Greensax Compost For Schools

greensax, compost for schools

It was towards the end of the schools calender that I did a series of composting garden talks with some of Dublin’s Primary Schools in association with Greensax.ie

Lasting 20 – 25 minutes I explained what happens to our green waste after the wheelie bin is taken away and how en mass, what happens in a normal compost heap is replicated. On a side note, the images of the maggots and the worms always got a yukky but brilliant reaction from the younger generation and some of the teachers.

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the umberella plant…?

My oldest brother came home from college one day with one of the little arrangements you get at Christmas time. My oldest sister bought it one day with her friend. πŸ˜€ anyhoo onto the plant….

I would have been about 9 years old I’d guess. Anyhow, the wee thing grew too large for the wee pot it was in and in the process it needed to be repotted.

At the time, I lined the inside of an old timber box and filled it with some compost. 23 odd years laters….my Mom gives it back to me!

The compost was absolutely spent and inert. It was merely a brown granule. The plant had grown long legged and the leaves fell off at a mere draft touching it.

It needed a new lease of life. I gave it one.

I ‘was told’ it was the umberella plant. I disagreed. I looked up the umberella plant in some of my reference books and came up with Schlefflera actinophylla…. so not far off the mark to be quite honest. But that’s a little akin to asking for ‘a Donegan’ and taking the one you thought looked like me – but it’s not ‘Donegan Peter’…. I hope that makes sense.

This plant is the Schefflera Gold Capella.

The foliage/ leaves are glossy green/ yellow variegated and palmate compound with 7-9 leaflets. Height & spread is a max of 10′. It rarely produces flowers.

They will grow in partial shade or good light and can survice well with irregular watering [if you are of a forgetful nature]. If you do need to repot should do so whilst its not producing new growth. Propagation is generally done by cuttings.

It’s a little naked at the moment. It’s just moved house, been amputated, shook around, trimmed and snipped… so it looks a little shaken… but it’ll be fine. I promise πŸ˜†

UPDATE: since writing this post about 2 months ago the last three images show the new growth that has appeared since it was repotted… and all the old coffee grinds I have thrown out on the top of the compost.

How To Water Seeds

To some how does one water seeds may seems like a silly question…. but to others it is the very simple things that most often are not explained due to assumption… more so on the horticulturists part. Try find any gardening book with how to water in the title….?

But, for years as a nipper I crushed and broke weak seedlings with large droplets from a watering can…. and it being the start of the growing season this dilemma has resurrected itself.

If you are sowing your seeds in trays that have perforations/ drainage holes on the base then we are in luck.

With your compost in the tray, slightly firmed…. place your seeds as preferred and drop the tray into a large container of water. As you can see here I have made really great use of my green bin that I did not want. You can of course use your brown bin if you wish

Capillary action [as it is called] is the process which will ensure the water is drawn up all by itself. You will see the compost turn from a dry brown to a wet dark black. Be careful here not to let the tray sink to the bottom and lose all your seeds… watched pots and kettles may come to mind but patience is the key. As soon as you see water just appear at seed level… you’re good to go. You can repeat his process as long as is necessary and as long as your seeds need to be in the plug tray.

If however your container does not have perforations… this is were it can get tricky.

These [left] are the ones I sowed for indoors. I don’t want drainage holes on them, because, they’ll leak all over the window ledges. And I can’t steep them… so…

The answer is to water the soil very well before putting my seeds on top. If I chose not to the compost bubbles up over the seeds and the seed sinks somewhere within the pile of mush πŸ™‚

Watering of these is then done very gently. I myself like to used to use a Mr Sheen/ windowleen type misting bottle [you can’t go wrong this way] and wet them as necessary. Or I pour from a very small jug of water into my hands, held over the container and let the water trickle through my tightly gripped fingers.

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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the farmers markets…?

serenity...

serenity...

my reasons for starting Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd are probably quite different to those of most in business [?] to be very honest. But as I have said recently it always comes back to the fact that I love what I do.

With that in mind, I was thinking that maybe the Donegan Landscaping team might do the Farmers Market. Not so much to earn enough money to retire [humour…?!!], but moreso to go back to the reason why I started. I’ve no plans in place, nothing ready, not even a venue – I simply mentioned it to the team at our weekly meeting. The guys seemed quite enthusiastic about the whole thing! Which is really good πŸ™‚

So I said I’d put it to the people and see what the thinking was. The poll is below and if you’d like to [go a stage further] leave a comment, one can do so below.
Many thanks in advance, Peter.