Posts

Plants. Watering. In Warm Weather

hand made bbq

A lovely image of my home-made barbecue to go with the audio.

Whilst the audio above discusses emergency water inducing measures. That aside and of note, there are some points to watch for. The first, silly as it may sound is compost drying.

compost dry

Compost is in short generally peat based, mixed with lime to raise the pH, a wetting agent and some plant feed. When it gets really dry, its colour changes from a wet black to a light woody brown ~ point of note numero uno.

More than that, the peat based product gels itself together and retracts away from the pot [see above]. You may need to ruffle the top of the growing medium [compost] before you soak it in water, but and as noted in the audio, by capillary action is the most efficient watering method.

donegan gardens

The semi- alternate to this is to be smart with your existing or new planting layout. The image above is from the courtyard garden I created some time ago now at Ché Max, Baggot Street. Plant choice decisions of note here, include the use of taller plants with a thin stem but a large bract/ head to create shading for the younger plants below. This therefore reduces the amount of light getting through to the soils surface and slowing evaporation. More than that it also reduces transpiration from the younger plants below.

glasshouse irrigation system phototropism

On a slight side note, in the last few extreme heat [for us pale and freckly Paddy’s] days I’ve noticed the phototropic effects on my younger plants in particular, that is the turning towards the stronger light just that little bit quicker than usual. Something I should note that might only happen if you left a plant in your north facing pantry.

If you do have window boxes, hanging baskets or the like, the best thing one can do is drop ’em straight into a large container of water and allow ’em to soak up exactly what they need water volume wise. Far, far better I think you’ll find that the water running down your arm and ruining that new frock you just bought. With that in mind, I did these window boxes for the wonderful folks at The Chilli Banana restaurant and I’m wondering how they are managing their watering, especially with customers walking by underneath. 😉

My advice, in a world gone all water conservation conversation, get two or three water butts and use the half wheelie bin approach. Keep an eye out for wilted plants. Super saturate your plants before planting, plant plan smart-er and make life a little less complex by allowing your planters soak it all up from below; all the while of course you being a lot greener. Water usage aside, it also leaves you with far more time to enjoy your space outdoors.

Any thoughts or comments ? Hit me on facebook, leave a comment below or pop me an email and I’ll note it this Friday on the garden radio show. In the meantime, enjoy the sunshine 😉

the sodshow

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. 🙂