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Your Garden Calender Starts Now

peter donegan landscapingNational Tree Week has just passed us by and there are approximate twenty native Irish trees for us to maybe have a go at planting.

Big Paddy Irish native trees aside, for the grow your own enthusiasts, as my cooking apples are holding onto the last of their fruits – if you would like some of that for this time next year – very shortly, is the time to get your tree in your ground.

Not, as some may have discovered by planting next summer and then expecting fruit to appear a few months later – that’d be like expecting Fernando Torres to score after ten one game.

Intelligent in respect of our photosynthetic brethren, more than that, I have seen the future and it is filled with flowering plants and green leaves that all start their life cycle shortly after the beginning of January.

For you see when one plants a plant that is in its over-wintering state, one should also appreciate that also in a position of dormancy are the weeds and everything else that will compete with the plant you actually want to grow.

As the days get shorter the loom of a forecasted snow and frost seems to have passed us by with temperatures well into their teens. One colleague of mine noted quite recently:

Where are the soothsayers in the media who promoted idea of a total freeze up in early October? Some say it’s damaged sale of plants !

And quite rightly so I might add. But leaving in every form weather predictions aside and what that actually did achieve – or at least that aside, the point I would make is, whether you like it or not, there is no better time to get the garden grooving again.

You are off your rocker Donegan Pants Gaping. It’s October. Halloween. The clocks are about to go back and it’s getting a little cold outside and there’s you preaching from the pulpit…..

Yeah ? Really ? And as I turn off the Vincent Browne-esque tele-visual programmes. I say

Go to your shed. Dig a great big hole and put the television in the bottom of it.

And continuing on……

In a very different way but a bit like the next door neighbour who borrowed your drill, you ladder and a loaf of bread seven years ago and never gave it back…. weeds are also plants. They just don’t know they we dislike them.

On a serious note, plants compete with each other and this not only includes food and nutrients from your composts and soils – but also the hydrogen dioxide that is one of the five factors required for the growth of any plant. In these coming months however – and maybe it will have a greater effect in the years to come when water metering is of a greater impact – but there is also lessening in transpiration and evaporation rates. Water usage by the plant that is.

Even if there may be water butts in place – it is still  a case of time [not so much the money I grant you] and although I love nothing more than spending even more time in my or your garden – it is time management and that that I could be concentrating elsewhere.

But the garden list of get it done now tasks is not just the trees. It is the herb garden. It is the pretty plants, the scented flowers, the climbers along your back wall. A sidetrack to garden maintenance ?

Hedge cutting. Weeding. Tree pruning. Crown raising. Mulching plants. Fertilising the lawns. Planting hyacinth bulbs or daffodils so that they can provide your kitchen table with pretty flowers for three weeks of February. The list is endless and it all starts now. That all of course before we realise that temperatures are still in their teens and the grass is still growing.

I have a few trees to move myself. I have a lot of trees to plant too. I’ve just planted some hyacinths and whilst my runner beans are still growing – my broad beans are battling the windy elements to make their way to putting food on my table. More than that you say….?

I still have the eating apples to pick [trees. plural] and I’ve just planted a second batch of onions and garlic. This of course before I get to the prettier things that will be coming to my garden shortly. I’ll get to that next week.

Contact Peter Donegan

The Real Green Irish Company, originally published in The Tribesman week Monday 11th October

The Great Gardening Weekend Podcast

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The Sodshow Garden Podcast – every Friday – in iTunes, www.sodshow.com all good podcast stores.

Listen in MP3 format – or- As always you can rss the podcasts via iTunes or you can subscribe to the blog and listen to them right here. Missed last weeks garden podcast ?

On the blog:

My weekend in the garden:

Unusual Green News:

Your Thoughts on This Email:

Hi Peter, great site – engaging blog, great ideas – But I can’t quite figure out who is your market? Is it the organic farmer, is it someone with a city garden, county councils ….???

I replied….

A Chara Cormac,

thanks very much my friend. Always good to get feedback on the blog. Being honest – I’m not sure there is one strict ‘audience type’ that I was looking to ‘target’. It’s more just my ramblings [?] thoughts and so fort of what I come across as an enthusiast of the great outdoors. There are also points in there where I believe discussion is always good [ie. organic] and thats another side to it.

Essentially I make or work with plants/ gardens/ am a horticulturalist by qualification. The reality is though that I dont play golf or live a lavish lifestyle and this you might say keeps me more than occupied. By way of sponsorship – if it comes it comes that’ll be nice but it is by no means the reason I started writing. To be honest, when I left the farmers journal I just needed to keep my fingers occupied and this came up. I guess it just grew from there.

That said the stats show the people like it – so I guess I’ll just keep plugging away until Bill Gates decides to buy me out 😉

Cormac replied:

Cheers Peter, I suppose my comment was more an observation on why you’re not trying to more specifically capitalise on the interesting nature of your blog by upping the sales/ business content of your website (not the blog – which would obviously turn people off). Turning the stats into business. On the other hand your passionate approach is admirable – I’m sure such passion has greater rewards

I replied:

*smiles I wouldn’t mind Cormac to be honest I just and it is something that crossed my mind. Thats said I’m not sure I know how. Also I’m not sure Mrs D would agree with the passion has greater rewards ! 😉

And finally Cormac replied:

well I would have thought putting up some past projects on the website side would be a start – or outlining what you’re best at! (you can’t be good at everything!;-) With a dublin address you have a fine big market. You could be the Duncan of horticulture! Anyhow – i’ll leave you at it! there was you having a good time til I started nagging you like the Mrs.

Personally I think Cormac sounds like a decent cup of coffee kind of guy…. certainly made me think and for the better. Thanks Cormac. Sincerely. Is that the Duncan I think he’s talking about…. 😉

This made me smile:

It appears some-one really does read this blog. Really made me smile Thanks Orla 😀

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also via @orlamcdermott – this little how to take it easy video 😀

The Red Dead Tree…

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You may remember some time ago i had a tree that died and that I then decided to paint red.

I called it the red dead tree.

Well… on Thursday it left [pictured left] my home. 🙁

It was admired from afar by good friend Linda who despite dropping hints overa long period of time chose to tell me that she wanted it.

No was not an answer it seemed.

To be honest and as silly as it sounds I miss it. But the reality is it will make Linda smile. It sits in he bed just outside her front door, it can be seen from the front living room and it peeps just higher than the hedge on the boundary of her garden

And that in itself was reason enough for me to do so. 🙂

I told her she could have had the red exhaust pipe bird feeder or the red satellite bird bath… but she wanted that one. 😆

Now all I have to do is invent something to replace it…. Here it is in its new home.

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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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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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