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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. 🙂

Moving A Tree

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The weather outside for the last few months as long as I can remember now has been a disaster being quite frank.

The funny thing about horticulture however is that life simply goes on. And when one misses out on a time frame of the season….. one often has to wait until the following year to get that task done.

There is no greater seasonal example of this than trees.

About two years ago I planted about 140 trees in my garden. A few failed for various mechanical reasons… but some where planted just for the moment. They were always gonna have to be moved… this January was the time to do so.

Trees go dormant over winter. They lose their leaves. They go asleep for a few months [wouldn’t we all like that… 😉 ] and come the rise in temperature is when they must awaken. So how many weeks do you have left to plant bare root and root ball trees or to move them….. ? As long as its cold outside is the short answer.To the point…..

You have a tree you want moved….

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The first question should you wish to do it yourself is could you lift this tree. If the answer is yes then proceed.

Remember if you lifted all of Dublin up and placed it in…. lets say Scotland [for the craic] would your tree be disturbed in its movement…. no. With that in mind dig as great a hole as you can around the base of the tree without disturbing the roots and then go under.

With a plastic bag – bark mulch bags split are usually quite durable lift the tree in one swift move from the hole onto the bag.

With your second hole already prepared…. drag the bag [ 😉 ] rather than the tree to its new location.

After this the preparations are the very same to planting a tree. Go do it… hurry… you’ve not long left.

the green green grass of home… ?

peter donegan landscaping ltd lawns

Almost the simplest thing to do horticulturally is to sow a lawn… ? If you sowed a lawn with seed anything up to two months ago it may look like this. [Sparky my dog is in there just to give some perception of size].

One may take your lawn problem solver book and put a match to it. Books tend to base what should happen month by month style on a mean [average] temperature. What it doesn’t say & cannot predict is last June would be one of the wettest in Irelands history and this June would be one of the warmest on record! Same rules still apply? Not possible.

problem lawn solve seed germination

Back to the lawn; If you have a back garden or in my case around an acre, the hose isn’t really logic. I tend not to recommend it anyway because of varient pressure, people ‘jamming’ their thumb in the top of the hose [causing seed dispersal and baldness] and because ‘how much water is enough? is about as logic as how much will a car cost…

Too your semi existing lawn; Maybe you predicted the timing of the acttual works wrong? Not really based on last June. So what is it? Why wont the seed germinate in your lawn?

The basic reason for any plant to start to grow is to reproduce. Simple. It has a life cycle that must complete. [From seed to plant – into flower – and return to seed]. Thats its job! anything else is a bi product.

In this weather would you let a child outside without a factor sunscreen on? [Answer should be no I assume ps I don’t have kids]. A seed has one shot in life, it will decide itself if its the right time to make its move. Its got a tiny store of food to get its head just peeped out & then hope luck is onside. Its one chance at life… then it  wakes up in Ireland and hits 35% relative humidity, 20/5 degree celcius & sahara like soil… seeds are just not that stupid.

grass seed will grow just about anywhere peter donegan

The problem as to why your seed wont germinat; You think it may be the soil? My answer; This is the ‘boreen’ [old irish road] I sowed seed into at the same time as my back lawn pictured above. Poor soil an excuse. NO chance. The soil isn’t great, sure but it is more fertile than stone? So why not grow in soil.

The fact that the boreen is North facing and in almost constant shade does help – a lot.

I’m going to cut straight to the soultion to everyones lawn ‘starting to grown problem’. Wait for Mother Nature to turn down the heating slightly and hope she turns on the water soon. Problem solved. To be honest I could write a book just on this subject – many people have! For you this will keep you sane for the moment as to if you have got it wrong somewhere or not.

Any questions just click the comment part below. Please remember it is a garden, its not a concrete block and just beacause you want it to happen, horticulturally, the seed [or plant] may not want to, in this case, just yet. In the meantime, enjoy the sunshine and your garden.