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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.

silicon republic… technology for a gardener #9

The entire list of companies for ‘technology for a gardener’ is/will be here.

...and gadget republic

...and gadget republic

This is piece #9. This is Silicon Republic.

Silicon republic in my eyes like a who’s who sort of what’s what online publication of anything technical related. It is the Reuters of the techie industry so to speak. If there was ever anything I wanted to use, buy or try…. this is where I search first. Put very simply, if it ever had a 3 pin plug stuck to it or its not an abacus…. you’ll find it first at Silicon Republic.

With an average of over 81,000 unique visitors and 150,000 page views a month this is what they say:

Siliconrepublic.com is Ireland’s leading website for IT and business decision makers. Along with its sister publications, Knowledge Ireland, e-Thursday and Digital Ireland, Siliconrepublic.com provides a critical forum for decision makers that rely on our individual mix of news, views, comment and analysis to stay informed of strategic tech industry developments and to ensure their company is making the right business and technology decisions.

Thursday 26th February [yes a while ago now…] 2009 saw Silicon Republic writer Marie Boran review The Donegan Landscaping website/ blog. A long with 3 others here’s what she had to say:

This week we take a look at some of the best business blogs from around the country. Being an internet-savvy businessperson doesn’t just mean visibility for your product or service – it also means engaging with customers and potential customers in a way that grows trust for you and your brand.

Peter Donegan landscaping

Peter Donegan

While the aforementioned blogs are good examples of tech-related firms connecting through their blogs, it’s vital to see other sectors get involved.

With his gardening blog, Peter Donegan is a well-known personality on the Irish blogging scene. He says he’s no “techie genius”, yet his dedication to an online audience proves that even the tech-shy should embrace this medium for their business.

you can read the full review at the Gadget Republic Website or at the irish independent blog digest. Three other blogs were reviewed and well worth a visit. They were Niall Larkins BlogeWrite by Gordon Murray and Jason Roes Blog.

What more can I say…. go take a look for yourself and let me know what you think.

piaras kelly – pr thursday garden guest #10

If you would like to know more about the thursday garden guest the pr sessions –  click here.

piaras

piaras

For the moment writer #10 is Paiars kelly of Edelman PR.

ABOUT:

Piaras Kelly is a Senior Account Manager with Edelman, a Dublin based PR firm.  You can read more of his thoughts on PR, Marketing, Advertising and other topics that catch his interest on www.pkellypr.com

What I like about Gardens:

Working in PR I like to keep things simple.  Juggling a number of clients and a variety of personal interests has lead me to believe that despite how many things catch your interest, you’ve got to be brutal with your time if you’re going to do a good job.  While some people are happy to commit to grand schemes, I prefer to take a step back before committing and gardening has always been a big bugbear for me in this respect.

Growing up, we had a decent sized garden, which I had to mow every week in the summers.  The quick job my parents assured it would be every time they kicked me out the back door, locking the door in my wake, inevitably turned into an arduous task.  Negotiating a lawnmower through a narrow passage, around cars and over gravel to do the front garden always got my blood boiling.  So when my parents decided to get rid of the frontlawn and extend the driveway, I learnt a valuable lesson – don’t let the things in life you own end up owning you.

Living in a rented apartment now means I don’t keep a garden, but when I inevitably end up forking out for a place of my own I will ensure that gardening is done on my terms – potted plants and gravel 🙂 Keeping things simple will mean that I can do the garden the justice it deserves, rather than let a mountain of weeds spiral out of control before I have to head out with a machete to restore order.

neil kirrane – pr garden guest #8

If you would like to know more about the thursday garden guest the pr sessions –  click here.

For the moment writer #8 is  Neil Kirrane of Edelmann PR

neil...

neil...

ABOUT:

Neill Kirrane is account executive with Edelman.

An outdoors enthusiast, Neill is a big fan of water and trees and can be found climbing a mountain most weekends.  Trees over water on the side of a mountain are a big favourite.

He plans to put in some serious garden time this summer. You can catch him in The Maharees. The land where gardens don’t grow.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT GARDENS:

I live in an apartment. A small one. Tiny. Like a little box. Nice though. Homely. A fireplace, some art; two original Picasso lithographs, a Miles Davis portrait and a mismatched assortment of paintings, posters and photographs from the four corners of the globe, France to Japan, Cambodia to South America and back home again. Piles of CDs, newspapers and books gather in the corners and either side of a seldom used fireplace.

