Gardening Classes, Garden Talks and Speaking 2012

peter donegan

Whilst my previous working life did include teaching horticulture, the last few years have seen that skill been recalled into action. Public gardening demonstrations, certificate classes to schools in Dublin, garden sessions with Fingal Libraries and talks to Gardening and Horticultural societies all took place throughout 2011.

Live in the heart of the Dublin City Centre, in a community hall, in the middle of a field or in the library – every venue and almost every possible topic was covered.

Bookings and inquiries are now being taken for 2012.

peter donegan television

Recent Examples of Garden Talks and Gardening Demonstrations:


  • I also run the Garden Group and am more than happy to chat garden tours and outings tailor-made to suit you, your needs and your group.

peter donegan peter donegan

For Your Event…

  • Public demonstrations and talks for events/ public or other can be done. Probably best you phone me on this one or drop by for that mug of coffee.
  • Got a random suggestion or query – just give me a call – see below for details.
  • Some inquiries have been made recently as to sponsoring products and/ or a course/ class. You’ll probably want to have a mug of coffee or call me first – I’m open to suggestions.
  • Anything else just ask

Contact Peter Donegan

  • email
  • call 087-6594688  if you don’t get an answer please do leave a message and I will call you back as soon as is possible. I am possibly up a tree and it may be dangerous to take your call at that time.
  • on facebook:

peter donegan peter donegan

peter donegan peter donegan

Fingal Independent – November 22nd

This article appeared in The Fingal Independent Tuesday 22nd November 2011:

Garden podcast puts Peter up for award


Tuesday November 22 2011

A BALLYBOUGHAL man is up for a national award for his Podcast that introduces the listener to the joys of gardening. Ace landscape gardner and community stalwart down Ballyboughal way is Peter Donegan and his popular podcast called The Sodshow is up for a national web award this year. Peter is the man behind and a great champion of life in Ballyboughal as well as an enthusiastic promoter of all things green-fingered. He is an award winning landscape gardener and designer with Peter Donegan Landscaping and has had several eye-catching exhibits at the Bloom festival. Apart from imparting his gardening wisdom on the Podcast, Peter has had more face-to-face encounters with budding horticulturalists in Fingal classrooms over the last few weeks. Fingal Libraries in conjunction with Peter Donegan are hosting a series of classes with primary school children to teach them the real facts of nature through October and November. The sessions cover topics such as gardening, water, the great outdoors, how plants make their own food and how we grow ours, fruit and vegetables, trees and flowers, making a living edible garden and staying green at home. The classes give the children the opportunity to get their hands dirty and do some planting themselves and at the same time have fun while exploring the natural world and biodiversity. The garden classes entitled, Adventures in Green Gardening, started Tuesday 16th October and run for six weeks. Even if you missed the classes, a list of books has been compiled by Peter Donegan and Fingal Libraries for children to read themselves and also a list of more detailed books for parents. All of the books are available from Fingal Libraries.


Growing Runner Beans

runner bean seedling

It almost felt like I was intruding peeling back the compost just so I could snap this seedling as it lost a little of its coat as it just sprouted its first leaf.

runner bean seed runner bean flower

The Phaseolus flowers are noted as being a favourite of the hummingbird and the runner bean noted for containing traces of the poisonous lectin, Phytohaemagglutinin, found in common beans.

runner bean pests runner bean leaf

The big problems I have suffered in the past with the Phaseolus coccineus [runner bean] have been from birds unearthing the seeds and running off with them and assuming I can get past that point and see the seed germinate – as you can see above left – it is snails and other varying pests that I must then deal with.

That said, I personally don’t like using chemical based products on any of my food crops and so in this case I’ll just have to hope that the plant can grow quicker than it can be eaten – it can by the way. The next step is to give them some support by way of canes or guiding wires.

Not to be confused with the broad bean, I’m possibly on the verge of pushing my luck with the Runner bean as regards publishing this post at this point of the season… but it’ll be here for next season and this is as they look in my garden now.

I did this video of how to sow seeds waaaaay back in June 2009. It just so happened at the time the seeds used were in fact runner beans. I have since gotten a haircut.

