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10 [Wo]Man Chores For Your Garden

garden works in progress (8)

Before you get thinking or reading the very little that I have written under each heading below, please note, these were all tasks that were all done in almost all cases as one part of a much bigger picture.

And though some may wonder the whole point of this post [?], well, it might just get you outside, in the garden, improving or removing something that for so long has got on your nerves or could look so much prettier. And that might just make you smile. And that’s a good thing. And then you might bake me a cake. And now we’re all smiling. And that’s even better.

Also it’s the little things that matter, or some such cliché. Also, of note there is a comment box thingy below should you have any Q’s. Go forth and make your garden better looking. You’ll thank me for it. Or maybe you won’t. Either or, enjoy 😉

donegan landscaping

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Trampoline Sinking

sinking a trampoline

I’ve heard many varying reports on how one should or can sink a trampoline. In my honest opinion logically, in reality and in fact, unless it’s a wee trampoline for a leprechaun, there is only one real vorsprung durch technic method of doing so. I did this as one part of a bigger picture where, I should add, works are still in progress.

Before you get to crater creations, choose your trampoline. Buy once, buy well, buy right and buy this before you dig. In this case the trampoline is [by specification] 14′ foot diameter. Spot chosen, the central point is found and the hole is dug. Note: not recommended you do this by hand, brutal soil or not. There is a fine reason why I note this.

trampoline sinking

Approximately 40 tonne came out of this soil sided cylinder and *if Irish rainfall weather does not work in your favour, it will fill up and depending, the walls can/ may/ most probably will collapse. You may say it didn’t. I say that is one heck of a gamble.

Levels sorted below ground level, distances and levels are checked at almost every interval. Foundations were then laid and whacked, yes, with the whacker [compaction plate]. Once the base set, it was straight onto the first course of cavity blocks.

The cavity blocks and foundations had rebar/ steel set into them and once we got to the top level into that then is poured concrete. In short, this is known as a retaining wall. We chose to cap them off with a solid block on its flat.

Allowing time for the concrete in the walls to dry, we returned to level the soil about 7 days later. Weather dependent, you will need this. Any sooner and the weight of the machine plus the weight of the soil against wall may cause it to cave in. Not an option. The base of the pit made allowances for a sump/ drainage pump to be put in place and the base of the pit was brought to foundation level with stone for drainage. After that the trampoline is put into its new home.

The trampoline was planted after with a dwarf type bamboo to surround it. I like the way this dapples the matt black saftey net. Of note, flick back up to the top of the post and see the difference in the height versus the wall.

I’ll get a better picture of the trampoline set in place, but for now this will have to suffice. Questions or queries, leave a comment or….

Contact Peter

UPDATE: 3rd July 2012 – Trampoline Safety Netting

Grow Your Own Soil

good soil

You may remember I made the raised beds for growing your own. Part 2 of this, naturally, is to ensure that the vegetables of choice have a suitable growing medium, in which to grow.

Approximately 6 tonne of compost in this case was [number 1] horticulturally illogic and [number 2] extremely costly. In that order.

I [choose] chose my soil here with a couple of notes in mind. Before you read on, do bear in mind, it’s quite easy for me to know my soil just by looking at it and this below is my interpretation of what years of my mind, eyes etc are quite simply just used to looking at – it should help you:

Soil colour:
the closer to grey the more like concrete it will be. That is not good. The closer to black, the more better.

Stickability:
as you can see – it’s not clumped and is not sticking to the bucket of the Loadall [the machine]. Slides right off in fact.

top soil

Hey good Lookin’ :
I knew it had just been graded and graded well [see pic below] as it had some twiglets, small stones and the like running through it – this is a good thing from a drainage perspective.

Have a good Feel:
drive your hand straight into the middle of the heap just to check for consistency through the stock pile. Do this in 3/4 spots if you are unsure. Squeeze hard and see if it will clump form and then crumble apart or stick like marla/play-doh

You get what you pay for:
Within 20 tonne of good soil I might expect to lose about 2-4 barrows to excess debris. With these loads, I had not one scrap of waste.Yes I can get cheap soil. I can even get free soil…. all of which is your pal is Monty Don or Peter Donegan.

Why not compost Peter ? :
Take a look at any farmers field growing veg. See the miracle grow ? No. Yes, composts have their uses. For me generally, I use them to get seeds growing but – in short I wouldn’t rear a child on caster sugar alone. That’s my take. There are exceptions – but this is for outdoor vegetables not glass house crops like tomatoes.

