This year has been a busy one with evening lectures, weekend courses and of course the popular Beginners Gardening Course which is now open for applicants for the 2018/19 academic year. On top of all these fun courses I have been pretty busy myself and am delighted to announce the arrival of my baby son Daniel who was born June 14th! As I'm sure you can all appreciate this newsletter will be short and sweet as I take a few spare minutes to keep in touch.
In The Garden
Whilst I was busy growing a human I was enjoying the spoils of the seedlings we grew in class this year. These include the staple sweet pea which in my opinion are the winning scented flower of the summer. Easy to grow and promises to give you months of colour and interest ready to cut for the house. Simply make sure to water and feed on a regular basis and you will be rewarded for weeks on end. Other treats I brought home from class include beetroot which I look forward to tasting in the coming weeks along with patty pan squash.
The great thing about gardening is there is no right or wrong when it comes to your plant collection as taste varies so widely from gardener to gardener. In our humble little patch we try to include staples such as roses, rhubarb and hydrangea alongside herbaceous perennials such as lady's mantle (Alchemilla mollis), valerian (Centranthus ruber) and penstemon for lasting summer interest. What's especially nice about growing this selection is being able to cut some for the house. Even a humble little posy will brighten up the kitchen no end.
As seasoned growers, we are well accustomed to being thrifty in the garden from making our own compost and collecting seeds to growing our own food and preserving the fruits of our labour so we can continue to enjoy them during the cooler months. One challenge, however, that we now face is the water shortage and resulting hosepipe ban in the greater Dublin area, soon to be spread out across the country.
How do we continue to tend to our gardens watering needs yet comply with the water restrictions now in place? There are a number of ways we can continue to care for our plants which take some planning but are practices that we should use all the time and not simply wait for the next heatwave to roll around. In the morning when you take your shower, how often do you wait for the electric shower to kick into gear and stand away from the cold water which initially pumps out? Why not save this water and use it to water your pots and containers. With electric showers using approximately six litres per minute you can expect to collect at least a litre in the time it takes to heat the water.
If you wash dishes by hand, make sure to save the used basin of water for the garden. Likewise save the water you use for cooking and return those micro-nutrients back to the soil for the benefit of your edible crops. Watering should only be carried out early in the morning or later in the evening when the heat of the day has subsided. One obvious victim of the water shortage is our lawns which are turning to yellow, dried patches which can be seen across the country. With such low ground water levels the grass has stopped growing but is a tough all round crop and will recover once natural weather patterns resume.
Give a thought to our winged friends too. Birds will be on the lookout for something to drink or for a much needed puddle to shake their feathers through to help them cool down so if you have a bird bath in your garden remember to top it up or why not make a DIY one with the children and leave it in the shade near the house so you can enjoy watching the birds take a bath during the day!
It's not all doom and gloom though, this heat has resulted in some bumper crops of fruit and veg which is a welcome treat after the lengthy winter we endured at the start of the year. I'm off to water my baby ;) so hope you are all enjoying this fab weather and I'll be in touch next month!
As ever, Happy Gardening Everyone!