Sowing the Right Seeds

peter donegan

I went out looking for seeds this week, primarily as I had built some raised beds for a client and being that my qualifications are horticultural….. I told Mary [not her real name]

Sure Mary, of course there’s loads of stuff you can grow at this time of year….

Except when I visited my first port of call, the seed racks had been removed. I asked Jim the salesman [not his real name] what had happened…

Ah Peter…. nah we get the rep to remove the whole lot once the kids go back to school….

In conversation with another garden related business owner it seems this was the done thing.

I didn’t think people would be interested Pete….. at this time of year and all

In between all of this another client called and explained to me that she had bought seeds in a garden centre. I dropped by for a cuppa and we had a chat. The seed packets were shown to me and all appeared well until I realised one of the purchases were in fact Pumpkins. I read aloud….

Sow March, April….

Here’s the bit where I’m slightly confused.

And as I wondered the seed selling stores for myself in search of some inspiration, I saw this was not just a one off. I get the point where a sale is a sale, but why would I buy seeds, that are not sale price reduced, just in case you might ask, that I can do nothing with for six months. Pointless. But still this lady, Mary, had just spent over twenty euro on seeds.

Side-tracking ever so slightly, last year when the weather was oh so bad, I will admit that I grew Beetroot [variety boltardy] seeds on my kitchen window ledge – but that was just an experiment, albeit a messy one from an indoors perspective – to prove the back of the packet theorists entirely incorrect. The sowing time recommended as a by the way should be March to July. Whereas I sowed them in December with outside temperatures of minus eighteen celsius.

But it is to this point that I refer to the factors required for the growth of any plant.Put simply they are light, air, a suitable temperature, a suitable growing medium and water.

Knowing these is hugely significant as the elimination of any one of them will also cause the demise of any plant. In short if you prevent light getting to a plant – it will kill it. Hence and now you know why bark mulch may only somewhat prevents weeds from growing.

Back to the beets, what I had done was given the seed a suitable temperature [inside], sown the seed in compost, watered it and there was enough light in the room for it to be able to photosynthesise. I was also able to breath inside, so the air part was I assumed [correctly by the way] also take care of.

But it leads me to the point that with seeds and the packets in which they come in, it is very much the case that you can grow anything you want, at any time you wish – so long as you give the plant what it needs to grow.

To that and to an extreme hypothetical example – at the very least from an Irish perspective – should it be eighteen celsius in December I could grow Beetroots very easily. Again I refer to the back of the packet and Mary’s dilemma of having nothing to sow after all of her purchases.

The reality is I never paid attention to the back of any packet. Never. At present I have runner beans growing and for the purposes of this article I am not even going to check the recommendations as I already know I [apparently] shouldn’t have sown them about ten days ago. But if I get two pods – I’ll be a happy camper. Anything more than that and you are invited to my home for pea soup with extra added peas.

I am however smart enough to realise that there is a point where I shouldn’t push the boat too much against the tide and I know the annual getting into trouble  routine for storing seeds in the kitchen freezer is quite shortly on the horizon.

My excuse for freezing the seeds is vernalisation. A word that is more synonymous with bulbs.

Vernalisation is the acquisition of the competence to flower in the spring by exposure to the prolonged cold of winter.

Like I said it’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. On that note bulb planting season has arrived. If you fancy doing so there are six that I recommended on The Sodshow, the garden radio show and podcast that I present.

Tulips, Daffodils, Iris, Crocus, Allium and of course the first bulb I ever purchased and grew at just seven years of age the Hyacinth.

Contact Peter Donegan

Sowing the Right Seeds, originally published in The Tribesman week Monday 5th September

How To Sow Seeds In Plug Trays

sowing seed plug cell trays

As per my recent post on sowing seeds in pots, the following are some of the seeds I started to grow this the first week of September. I chose to do these in cell plug trays. For me, for the smaller seeds I simply find it gives a stronger plant. Here I sowed the following:

  • Brocoli Green Magic
  • Cabbage Pixie
  • Onion White Lisbon
  • Radish Sparkler
  • Radish Purple Plum