What about Soil pH testing Kits ? :
I’ve never used one in my life. Well maybe on a few occasions when I was in college. For very specific consulting matters I have sent soil samples to Teagasc. But in short, Peat has a pH of 3.8 – 4.3 and compost  [peat treated with lime] has a pH of 5.8 – 6.3.

As a general rule – if you live on a bog [peat], then fair enough. But if you live in for example, a general Dublin urban type area – or – in my case the soil is being taken from there you have a rough idea the pH level will be around the 5.8 – 6.3 mark.

This will give you a more specific idea – take note of column 6 – the pH:

soil data acid brown earth teagasc

The above in reference to this piece of text – here I note the first paragraph:

acid brown earth

And there I shall leave it so as not to bamboozle anyone. Further reading, if you wish to do so is available online via this Teagasc research and also from the 1980 Soil Map of Ireland report
good soil

Garden Advice

catterpillar cabbage (2)As I type this weeks article the door off my outside room is open and I am wondering on the one hand if and how the weather reports for the last five days have been so far off the radar. It was due to become Noahs ark type weather but somehow or other a few short down pours, a sort of weather Gods mini-tantrum if you may, came and very swiftly passed. The importance of this to me and any garden enthusiast is of serious importance.

Last week I had tonnes of soil to shift, by hand, well, with a bucket shovel. Of which my upper body carried. And when I say tonnes, I mean twelve of them. Suffice to say, my left arm is at present the size of a bullock.

I have been reading back over what I have written on my garden blog for the last few days and noted my reference yet again to attire for the great outdoors and yes I hear you holler back at me

There is no such thing as bad weather – just the wrong clothing

But if you have ever lifted a bag of saturated and wet bagged compost you’ll have a rough of idea of what a difference this could make to ones day….. alone from a just keeping the place clean and trying to sweep up mud, as versus dry clay or from a muscle development perspective – have you ever carried eleven litres of milk ? Then try carrying eleven litres of powder milk. A bit of a weight difference ?

But within this there is a point where the methodology of the construction of the raised vegetable beds in which the soil was filled, has to be of extreme behind the scenes intelligence to be able to support the weight from inside forcing against the timber. And this is the point where all of the you get what you pay for type cliché’s come to mind, my favourite of which is

cheaper can often be more tearful than cheerful

Whilst I did touch on it in last weeks article I have yet to rummage through the seed catalogues and chose the crops I want to grow here for the seasons of lower temperature that are en route. I was stalled in this department because my hens, now touching three years old are slowly progressing to pet only status. Personally, I simply couldn’t shorten their tenure, if you understand me, but the eggs resulting from their stay here are lessening. In conversation with my good friend Paddy we found a solution.

Paddy has what I can only describe as a bird sanctuary. He also has twelve chicks and a Mom that need to be re-homed. It will be a straight swap. But once again, I am back to the point where construction of the area in which the hens will be housed will make life very easy for me. To side track mildly, I don’t, personally, understand the wee triangle type all-in-one hen-house set ups. They may suit fine the domestic, with three garden walls scenario, but when like me you live in an Emmerdale farm type affair – where the dogs keep the cats away and the cats keep the….

All Gods Creatures gotta place in the choir some sing low and some….

Again, it is horses for courses and one suit does not fit all. Funnily enough, outside of my own garden and fowl, I have two one-off hen areas to build within the next month, something that in my eleven years in the landscaping business, has never happened at all.

To the photosynthetic side of my garden, my garlic has developed some rust on the almost crozier like stems and are just about to burst into flower. I can’t wait for that one, but as soon as they pass I’m hoping to plant an autumn/ winter crop.

My apple trees were weighted to the point of leaning over almost at a forty five degree angle and the pear trees I can happily boast are quite simply in abundance.

Outside of that there’s not much else really to brag about. August running into September is a bit of a no mans lands type month for me and it is here I refer to gardeners hindsight in that forward planning is everything. Anything I have growing at the moment was planted months ago and I’m literally just waiting for the lettuce to bolt and the onion stems to die back so that I can plant something else in their place.

If you do want your greens on your table come Christmas, now is the time to act. In the meantime I’m going to go one step ahead and get myself ready for moving some of my trees. Digging holes and moving soil…. again.

Contact Peter Donegan

The Gardener, originally published in The Tribesman week Monday 29th August

Growing Seeds… Without Compost

I was asked about my thoughts on growing seeds and what compost type one should buy last week.

I have written many times on why I prefer were possible to sow my seeds, in particular when growing my own food stuffs as compost-less as possible. Whilst it is great to see the growing at home movement very much en vogue… I hope the big [logic] picture isn’t left behind.

This video summises my thoughts on the logic of this posts title quite well.