Gardening with children - Deborah Ballard 0With the children off school and confined to home, why not encourage them to grow flowers, or better still, vegetables? It’s a great way of inspiring a love of nature, understanding how plants grow and where your food comes from (and for older kids, food security) – and children will usually eat something they’ve grown themselves. It’s also highly educational. You can get anything you need, as many garden centres will prepare an order for you to collect, or despatch an order.
No space? Sacrifice part of a flower-bed, dig up a corner of the lawn, or buy a small raised bed and some compost, which will mean fewer weeds for them to cope with. For those with only a sunny balcony, invest in a few pots, some slow-release fertiliser granules and some potting compost. Only give a small space to little ones, and expand later if they are really keen. The bed does need to be in full sun.
- Alan Taylor
Choosing and growing wildflowers in your garden 1Growing native or long-naturalised wild flowers in your garden is a wonderful way to support pollinators and the other creatures who are part of the ecosystem, and add to Ireland’s biodiversity. Some wildflowers are edible, some can be used to make wine, some can be used to scent presses, and all are perfectly adapted to our climate.
You may have native plants in your soil that you don’t know about. Lawns are a sterile desert as far as wildlife is concerned, and by simply stopping mowing, you will do wonders for birds, bees, butterflies and other insects, hedgehogs, and other small mammals. And you may be amazed at what comes up – maybe even native orchids. Cut down the long grass and mow when the flowers go over, as late as early November if you can bear to leave it that long.
- Alan Taylor
Starting with fruit - Deborah Ballard 0
Starting to grow fruit sounds daunting, but fruit-growing is less demanding than growing vegetables or annual flowers, and most soft fruit is really easy. If you have the space for a couple of trees, fruit trees have two seasons of real beauty – in blossom and when the fruit is ripening – and make lovely specimen trees – you can plant spring bulbs underneath. Because fruit-trees are grown on rootstocks that control the size of the tree, there are ones for even the smallest garden, or even for a patio. Strawberries can be grown in the smallest bed or in pots. And nothing tastes as good as fruit from your own garden!
I’m going to give an outline of what you have to think about when starting to plant fruit, and from there, you can check out the various cultivars (named varieties) on the Future Forests website to find the cultivars that are right for you and your garden; you will also find there more information about rootstocks, onto which most tree-fruit is grafted. (When you plant your fruit-tree, be sure to leave the graft-union – the swollen-looking bit on the trunk where the cultivar is grafted onto the rootstock – a couple of inches above soil level).
When it comes to tree-fruit, beginners often worry about pruning, but it’s easier than you might think, especially at the important stage, when the tree is young. If it really spooks you, ask an experienced gardener to come and show you how.
To start with, think about your micro-climate and soil. Fruit generally prefers a deep, fertile, slightly acid to neutral soil, but most fruit will tolerate an alkaline or poor soil if plenty of organic matter – well-rotted manure or compost – is added to the soil. Also important is a reasonably sheltered site, and plenty of sun, although some fruit – gooseberries and sour cherries, for example – will tolerate some shade. Frost pockets should be avoided if possible, as a late frost can destroy the blossom.
- Alan Taylor
Planting bulbs 'in the green' 0Some bulbs, tubers and rhizomes are better planted ‘in the green’ – in spring, when they are still in active growth – rather than as dry bulbs in autumn. These include winter aconites (which are particularly hard to establish from tubers), snowdrops, bluebells and lily-of-the valley. Future Forests stock these ready to send out in February and March. Plant them as soon as you receive them, preparing the soil beforehand if necessary so they can sprint away happily.
- Alan Taylor
Planting and growing Mixed Hedges - Mattie Keane 1Mixed hedging has long been a speciality at Future Forests. Before choosing a type of hedge, you must first look at why you want the hedge and what you need it to do, after that you need to look at practical considerations like site and soil. Once you can figure those factors out, the bewildering choice of hedges should be very much narrowed down.
We find that there are two main reasons people choose a mixed hedge over a single variety hedge:
- They want more seasonal interest in their hedge
- They want to encourage biodiversity in the garden
We offer several mixed hedges, but our most popular mix’s are our wildlife fruiting hedge, our permaculture hedge and our neat natural hedge...
- Future Forests
Choosing and planting bare-root roses 0Everyone loves a rose, and November to March is a good time to plant bare-root roses, so that they romp away when the warm weather comes. The trick for choosing them and growing them at their best is to pick the right position for the right rose for your garden.
There are so many roses that it’s no wonder people get confused. What’s the
difference between a rambler and a climber, or a modern shrub rose and an old
rose? What is an ‘English rose’? Is there a rose that be grown by the sea, or on a
steep bank, or as ground-cover? Are any roses suitable for hedging? What
conditions do roses like? What about pruning? And how do you plant bare root
roses? I’ll try to answer these questions in the rest of this blog...
- Alan Taylor