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what is eating my plant…

not what... but who?

not what... but who?

I was out near The Curragh recently with really nice clients having a coffee… on the way out the door… I spotted Dolly having a go at the newest vegetarian options menu 😆

Humour aside, last year of course my cabbage plants had an absolute savaging by the insect world. Not being the biggest chemical fan in the world that I am… I inspected and it was pretty easy to see why the ‘law of diminishing returns’ had taken an entirely new meaning. Without getting into the entire lengthy discussion of insects and their habits…. for the moment I shall narrow amage of leave down to two types.

The first is by insects… [pauses] pests of plants – whose  mouth eating parts will only alow them to eat in between the veins of the plants leaves… the second type is bird damage who will eat through any part of the leaf including the vein.

operophtera brumata

operophtera brumata

In this case it is plain to see the Winter Moth Caterpillar [operophtera brumata] having an absolute feast.

To control these guys the answers are [excluding chemical warefare] pretty pre-historic. Assuming you do wish to end their life, it is by hand that is constantly recommended by almost all books… ie. they are to be removed by hand. The only other method it seems is to cover the planted area with a horticultural fleece to prevent them getting to the plant.

Whatever you do, whatever you choose to grow – remember not to get stressed and enjoy 🙂

thomas… thursday garden guest #10

If you would like to know more about Thursday Garden Guest time – click here

For the moment the writer in the finalé of this series is Thomas & Máire of Irish Allotments. It’s quite fitting that through the series of articles we have had the botantist, the plant hobby-ist right down to the one who just like to view a pretty world and smile. *Irish Allotments* summise all of that. But this is Thomas and Máire’s story of *their* garden. Enjoy 🙂

The Garden- What I like about…

beardies

beardies

In March, we brought two new babies into our home, Max and Sparky – tiny one month old Australian Bearded Dragons.

Despite being the length of my thumb, our two little boys (which we found out about two months later!) had big appetites! For the first few months they mostly eat crickets, a lot of them! Actually at some point the shop could not believe how much food our guys were getting through. Anyhow after a while they started eating more veg, a mix of about 3 greens and 1 or 2 fruits or veggies.

We were buying a ridiculous amount of greens to feed the boys the few shredded leaves they were eating, so we decided to try growing our own. We bought whatever took our fancy on realseeds.co.uk and brownenvelopeseeds.com and this ended up being a lot! These are both great sites, each run by a family who only sell what they grow themselves.

We started out with seed trays on the window sills. We made sure to plant lots of greens, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, pak choi, and cress, herbs like coriander, mint and the boys’ favorite parsley as well as tomatoes, peas, beans and cucumbers.

Pretty quickly we had to move outside to the balcony of our flat. We have 6 grow-bags out there and we got two little plastic hot houses from B and Q.

By May, we no longer had to buy any greens for our boys. As dragons grow, they eat more veggies and less meat (thank goodness!). They are now around a foot long, and we have a great new hobby but the balcony
was just not cutting it so in June we started looking for an allotment.

After an unsuccessful search for information about them in the Cork area, we set up Irishallotments.net, a website to fill that gap. We have met wonderful people in our efforts to expand the website, traveling to
open days and information sessions all over the county. Since then we have tried to get more involved with transition towns, community groups and allotments as our interest for all of them has been growing into a
passion.

Thomas & Maire
IrishAllotments.net

vegetable growing [easy style]…

pumpkin flowers

pumpkin flowers

i tried the ‘going green’ with the veggie grow gig, the herbs and all the other green stuff. It takes time. I needed something to impress the in or out-laws and fast! I’m Peter Pumpkin eater… the walls of the house and my car are supposed to be green… I’ll be ready for them all next year?!!

The reality is some things are easier to grow than others. So I’ve devised my own list of what actually can be categorised as ‘no brainer’. To this I mean: plant it – lose interest – no uber special treatment – it survives!

I’m not saying you’ll have finest fruit in Ireland, what I am saying is if you don’t have time everyday or even every weekend to be in the potting shed – then here’s my suggestion on what won’t die overnight… [you get my drift!]

The easy green category has to start with fruit – the herbs- then veg… and yes, I know I should be stating ‘biblicly how to precisely’ – but lets be honest… if you’ve tried that and got no thanks at all….? then here’s the how to impress the in-laws list! I wont give too long a list – but if you want to give it a bash – here’s where you pretty much can’t go wrong. If it does – dont worry [I’m here] just try again.

from seed..

from seed..

herb/ kitchen cooking

  • parsley
  • thyme
  • lavander
  • oregano
  • bay laurel
  • chives
cherry trees

cherry trees

fruit- tree style

  • apple tree cookers and eating
  • pear
  • plum
  • cherry
  • olive
  • logan/black/ berries and currants
rhubarb stools

rhubarb stools

veggie-ish style

  • rhubarb [top of the list]
  • pumpkins
  • carrots
  • corn on the cob
  • turnip/ swede
  • onions

one for the kiddies

  • mustard
  • basil
  • watercress
free apples...

free apples...

mustard – seed, grow, crop, eat

peter donegan garden advice growing mustard seeds

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I found it really hard to find information of any substance or at all in any books on this plant.

But, if ever you wished to go green really quickly this is the plant for you. I chose white mustard. Instructions say it can be grown on tissue paper! it is that easy. I planted the seeds a different way [no particular reason, partly why there are so many books on gardening I suppose…] then planted outside.

Some say crop the plant just before flowering, the instructions say when its 2″ tall? I say whatever makes you happy. Why? Because, again, the varying schools of thought suggest that the taller the plant the stronger the taste…

Now it is all cropped? Chop it. Eat it. Next time I can grow it to my own specific taste. My tip. Sow a little [about ten seeds] every two weeks and keep the crop turning over.

mustard white seed plant crop peter donegan

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growing pumpkins from seed

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I hear you… it’s only mid July. No matter. You need them for October – but they have to grow! If you ever want to know when to start growing anything the easiest [cheaters tip!] advice is to check your garden centre once a month – when they’re available by seed – that’s when to start. Easy!

This is from the Johnsons range. I actually thought they’d be difficult to grow? no – easy peezy. really! There’s the packet [left] and the seed just below. I just bought them in my local garden centre.

How? who? what? Take a tray or a small plant pot about the size of a tea cup; fill with clean compost; soak first with water [from the bottom up is better – ie. sit in a basin of water and let in take up the moisture until the compost goes from dry brown to damp black] and then push the seed [it looks like a leprechauns surf board] sideways a little [half an inch] below the height of the compost until you can see it no more.

Jack O lantern [cucurbita pepo] is the more common or the ‘typical’ pumpkin as we know it and the plants will need to be planted about one metre apart outdoors when the roots fill out the tray. As you can see mine [after just two weeks! – click here] have a just little more to go before I allow them into unprotected typical irish weather.

Books and catalogues generally base sowing times on an average/ mean temperatures and as long as I understand what the plant needs to grow then I can work away and pretty much garden away as I please.

The ‘book’ tells me I’m a little late sowing – but the book obviously hasn’t seen the barbados like weather that’s been coming to North Dublin recently!!

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UPDATE:

here are my plants as of 28th of August as promised:

UPDATE: A Real Pumpkin Farm