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Plants. Watering. In Warm Weather

hand made bbq

A lovely image of my home-made barbecue to go with the audio.

Whilst the audio above discusses emergency water inducing measures. That aside and of note, there are some points to watch for. The first, silly as it may sound is compost drying.

compost dry

Compost is in short generally peat based, mixed with lime to raise the pH, a wetting agent and some plant feed. When it gets really dry, its colour changes from a wet black to a light woody brown ~ point of note numero uno.

More than that, the peat based product gels itself together and retracts away from the pot [see above]. You may need to ruffle the top of the growing medium [compost] before you soak it in water, but and as noted in the audio, by capillary action is the most efficient watering method.

donegan gardens

The semi- alternate to this is to be smart with your existing or new planting layout. The image above is from the courtyard garden I created some time ago now at Ché Max, Baggot Street. Plant choice decisions of note here, include the use of taller plants with a thin stem but a large bract/ head to create shading for the younger plants below. This therefore reduces the amount of light getting through to the soils surface and slowing evaporation. More than that it also reduces transpiration from the younger plants below.

glasshouse irrigation system phototropism

On a slight side note, in the last few extreme heat [for us pale and freckly Paddy’s] days I’ve noticed the phototropic effects on my younger plants in particular, that is the turning towards the stronger light just that little bit quicker than usual. Something I should note that might only happen if you left a plant in your north facing pantry.

If you do have window boxes, hanging baskets or the like, the best thing one can do is drop ’em straight into a large container of water and allow ’em to soak up exactly what they need water volume wise. Far, far better I think you’ll find that the water running down your arm and ruining that new frock you just bought. With that in mind, I did these window boxes for the wonderful folks at The Chilli Banana restaurant and I’m wondering how they are managing their watering, especially with customers walking by underneath. 😉

My advice, in a world gone all water conservation conversation, get two or three water butts and use the half wheelie bin approach. Keep an eye out for wilted plants. Super saturate your plants before planting, plant plan smart-er and make life a little less complex by allowing your planters soak it all up from below; all the while of course you being a lot greener. Water usage aside, it also leaves you with far more time to enjoy your space outdoors.

Any thoughts or comments ? Hit me on facebook, leave a comment below or pop me an email and I’ll note it this Friday on the garden radio show. In the meantime, enjoy the sunshine 😉

the sodshow

Water Conservation

Today I discovered some of plant collection had been, put simply, close on fried. It’s rare for me to complain about the weather…. but here’s my situation.

For gardens that are new, or newly planted [Hi Julie and Terry 😉 ],for best results and knowing that the hose must be used…. try water at night time. It ensures the plant isn’t competing with the sun for water intake and therefore gets the maximum return from the watering and your time in doing so. Also one may find the water, combined with the days sun can act like a magnifying glass of sorts and cook the leaves slightly.

When these water charges do come in – the county councils will most likely up the price of those water butts too. My advice get one what you can sooner.

If however it is newly selected areas of planting, you may find that the water butts are an option to be considered.

As always you can rss the podcasts via iTunes or direct via audioboo or you subscribe to the blog and listen to them right here.

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Irelands Eye

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The second garden group event took place today. This time to Irelands Eye.

It was an amazing day. And to that some notes of thanks are due. To the legend that is Diarmuid O’Cathasaigh of The Howth Peninsula Historical Society, who spoke to us about the island and to Mary Stephenson who introduced me to Diarmuid – thank you so very much. It put meaning to the journey.

To the skipper of The Little Flower, Mark Doyle of Island Ferries. You are Sir, a gentleman and I wouldn’t sail in any other boat.

To the people I spent the day with… I applaud you and thank you. Absolute Ladies and gentlemen.

To the island itself… I did try to edit the story teller [the video of him that is] that is Diarmuid [and I could have rewritten what he told me]… but the guy is a legend and I just couldn’t do it. Want to know about Irelands Eye…. really ?

From the famous murder to why martello is actually incorrect spelling. From the year 200 AD to Napoleon and why Howth has 2 of everything…. it’s all there.

All I know is, prior to this trip, I could find very little information on Irelands Eye, including 3-ish photographs and some information on wiki…

This video is the ultimate guide to a history of Irelands Eye. The day out… one I will never forget.

My advice if you are going…

  • Get on well with skipper Mark – that’s if you wish to plan in advance. He is a marine engineer by trade and a gentleman by nature.
  • Wear long trousers and hiking boots, not necessary, just better.
  • Bring a picnic including a hot drink and water And sun screen and water proofs.
  • Relax and enjoy. Worth every cent… more than that, every minute.
  • The boat rip costs €15 and if the tide is with you takes about 15 minutes
  • I recommend you spend a good 2 -3 hours there
  • There is much more than the martello tower there [see images]
  • Anything else…

looking for more information

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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.

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.  😉

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