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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. 🙂

Grow Your Own Garden Class

  • course title: grow your own garden class
  • where: ballyboughal [just outside Swords, north Dublin]
  • when: saturday 21st August 2010
  • time: 9.30am – 3.30pm
  • cost: €75 – including morning tea, lunch and all materials
  • numbers limit: minimum of 8 and 12 people max


Who is it for:

  • If you don’t wish to farm your entire garden
  • or remortgage the house so you can garden full time
  • If don’t [or do] have an allotment
  • or you simply wish to gather the simple basics to get started
  • whether you have a window ledge or a small patio
  • or just wish to grow in pots on that amount of space
  • I’ll assume you have a life, possibly kids and a full time job
  • or just enough time in life between eastenders and the 9 o’clock news.

A similar set up to the previous GYO class, the theory is that in one session you will go home with enough skills to be able to look after yourself from a grow your own – without the use of a tractor – point of view 😉

Interested or want to book yourself in ? :

very simple….

  • leave a comment below
  • email me info[at]doneganlandscaping.com
  • telephone mobile 087-6594688
  • or do so via the contact page

Note:

if numbers are 8 or more it’ll run – if not no bother. If you do put your name down keep an eye on this blog post. But I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t. Weather won’t pose a problem. Numbers will include only the first 8/12 names down on the list.

There’s an idea:

interested in having your very own personalised class done at your place of work or home for your group of friends or colleagues…. ? contact details above.

Coriander – Coriandrum

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Some say it is used as an aphrodisiac. Others know it as chinese parsley or the parsley substitute. But whilst it maybe most used in abundance in cooking… it maybe a lesser known fact to some that the seeds are that used to make curry powder.

Amn’t I just a mind full of trivial information. 😯

The Coriandrum [apiaceae/ umbelliferae] are a genus of 2 species of annuals that are quite suceptable to fungal wilt – so a good airy drafty spot in the glasshouse or kitchen window sill is essential.

That said they are one of the easiest herbs I have ever grown – this was very much a case of fill up some pots with compost and drop the seeds on top. Simple as. I sowed these on February 4th so they were actually one of few that made it through the really low [sub zero temeratures] that we had.

Got a spot on your window ledge or balcony…? buy a packet of seeds. Should cost about 3 euro. Fill and old broken mug with some compost. Water first and then scatter about 5 seeds on top. Easy peezy chalky cheezy 😀

Chives – Allium schoenoprasum

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A bit like the sorrel plant, in the sense that this is another one of those just plant it and your pretty much sorted for life in this department. A member of the Allium or Onion [alliaceae/ lillaceae] family – the same family that gave you wild garlic, the supermarket garlic bulb and these really beautiful bulbs.

I got a wee clump from a riend of mine some time ago and they have just multiplied themselves over the years. Some recommend that they are grown from seed – and whilst I have done that this season – my recommendation is that you pop your head over your neighbours wall and ask them for a clump. Lift he clump up and like knotted hairjust rip a section out of it and replant.

When I have too much I pop them in the freezer just after harvesting. As a by the way it doesn’t matter if they are flowering or not from your salad point of view. That said from a get the most out of the plant perspective I prefer they don’t go into flower. Mainly as I want the plants energy to go into producing green leaves rather than seed.

Noted as being a bulbous perennial with short rhizomes grown for its edible, cylindrical, hollow dark green leaves that can grow up to 14″ long. Its umbels can be up to 1″ wide whilst its flowers can grow up to 30 bell shaped purple flowers. The plant itself can grow up 24″ tall and 2″ wide.

Basil – Ocimum basilicum

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The Ocimum [labiatae/ lamiaceae] are a genus of about 365 species of aromatic annuals and evergreen herbs. But – this is not lavender we are discussing. This is the herb we know as basil. With that in mind I am only interested in one type.

There are other varieties, but I have chose what I regard a the more common basil [to me] or what is know commercially as sweet basil. It is an annual and therefore completes its life cycle in one season.

Either or the entire of the ocimum basilicum’s are renowned as either short lived perennials or annuals. They are tender little things that, horticulture aside most people have very little, or less luck with. Any deviation from that truth and your pants are on fire or you work for NASA – and yes they can hear you. Back to the herbs…

For me, I prefer to grow mine from seed and there literally is no major secret [there is of course 😉 ] to doing so. Simply fill a jam jar with compost. Firm slightly and place on the kitchen window ledge. Add a little patience and play the waiting game. Some say, sow them in rediculous rows 8″ apart – but I like to scatter a few across the top and stuff the rule book. Its more fun as well.

The scent from them is amazing. I chose not to feed them either. Its just me and food crops. And if I end up with too much from cropping…. I freeze them to get me through the winter. Next year, I’ll start all over again. As a btw, you should get about 300 seeds in a pack… use what you must and put the rest [in the packet] in the freezer.