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April In The Garden

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You’d know from the ‘March in the Garden’ post that I had just sown my seeds. Well germinated at this stage, the above photograph shows the results after just after 2 weeks. Growth is starting, slowly but surely and it seems to me we’re going to be on for a cracker of a season!

I’d like to try to try not to write about just growing your own… but when the garden centres now have entire sections dedicated to what I can only describe as a phenomenon, it might just prove a little more difficult than expected. That said, this isn’t your average ‘get out and rake your lawns’ type of a piece, it is was I will be doing this month.

Since last month, mainly due to doing the grow your own course I have now sown or started growing: seed potatoes, onion sets, lettuce, chives, parsley, coriander, spinach, basil, mustard, strawberries… the list is literally endless and in a few weeks I will be giving the stuff away at a rate of knots. The gig here is only to sow in small amounts and little by little. I don’t want to farm the land. And I need to ensure that I continue to enjoy what I have always done…. without it becoming laborious. I have but a wee 6′ x 4′ aged old glasshouse.

To other garden stuff. The weather has been tough and very unpredictable. As I write we had snow yesterday, 30th March. But there are more buds on the trees and some are literally on the verge of bursting.

The daffodils are also in bloom, not all, which is good as it means I’ll have flowers n the window for the first time this year and for a longer duration.

The lawn… don’t get me started. I’ve cut mine once this year. And that’ll be it until that drop of rain stops falling and temperatures start to rise to a consistent 12-14 Celsius. That said, I have been laying rolled lawns this year. Great from a clients and my perspective because there is no watering at all – where normally in ‘good’ weather the high temperatures and lack of water would cause shrinkage and watering would be recommended only at night time.

Outside of that all of the stuff I planted last year is doing great. The rhubarb in particular has just rocketed.

The hens are also back laying again after their winter sabbatical… which is great for baking. Yummy! I’m pretty much getting four eggs a day now. Outside of that there were some other creatures spotted recently around there… A good clean out was given, some bait was put down and the jack russell was let loose… I think this one [above] looks happier 🙂

The only thing I would suggest you do not forget is tree planting season. The leaves are pretty much at bud burst point. And it is around this time that the race is on to get the final bit of the bare root and root balled chores complete. Thinking of buying a tree [?] at its best and best value… do so now.

Did I miss out on anything…. ? Leave a comment and let me know. That’s more than enough to keep you going for the bank holiday weekend 😉 I leave you with this to ponder on….

What d’you think one would do with it….?  🙂

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The Grow Your Own Gardening Class

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It was a weekend ago that I decided to do the grow your own gardening course. And whilst the weather turned good I had to wait ’til now to do my synopsis of it.

How did it go…?

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The attendees in this case were 75% [approximate] apartment dwellers/ balcony owners. the other 25% only wished to garden that same amount of space [unless Nick came up with a great idea 😉 ]. Of course, if everyone had allotments/ waned to garden a larger space – parsley *and parsnip would have been covered. In this case a logic decision to skip most of the root crops was taken…. think rotovator and balcony!

I covered all that I intended and felt was needed from sowing seeds – what, which and why to watering. Onto potatoes, onions, sets growing in window boxes and to plants in a small space such as herbs and the pruning, growing and selecting of so that they could be kept there. I could beat on but Louise really does summise it very well.

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From an alternate perspective. Did the €60 cover charge multiplied by 7 people make it worth my while to do so. No. Not on your nelly. The reason why? We did demonstrations and all of the products [one each of everything] used were taken away. I knew to make money, how I should do it and a comment on the garden blog confirms that.  That and the twitter message. No offence Geoff mate 😉

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Try it yourself. Go into a garden centre, pick up some seed potatoes, onion sets, 2/3 window boxes, some pots, compost and seeds and see how much it costs…. growing your own can be cheap… when you know how 😉 If I’m to talk however on garden design with zero overheads…. Ye know yourself. Moving on….

The flip side of that however is something very different. Did I enjoy it ? More than you realise. I really am so pleased that such a nice group of people collated so I could talk about something  I love so much.

I know that doesn’t pay the bills. It doesn’t even cover the time spent baking and collecting the products we did use. And yes if I wish to do it again and again I need to refine. But then I knew that already. It was always to be a trial. A way of noting and timing. Perfecting one could say. Perfecting for those those who do attend.

Now I’m just wondering if there’s another 9 or 10 people who’d be interested…. While I brew on that… I’ll go water my own seeds.

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note: it was Jason’s idea that I did this in the first place. Thanks mate. I also borrowed some of his images for this post.

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How To Water Seeds

To some how does one water seeds may seems like a silly question…. but to others it is the very simple things that most often are not explained due to assumption… more so on the horticulturists part. Try find any gardening book with how to water in the title….?

But, for years as a nipper I crushed and broke weak seedlings with large droplets from a watering can…. and it being the start of the growing season this dilemma has resurrected itself.

If you are sowing your seeds in trays that have perforations/ drainage holes on the base then we are in luck.

With your compost in the tray, slightly firmed…. place your seeds as preferred and drop the tray into a large container of water. As you can see here I have made really great use of my green bin that I did not want. You can of course use your brown bin if you wish

Capillary action [as it is called] is the process which will ensure the water is drawn up all by itself. You will see the compost turn from a dry brown to a wet dark black. Be careful here not to let the tray sink to the bottom and lose all your seeds… watched pots and kettles may come to mind but patience is the key. As soon as you see water just appear at seed level… you’re good to go. You can repeat his process as long as is necessary and as long as your seeds need to be in the plug tray.

If however your container does not have perforations… this is were it can get tricky.

These [left] are the ones I sowed for indoors. I don’t want drainage holes on them, because, they’ll leak all over the window ledges. And I can’t steep them… so…

The answer is to water the soil very well before putting my seeds on top. If I chose not to the compost bubbles up over the seeds and the seed sinks somewhere within the pile of mush 🙂

Watering of these is then done very gently. I myself like to used to use a Mr Sheen/ windowleen type misting bottle [you can’t go wrong this way] and wet them as necessary. Or I pour from a very small jug of water into my hands, held over the container and let the water trickle through my tightly gripped fingers.

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 what  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 😉 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 😉

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