Would I like a garden? Absolutely. A sprawling lush green forest with a small stream that rushes and races at first and then slows to a gentle flowing and swirling pace. I could catch trout with my bare hands, pick mango in the orchard and pull wild carrots from the rich soil.

As a munchkin, gardening and gardens meant wholly different things. Heaven and hell. One meant picking stones in preparation of my back garden. For days upon days. Who knew that a football pitch could be such a pain in the back. And head. And arms and knees. And back again. Gardening also involved me forgetting to water the plants. Then lying about it. Then hoping nobody would notice the missing rose bush. Or the dead lilies, cactus, or rhodedandrum. Once it even meant a football destroying a greenhouse. Again, lying about it. And hoping nobody would notice. In different order this time.

Raking and weeding and shovelling and planting. Struggling with a wheel barrow. Cursing when it tipped over and spilt soil everywhere. Cursing louder when it tipped wet cement. Hoping nobody would notice…either the cement or the cursing.

Gardens were different. Bright patches in the dark years. Hours upon hours upon hours of football. First to 50. Then next goal wins. Then penalties until it got too dark to see the ball and goal and teammate. Debating the offside rule. And we all cursed, the louder the better. With nobody listening who cared.

Gardens were grass stained jeans, and dirty green cons. Twigs in your hair, a torn tee-shirt, scratched arms. A big stick to beat a path to Feidhlim’s through the tropical man eating jungle that was the empty site next door. And beating that same path anew at the beginning of each summer. Planning expeditions that would follow the river to the sea on a great adventure, like BB’s Little Grey Men, and putting it on hold until after dinner. Or just reading the book again instead.

Lying with a disposable camera, motionless, in wait of the neighbourhood family of foxes, positive that this would be the money shot, wondering if fantastic Mr. Fox looked the same in person as in my head. National Geographic here I come. Giving up and expanding our tree house with Daire and Paul. Swiss Family Robinson. Robinson Crusoe. Launching water balloons at girls, then begging forgiveness. Then launching again. National Geographic can wait. So can forgiveness.

Good times.

Unfortunately, Never Never Land was a myth. And today instead of a lush green forest or a tree house I have a concrete balcony. Where the soil quality is decidedly not deadly and definitely not rich.

And so mine is an indoor oasis. Two tomato plants sit in the window. Spindly little fellas. Tall and thin with illusions of grandeur. And every now and then I’m honoured with two or three bright red baby tomatoes. Once every six months. But they are delicious. Sweet and juicy and they taste all the better because they are the fruit of my labour. I guess that makes me a grower? Self-sustainable. A man of the earth who likes to let soil run through his fingers, sifting through it plucking out grit and stone and errant plastic. Nails cracked and knuckles skinned, a robin redbreast sits on his shoulder, his face weathered by the sun and caressed by the world’s winds and with a back that creaks beneath a chequered shirt and blue skies.

The tomato crop shares a west facing French window with an orchid. Very nice, but struggling because of a lack of sun. I think it may be on the way out. Unless I relocate it to a sunnier spot. Like Spain.

The pride and joy of this little copse of reality, however, is a Chinese Privet. An 18 year old bonsai. And it is breathtaking. 45 inches tall with a wonderfully curved trunk and overgrown foliage. I mist it every evening. Like telling a bedtime story to a child. Every week I soak the roots in rainwater. The leaves and branches should be pruned regularly but I’m a little careless in this. I like it shaggy and unkempt.

Allotments and greenhouses are the way of the future. Man will plant his own produce and nurture it and watch it grow and enjoy it all the more because it is his own creation. Spinach and carrots and spring onions. Rhubarb for dessert. Instead of dropping into a neighbour for a cup of sugar or some Barry’s tea, you borrow a turnip and some mint leaves. Sound for that. I’ll bring you over some spuds and strawberries in the morning. Sounds good no? No food miles or chemicals or cutting down rainforests. Just a cool garden.

I better build an extension to the balcony. It’s a great spot for water balloons.

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