Tuesday 27 September 2016

Gardening expert Diarmuid Gavin on planting bulbs, feeding shrubs and making compost

From planting bulbs and feeding shrubs to making compost, your garden to-do list for this week

Diarmuid Gavin

Published 19/04/2015 | 02:30

Diarmuid Gavin. Photo: Mark Nixon
Diarmuid Gavin. Photo: Mark Nixon
The gardens at Fota House
Kitty Scully of Airfield House
Lillies

Last week, we began getting our gardens in shape for growing season. This week, I'm continuing to look at some jobs, planting and projects which should keep us occupied in our own Edens over the coming weeks.

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1 Make compost:

All our households produce organic waste matter which can easily be turned into beautiful rich crumbly compost that can benefit our gardens. To do this you need to make a compost heap.

They come in all shapes and sizes but the principles are the same. Start by picking an appropriate site in the garden - out of sight but easily accessible.

Then you could create a simple construction with wooden pallets on three sides with a piece of old carpet on top. Place a layer of small branches, twigs and leaves on the bottom.

Then build up, layer after layer, with green waste (vegetable peelings from the kitchen, flowers which you've dead-headed). More light twigs and branches can be followed by a layer of garden topsoil. The trick is never to use too much of any one material at once.

Excellent material to use includes fruit, plant prunings, layers of lawn clippings, egg shells and old newspapers. Never introduce cooked food, especially meat or pet waste. If the top is covered, this should begin to cook.

Every heap is different, it will take time to break down. Give it a hand occasionally by turning the mix with a garden fork, adding oxygen. Compost activators can be purchased from your garden suppliers to speed up results in double-quick time. If that all seems like too much hard work, buy a compost bin. They work perfectly well.

2 Feed shrubs and roses:

If you have been making your own compost, now is the time to use it or other types of nutrient-rich feeds for your trees, shrubs and roses. Feed anything which will be putting on a performance over the next six months.

These plants need to build up their strength to produce strong roots, shoots, flowers and fruits. The best way is to apply the compost or well rotted manure as a mulch on beds or around the base of individual specimens. You can also use bone meal, seaweed fertiliser or pelleted chicken poo. All of these are easily and cleanly available from your garden centre.

Dig the material into the top few inches of the topsoil. Artificial fertilisers such as Growmore or tree and shrub preparations are also suitable. Take care that any of the products or preparations you use don't damage emerging shoots and if rain doesn't give the garden a good drenching in the days following the feeding, apply water.

3 Plant summer-flowering bulbs:

We are nearing the end of the spring bulb displays with tulips and Fritilarias being the latest in the symphony of garden colour. So, it's time to consider the bulbs, corms and tubers which will provide some of our most vibrant summer garden colour.

I'm on the search for some more exotic species such as Eremurus, Nerine and Hymenocallis to boost my mid-summer border colour. As with all planting, preparing the soil first is vital, ensuring drainage is sufficient to prevent bulbs rotting, and add some slow-release fertiliser such as bone meal or osmocote to the planting spots.

Lilies:

Oriental lilies grow best in a spot with full sun and moist but well drained soil. They've big star-shaped flowers and colours ranging from white through crimson to pink. They work well for cutting, can be wonderfully scented and ideal for planting in pots. You will fit three into a 12in pot, topped by a rich compost and watered to settle. When they start growing, feed them with a liquid preparation every week.

Dahlias:

Dahlias are enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Towards the end of the month it may be warm enough to plant them. Flowers range from a few inches wide to the size of a dinner plate and can be relatively simple or madly decorative in form. They love the old full-sunny position with moist but well drained soil. For a pink pom-pom type, try Wizard of Oz or for a single purple with yellow centre, Annika or Mies. American Dawn opens a rich pink colour before turning into warm apricot.

Begonias:

One of the more curious-shaped tubers, the display of neon colours these South American natives provide will certainly wake up your garden and are fantastic for pots.

They're handy for shady spots and, like many summer bulbs, love to grow in pots and hanging baskets. Most will grow between 12 and 18in tall. Plant them the right way round - they dip in the centre where water can lodge and rot them.

Gladioli:

Beloved by Dame Edna and Morrisey, Gladioli are the Marmite of the floral borders. I'm pleading the fifth on where I stand, but if you like them, now is the time to buy and plant. They're handy in that they're late to open and due to their upright nature they look good grouped in a tall vase. Try Gladioli Plum Tart with its large magenta coloured flowers and soft velvet texture.

Crocosmia:

An Easter visit to Ballinskelligs reminded me of the beauty of the South African bulb Crocosmia.

Their leaves were emerging from hibernation, awaiting late July to burst into a fiery orange blaze. Their colour range is orange to red and flowers can appear like striking jewels with burning blossoms. Popular varieties include C Masoniorum or the red Lucifer.

Nourish your garden

a workshop on feeding your plants and boosting their health

 

Airfield House in Dundrum, Dublin, is a 38 acre working farm that is open to the public. Airfield’s mission is to inspire people to refresh their connection with food and the land it comes from.    

Kitty Scully (pictured right) is the Head Kitchen Gardener at Airfield House, where she manages the New Food Gardens.

This month, Kitty will be hosting a range of adult gardening workshops that are both fun and practical. Three workshops are taking place, however two — Get Up and Grow and Herb-alicous — are already sold out.

The good news is there are still spaces available in the Nourish Your Garden workshop which is devoted to soil and plant health. Plants need a tonic every now and again, and nature provides the perfect solution.

On the day, you will learn how to keep your plants healthy and how to make your own organic liquid feeds for free. There will be a question and answer session, and participants will leave with recipes and a root cutting of the herb comfrey to help them get started.

BOOK: The Nourish Your Garden workshop takes place on Saturday, April 25, from 10.30am-1.30pm. The day costs €35, which includes tea and coffee.

 

Nourish your garden

A workshop on feeding your plants and boosting their health

Airfield House in Dundrum, Dublin, is a 38 acre working farm that is open to the public. Airfield’s mission is to inspire people to refresh their connection with food and the land it comes from.    

Kitty Scully is the Head Kitchen Gardener at Airfield House, where she manages the New Food Gardens.

This month, Kitty will be hosting a range of adult gardening workshops that are both fun and practical. Three workshops are taking place, however two — Get Up and Grow and Herb-alicous — are already sold out.

The good news is there are still spaces available in the Nourish Your Garden workshop which is devoted to soil and plant health. Plants need a tonic every now and again, and nature provides the perfect solution.

On the day, you will learn how to keep your plants healthy and how to make your own organic liquid feeds for free. There will be a question and answer session, and participants will leave with recipes and a root cutting of the herb comfrey to help them get started.

BOOK: The Nourish Your Garden workshop takes place on Saturday, April 25, from 10.30am-1.30pm. The day costs €35, which includes tea and coffee.

Fota house plant  & garden fair

Tomorrow, from 11am-4pm, 70-80 specialist nurseries will be at Fota House in Cork for the annual House Plant and Garden Fair. Unusual plants will be on sale as well as garden furniture, pots, sculptures and tools. Visitors can take the opportunity to walk around the beautiful gardens and arboretum, and visit the newly-renovated Fota House. A portion of funds raised goes to Marymount Hospice.

INFO: Admission €8,  fotahouse.com

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