Posts

The Fruit Garden

plum tree fruitI returned from my August bank holiday, after four nights camping it out in the great outdoors to a scenario that I thought mildly beyond my belief.

Branches of my plum trees were touching ground level making life really easy for the creatures that aren’t that tall to take a quick nibble of the now purple fruits. The birds, it was obvious to see were quite easily covering the sections a little higher in altitude.

Of a more neglected feel to my great outdoors, the grass was much longer than usual. I’ll very simply put this down to the infrequent yet high enough levels of rainfall and temperatures in their teens that had dappled my sun factor versus rain coat trials, all the while making my grass cutting quite difficult.

But my fruit tree investments are, it seems starting to pay off. The five plum trees from which I have never cropped fruit from before have at last returned a decent harvest. Decent enough I should add to warrant searching for a recipe to prolong their stay in my pantry that is. One should also bear in mind that three of the trees pretty much did nothing at all, but then that’s why I bought five of them.

It goes a little further than that as the pear trees are also starting to dish out their deserts [see what I did there…] and the apple trees, of which I have about four varieties are coming along quite nicely too. Some of them have even started to fall, something I discovered as the ride on lawnmower began to chug slightly across the long grass and the apple squash began to splatter across the nearest window. More chores I thought….

But the trees and bushes aren’t really chores. Not once you plant them that is.

To the other fruits; I have one fig tree and whilst there are some figs, they are nothing really of worth bragging about. Two or three little ones. But in the wee trees defence, it has spent most of its energy fighting the most recent frost it had taken a severe battering from, so I’m more concerned in it getting bigger and stronger for next year than this.

Stepping it down in height from tree to bush, the currants have already delivered and the berries are in the freezer compartment ready for any given Sundays ice cream to be made that little more colourful.

Other than that I have some peach trees, but I have to admit, this pair and I, aren’t really on talking terms at the moment.

As you may have read in my previous writings, I have to move some of the trees come the off season and they’ll also need their usual pruning in a month or three. But then a good decent hair cut never really did hurt anyone and the peaches are top of that pile.

All in all, I look at the fruit I have taken from the investment I made about three years ago now and I wonder, on a sunny Sunday, why would anyone want to go out and start digging the garden so regularly. Why not just dig one hole. And wait.

And in between all of this pondering I’ve got my eye on the brambles that are still in flower flowing out of the neat and not so neatly cut hedges and hedgerows. I’m reminded of my time at the caravan park in Arklow where I spent a lot of my pre-teen summer years. The pots of jam that my Mother used to make when we went picking fruit from the scrub growth I remember eating with a ladle, if I could have fitted it into the jar that is.

This was all so long before I had ever heard of growing your own, or at the very least the cliché of. I somehow seem to prefer planting my my own. Much, much easier I think you’ll agree.

Contact Peter Donegan

Growing Onions

I’ve mentioned onions here before. But I was asked for an instructional video on how to plant… so here it is. Let me know how you get on. More importantly…. enjoy 😉

 

Growing Your Own [Seeds] On A Budget


I spoke with Philip Voice on Fridays SodShow about how growing your own, although often sold with the attached tagline ‘and save yourself money’, it can sometimes prove more expensive than actually buying the finished product in the most expensive supermarket.

To this an email came in quite promptly after asking, in short, that I prove my worth, so to speak. Fair enough and I agree rightly so, I should give both sides of the tale.

As the video very simply explains these are just you average builders cavity blocks. I’ve decided to grow beetroot in mine. I planted two seeds in each. One for the slug, one for me. What more can I say….

Any questions thoughts or comments… simply leave a comment below.

also: This post may also prove of interest for growing more delicate seeds

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. 🙂

Onion – Planting Season Has Just Begun

On Sunday I arrived back to find a little parcel of onion sets – and some garlic sets – both of the same family [allium] anyway, had been dropped at my door.

I’ve spoke here about onions and garlic before, but for me its massively important as it marks the start of the growing and planting season. Some say that

…it must be too cold to be doing anything in the garden

I say take this advice at your very own peril. If, you wish to have some produce within the next couple of weeks then now – as versus in hindsight is the time to start spending 20 minutes or so in the great outdoors.

And you really can’t get anything simpler to start with. I’ve planted mine in large window boxes and tubs and dropped them at the back door of my house.

How Do You Do It…?

  • Last week [as the podcast would have told you… 😉 ] I cleaned out my planters.
  • I replaced just the top 6 inches of compost and added in some new stuff
  • Give the soil a light firm down and even it out
  • [image 1 above left] Place out your sets just so you can see them laid out…
  • Happy ?
  • make a hole to the left of it with your finger tip
  • Then tip each your onion set in so its just below surface level
  • And brush some soil over to cover them in
  • I didnt water the soil – but if you must, do so before you pop your sets in
  • easy peezy chalky cheezy
  • any hassles just leave a comment
  • About 6 inches apart for both garlic and onions

And now all you have to do is wait….

Why did I plant mine in pots ? Honestly, most people I know do it this way because they haven’t and aren’t going to turn their entire gardens to allotments and become farmers. If you only want to spend 20 minutes in the garden then this should be right up your street.

Remember about 10 should be enough for a large window box.

Like I said above, the same rules apply for garlic. And they are, in very simple terms, just sisters from the same family.

In a couple of weeks you should be doing a bit of this… 😀