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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

Onions

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The above is my crop of onions that I harvested on Saturday.

Some seem to suggest that I have a relaxed attatude to growing my own. But that’s just it. It’s mine. Also, I like to think that I just make it look too darned easy 😉 I know people who can’t grow. Who have tried to grow and failed at the very first hurdle. I simply hope this takes some of the myth and hypes out of what is essentially a very simple process.

I grew these from members of the Allium family from sets [tiny weeny bulbs for want of a better description]. I paid zero attention to the names and spacings. I just popped them in the the pots. Once again and the same as with any bulb [a store of food] the only thing to remember is that they are planted twice their own depth below soil level.

In conversation with Michael Nugent Snr the questioned suggestion was should one trim the foliage, bend it, or tie it over as one might do [I don’t] with a daffodil. I don’t, put simply. I think plants should be just that and sometimes they are allowed to look a little rugged or ragged. They also look really cool tied up in the kitchen.

Plants, Trees and Shrubs

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Whether you are building your own garden and have a list of plants in mind or simply recreating a part of your garden and require only the finest plants sourced and selected specifically for your home.

From instant mature trees, hedges or shrubs to high impact specimen plants, I source only from the very best nurseries in Ireland selecting by hand each individual plant to suit your garden, no matter what type of space that may be.

From plants, trees and shrubs to the additional products required for the complete project, to the layout of your planting or to where you may wish to be involved in every element and require more a personal guide when shopping and selecting.

  • Planters and baskets, edible or pretty and flowering.
  • Plants or a tree or trees for a particular area
  • an install of an instant green space for your home or office, business or pleasure.
  • bulbs or trees and flowering shrubs to suit the seasons

If you would like to talk with me about sourcing plants or products, plant advice or a shopping guide as always the coffee pot is always on the brew or you can contact me via the following options.

  • by email info[at]doneganlandscaping[dot]com
  • via this website: click the contact page
  • call mobile – o876594688

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the farmers markets…?

serenity...

serenity...

my reasons for starting Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd are probably quite different to those of most in business [?] to be very honest. But as I have said recently it always comes back to the fact that I love what I do.

With that in mind, I was thinking that maybe the Donegan Landscaping team might do the Farmers Market. Not so much to earn enough money to retire [humour…?!!], but moreso to go back to the reason why I started. I’ve no plans in place, nothing ready, not even a venue – I simply mentioned it to the team at our weekly meeting. The guys seemed quite enthusiastic about the whole thing! Which is really good 🙂

So I said I’d put it to the people and see what the thinking was. The poll is below and if you’d like to [go a stage further] leave a comment, one can do so below.
Many thanks in advance, Peter.

I want to thank you…

'your money' does so much...

‘your money’ does so much…

I want to thank all of you who raised, donated [no matter how much] or simply gave me your couple of spare shillings, for my second journey with The Niall Melon Towship Trust. This will be my second year travelling to Cape Town. Thank you all. If not to me for the charity. Bulaidh bós – you deserve applause!

To this I must and should thank those who helped me. I had to raise €5,000. This is how it was done, with *your* help.

There was of course the ladies who did the mini marathon for me and raised over €710. Ladies, from my heart, I thank you.

niall mellon township capetown

niall mellon township

There was also a client who, on her behalf, Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd donated the entire paid invoice. This raised €2750.

There were those who purchased tickets for the Gardeners Ball, an amazing night, made more special by those who I spent it with. We really had ‘a ball’ at that one! Half the money from the ticket price of €250 went towards my journey. This raised €750.

There were those who gave me VIP tickets in exchange for a very large pink boat. I bought these myself for recently married friends [i couldn’t get a higher bidder]. This raised €790, the balance of the account.

All that’s left to say really is… thank you [all] for being a friend

Individuals: Helen & Noel O’ Dwyer; Derek O’ Dwyer; Sean & Frances Gordon, Siobhan & John Farrell; Liz Matthews; Mary & Lilly Yu [my niece]; Jackie Donegan; Kathleen & John Friel; Noel & Stephanie; Michael & Nicola Nugent; Paul & Emer Kenny; [little] Sarah O’Dwyer [if there is anyone else please email me and i’ll add you to the list]

Companies: Packing Machine Solutions; Niamh Butler Architects; Electric Picnic c/o Pod Concerts Ltd; the staff of Iarnród Eireann and the staff of Peter Donegan Landscaping Ltd.