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Bulbs: Plant Now For Spring Colour

I’ve possibly told this story before, I can’t remember…. Anyhow, I remember years ago planting my front lawn, around this season, with daffodil bulbs. Tonnes of them, literally. Side-tracking slightly, the bit I love, the child like bit, that makes me almost want to go out every day to see if they’ve peeped their heads even ever so slightly above ground, is what does it for me. And it’s when they do that bit, that the effort, is made so very worthwhile. I know, kind of childish, a little bit.

Back to it, I planted one big massive dormant love heart shape covering the entire front garden in these yellow flowering Allium’s. For all of the world to see. In short, in hindsight, or at least at the time, I thought it was romantic…

My bruised arm definitely didn’t see it that way as they started to protrude and then come into flower.

And back to horticulture. If you are gonna do bulbs, my suggestion is to do it en mass. Plant them into your lawn, under plant the tree areas or alongside the front of your hedge. I did it on the road side opposite my home 2 seasons ago for people to take as they were passing by. There should be a lot, lot more this coming February. And that’s the other great thing about bulbs, you only need to plant once and then [pretty much] ignore them.

I might plant some this weekend with my little Ella. Dad and daughter things to do are very important. Personally, I like the fact that she gets to pick some for Grandmom. Free smiles all round are very much a good thing in any language. Even wee Ella’s babbling conundrums understand that one.

As a by the way. Twice the depth of the bulb below ground. Also note geotropism. And enjoy.

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Things To Do: Gardening With Children

Speaking with Hector on 2fm a few weeks ago I noted that when I was 5 and into my gardening, 1981 really wasn’t a fashionable era to be seen as green fingered.

April 2012, my daughter Ella was 2 years old and I nearly fell off my stool when I spotted the lego one of her delightful aunties and Uncles got her came with flowers, picket fencing, carrots and rabbits. All I could think, was the sleepless nights she might have should that rabbit make it the far side of the paling. On a serious note, it is pretty much, for me and gardening, a more than welcome sign of the times.

In the Donegan household, we like a fine mix of simplistic and pretty. The balance is hugely important. To note, the following are a mix of pressies Ella received, garden stuff Dad picked up and a little of how we like to garden. Also important to note is that Ella has approximately 10 sets of wonderful Aunties and Uncles who are ever so kind to her. I’d have got her an Arsenal watering can…..

The Equipment

peppa pig watering can

A gift for Ella’s birthday, I’ve observed Ella’s posture as she attempts to stand, as I wanted to when I was younger, like my/ her Dad. The wheel barrow garden kit above is really simplistic and with/ out the piggy stickers, it’s actually quite smart. The watering can works really well and aged 2 she now instinctively heads to the water butts when suggested…. d’ye follow 😉 We also put her seeds in there and some wee pots when we go gardening together. Personally, I like the yellow handles.

The tools in this pack are actually quite handy and the quality surprisingly good. So much sow, the trowel almost came to work with me this morning. Not a joke. Back to home lands, we used the trowel to put seeds on when we sowed the Homebase bunny tails Grow Your Own Kit. That aside, I think all gardeners tools should be this colourful.

Things To Do

I picked these up at The Garden Fair at Huntstown community Centre – tip: watch out for your local one and turn up late for the bargains and early for the best kit. I think I paid about 50 pence a packet which is really good value. We planted the Natures Haven, attracts bees packet out by the washing line [away from the house]. I like pretty flowers on our kitchen table and I feel it important for Ella to understand that bees don’t eat vegetables.

Understanding the life cycle of the caterpillar, the butterfly packet was sown away from the vegetable pots in some hanging baskets and a planter that Dad made. Like sowing lettuce, fill a pot and just scatter the seeds roughly across the top. It is that simple.

These were also picked up at The Garden Fair. Ella likes their faces. When we don’t water them their hair wilts like some sort of Spandau Ballet no hair spray hair-do. We’ll trim them soon and they won’t last forever, I know. In context, it’s the eating, trimming and taking part that counts. I like the fact that perfecting the art of being gentle [when pruning] will allow for wee mishaps here. These two also make me smile. We gave one to Grandad. Giving is good. It also made Grandad smile. We might make our own next year with some old socks and our own seeds…

I made 6 of these last week for work and kept one for home. Very much a blog post for another day, our hen-house is really a 6 x 4 shed painted very girlie pink and white. I was thinking I might paint this planter pink and white for Ella, to match. What should be by far much better fun is that we paint it white together. Let it dry. And then let her go a bit doolally, under some form of supervision of course, with a pot of pink paint. The sunflower seeds will look perfectly in here I think.

These came as a gift from another of Ella’s Uncles and Aunties ~ you can see where this is going…. The pot is really cool, and it looks good without the seeds germinated. It also matches her hat. And like the Unwins bee/ butterfly mixes, just fill a container with compost and scatter the seeds on top. I think this took us about an hour. Totally unnecessary timing levels I can assure you. But again, that’s not the point….

Lagurus ovatus

I noted the Homebase Grow my Own kit on the blog last week. You can of course make your own with a jam jar and a handful of compost. We did this with some Chilli and Basil seeds in an old tin can. I think we may decorate them on a random rainy day with some wallpaper; Another blog post for another day maybe…

Seed kits and junior gardening paraphernalia aside I like the fact that Ella will have parts in the garden that she was involved in creating, as versus elements I wanted her to appreciate that were handed to her. That, the infrastructure I will note [double underline] is also good and hugely important. But there is a difference between a house and a home, if you get me.

Don’t get me wrong gardening for me as a child was always about being outside in the rain with my raincoat on, feeling the rain on my tongue, the figuring out why my hair went wavy in high humidity, questioning the ‘rule books’ and doing the opposite of what they said just to see what would happen if….

Far, far more important than that though, is the memories I have with my Dad and Grandad helping me in the garden [or the other way round if you like]. And in hindsight, I realise that the gardening was very simply the bit that had us spending time together. I don’t have any major ambitions for Ella to be a big horticulture brain.  That’s for her own wee little head to figure out as she grows up. What I do  know and hope is that she too has memories, happy ones of time spent together.

Audio courtesy The SodShow

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Tree Straps – Winter Tree Care

tree straps tree care, dublin

Beer belly syndrome – or trees bulging out over their tree straps, is a fairly common sighting for me. That said winter is a great time to meddle with any tree, now that it has entered its dormant state [see yesterdays post on the blog…]

I thought these Betula jacquemontii a good example to use as they are still quite young and worked well on the video.

Any problems simply leave a comment or contact me via

tree tie dublin

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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

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How To Sow Seeds in Pots

broad bean seeds

As I get my self ready for the winter season of potential self sufficiency these are two of the seeds that I have have started to sow and grow this September.

  • Broad Bean – Meteor
  • Pea – Douce Provencal

As Philip had just purchased and wanted to trial his new camera and I was actually sowing seeds when he called around for a cuppa, we decided to do this instructional video as a sort of tester. It’s also been a while since I appeared in one of my own videos.

Either or here’s how easy it is to have a go yourself.