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Gardening…. It’s Kids Stuff

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You may remember I was asked to do a gardening class at the La Leche League of Ireland annual conference. On Saturday 6th March I travelled to Maynooth Co. Kildare to do just that.

I know I’ll be doing a gardening course soon, but, there are some obvious major differences in the populus breakdown of those attending on March 20th.

Most can drive cars. Legally. On a motorway. At speeds of up to 75km per hour. Some will shave and in general I will assume most have their house not in a tree.The class mates on this occasion where very much the opposite. ๐Ÿ˜‰

If I did have a plan…. it went straight out the window within the first 10 seconds. The general idea was to grow some seeds. To get the hands dirty. To do so inside and to have some fun with gardening in mind.

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In a previous class the children had decorated old glass jars and these were used instead of pots. Compost was felt and softened, hardened and softened again. It was stuffed into jars and emptied. The seeds were opened and compared; the large broad bean seed versus the speckle of dust like lettuce seed. Funnily enough, most of the boys chose the big broad bean while the girls chose chives. So much more practical and logic they decided.

All in all and in just under 2 hours the class was completed. Some asked for extra advice on how to care for theirs… others already knew. My only fault, in hindsight, was the fact that I was an Arsenal fan and that didn’t go down so well with the boys…

The jars were sealed up ready for some to take their seeds on a long journey to their new home. Either or it was gardening and it was great fun. I just hope they enjoyed it as much as I did. ๐Ÿ™‚

Many thanks to Joan Broe and Jennifer Foxe for being so nice. Really appreciated ๐Ÿ™‚

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The Right Time To Grow

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With high day time temperatures, the sun factor increasing the warmth in the greenhouse well above the the teens and night time temperatures in the minus…. I could almost do a piece here on autumn colour but… it’s March and there are no leaves on the trees. So instead the resulting problem and piece is one of possible woe rather than beauty and colour.

I know that around 12 – 14 degree celcius is what makes [almost all] plants start to grow and the reason this is so important is that I’ve just started my seed growing for this year.

The temperatures in the greenhouse [as you can see above] are more than enough to make the seeds germinate. The problem is that when the little baby seedlings pop out from their store of food [the seed] the low temperatures at night time can come along and literally whack them.

In theory, the water in the plant cells expand when it freezes and this bursts the cells. Put simply the affected cells are dead. That’s not so bad if the plant is an established hedge but for a weakling and barely days old seedling with a very thin outer skin that is so easily penetrated, there is no way back.

I hear you say, I could have waited. Kept my eye on the calender or clock. Been a little more patient and waited a bit longer before I started my sowing campaign. I could even have bought myself a greenhouse heater…. but where’s the fun in that.

I’ve waited this long, this year, to get outdoors and get grooving in the garden… Similar to the Irish potato farmers and the season they’ve just had, I’ll take my [very well calculated] chances against the elements and hope I’ve simply got a head start. If it doesn’t work out… I’ll scatter my seeds and try again.ย  ๐Ÿ˜‰

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March In The Garden

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I haven’t done an ‘In the garden‘ session so far this year. Mainly because, well… I guess the snow, the rain, the cold and in such abundance just got a bit too much for me. Anyhow, that aside, it’s time to get grooving and moving and here is why and whatย  I will be doing in the garden this month.

The lime trees [image 1] are the greatest sign for me that life for this year is almost there. The burning red new stems and buds are so pretty. Loosen the straps, check the stakes and remove all the dead or diseased wood. This goes for all trees including the fruiting varieties. As you can see from my olive tree [image 2] that simply needs a little tidy and some select pruning but its not until we get to the smaller plants that some real work is required. The large window box which fed me with salad for all of last year [image 3] needs a total clean out. Very simply grub out all the old plants, but don’t throw out all the compost. Simply replenish.

The easy plants are the 3 just above, in order, rhubarb, sorrell and chives. Not a whole lot for me to do here just yet. They come up year after year. I may decide at a later stage to divide the chives and the rhubarb, but for the moment it’s simply a little taster of what nature is going to give me to eat this season.

The greenhouse has been pretty much empty since last year. It’s got a little grubby. The 2 dogs use it as a sun trap type conservatory and its very quickly transformed. Then its to my store of seeds to figure what I wish to grow for this season.

Potting table at the ready… this one above I made myself from an old pallet. It’s really durable and well able to withstand the elements. The window boxes are refilled. I’ve sown some spinach in here direct, which is not my usual way of doing it…. but lets see how they get on. The seed trays [my preferred method] are washed and filled, pre-soaked and in here I have sown coriander and chives.

That’s not all I have sown…. there are also some broad beans in liner pots [image 2 above] and anything else you can think of. There’s probably too much of everything in fact but, I live in a rural farming village so a lot of this will be bartered for bags of potatoes and other veg that I won’t grow ๐Ÿ˜‰ All things in order I just need to keep my eye on the max min thermometer for very low temperatures [early frosts] which may affect. As a by the way, I’m going to give it a little longer before I go and mow that lawn of mine.

Now I’ve got to go and give my chicken run a lick of paint. But that should easily keep you going for the next 3 weeks or so. See how you get on, any problems or queries you know where to come. Of course in gardening, there’s always an alternate ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Fireblight

Two of the photographs above are of a collection of Sorbus trees that I had in my garden. They are now nothing but a pile of ashes. The sorbus you see are members of the rosaceae or rose family – the most of which are susceptible to a disease known as fireblight.

The first thing I noticed was that the leaves were shrivelled, dead and still clinging to the plant. [These photographs were taken the last week in January btw]. The buds were also dead but still held to the plant. When I checked inside they too were gone. Necrosis had set in and the stems were dying from the top down.

The cause of this is the bacteria Erwinia amylovora spread generally by the wind blowing, insects and rain splash. It is that simple.

The recommended method of control used to be to burn the plant and that was the route I chose. I guess old habits die hard ๐Ÿ˜‰ But some books recommend the pruning of the plant well below where the fireblight can be found. I simply prefer the better safe than sorry route and the chances of it affecting some of the many other Sorbus sp. that are planted in my garden.

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So You Wish To Sow Seeds

Of course I have written pieces on this before but…. now is the time to get grooving in the seedling department….

It is one of the simplest things one can do. The beauty about these wieghtless flecks of dust is that one doesn’t need a vast area of space. One simply needs an area anything greater than one inch squared ๐Ÿ˜‰ And the shops and garden centres are brimming with all of the paraphernalia one could ever need…. and more!

A lot of it is pure clap trap, not really needed…. and of course there is always a very simple way to grow your own from seed. The very enthusiastsic Jane Powers article on the trials and tribulations of seed growing may prove beneficial at this point.

For me, personally, I’m gonna start off in the herb garden department. I’ve got my packets from last year [basil is an absolute must… followed swiftly by parsley] and I’ve gone far too long without fresh herbs…. I won’t get 14 degrees celcius outside nor in the glasshouseย  – but I will get it on the kitchen window ledge inside…..and that’s exactly where I’m gonna sow my first seeds of this year.

Now all I need to do is wash out that old jam jar and I’m good to go…. and I also know where I can hang that second maximum minimum thermometer I bought ๐Ÿ˜‰

If you are stuck or need a little help along the way…. just leave a comment below

I did this wee video last year… it was done with runner beans but the same rules apply to any seed irrespective of size. Let me know how you get on…. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Other articles of interest:

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