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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. 🙂

The Sodcast – Episode 26

sodshow, garden podcast

The Sodshow Garden Podcast – every Friday – in iTunes, www.sodshow.com all good podcast stores.


Listen to The Sodcast in MP3 – or subscribe/ listen to the podcast in iTunes. Alternatively, subscribe to the blog and listen to them right here. Missed Episode 25 of the garden podcast ?

First Up:

The above image from Bernie Goldbach listening to the garden podcast via his telephone 😉

You can contact me in the following ways:

Recently On The Blog:

Links For The Podcast:

Find out more about Kevin [left], Donal [right] & the Harrys restaurant garden project via

Harrys Restaurant is located at Bridgend, Inishowen. That’s in County Donegal for those that wouldn’t be too up on their Irish Geography – and it’s open daily From 12pm til late. I recommend daylight hours if you are going for a look at the garden 😉 further info at www.harrys.ie

Why Harrys ? I asked on twitter for anyone who had plants of any amount as part or even outside their restaurant and John Ward of  navigatour.ie responded to me. I’d have done the same for someone with a few planters being very honest.

Images For The Podcast:

The above images are Philips garden 2 weeks ago and the Sunday just gone.

This Weeks Oddities:

courtesy of Rosanne from The IIA – wearable planters

Bernie Goldbach reminds me about – making a living as a garden designer

Spains largest vertical garden cleans the air inside the office building – thanks to Angel Luis

Remember The St Brigids Cross saga ? In short, there were no reeds available to make them with. Mary never got any – but came up with an alternate.

And Finally:

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… 😀

Potatoes

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I grew these potatoes some months ago from seed. I think it was about €2.50 for a half litre pot of seed. I simply popped them twice their depth below the surface.

Mine came into flower and passed that point some time ago, but I had potatoes that I had got locally and so I didn’t bother lifting these at all. Until now. I was quite pleased with the crop. I didn’t mound the soil to get more or any of that molarchy. I just planted and left them.

I did run into one problem that was the common potato scab. It’s a scabby patch that appears on the outer skin which disfigures the spud. It’s not a major problem for me or the potato, although if you saw it in a supermarket potato I’d be very surprised. It’s caused by the mycelium producing Streptomyces scabies [the 2nd part of that name alone makes me shiver]. This comes as a result of light soils with a high lime content and also from low moisture levels  usually from a hot summer, which we had spells of this season. I’ll just peel them to be honest and next year I’ll plant a resistant variety.

After that, not much else I can add. It is very much a case of just pop the seed twice its own depth below the surface of the soil and keep well watered.

Of course if you have any questions, simply leave a comment below.

Strawberry Plant Babies

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It can really get on my goat when the grow your own and save yourself money marketing brigade continue to thrust their [not so] ideal[s] upon the ordinary Joe punter gardener. Let me put this in context, when a bag of compost costs €6 and the strawberry plants cost €3 and you or I may get less than a punnet of fruit…. That would cost about €3 anyway…. My point ? Logic. Versus that, maybe I’m the muppet and the marketing garden guru’s are the smarty pants ?

The alternative versus that, is when you can get your plants for free and maybe three or four strawberries per plant…. now we’re sucking diesel 😀 and now the grow your own is saving us some money.

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These plants are exactly that. Free. Or at the very least starting to pay for themselves.

What happens is very simple. And in simple terms, little runners are sent out by the mother plant with, what were described to me along time ago as umbilical chords and plants on the end of them 😉

Read this post for further ‘botanical’ information on the Strawberry plant.

There are loads of shoots on my plants at the moment, but I’ve tended to only pick the ones with some roots on the end. The photograph at the top had landed itself in with the turnips and hence the roots, but from then on a closer inspection is required.

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I very simply pinched out the central buds, if there were any and popped them into a wee little pot of compost.

From there they went into the greenhouse and apart from a little throw my eye over them now and again, they should be just fine.

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Short and sweet as it sounds that’s my strawberries looked after for next year.

Let me know how you get on. Any problems just leave a comment below.