January Gardening Newsletter

2018 In The Garden - Happy New Year Everyone!

The great thing about the start of the year is how many goodies you can add to your gardening wish list for the 12 months ahead. The catalogues are full of exotic seeds and staples alike so this year I have decided to try my hand at some new edible crops. Space is at a premium at the moment so I will be trialling these new additions in pots and hope to include such interesting treats as Tomatillos - a staple in Mexican cooking and one which has always grabbed my attention when bingeing on cooking shows from across the pond.

Tomatillos or the Mexican husk tomato are part of the nightshade family (tomatoes, peppers and potatoes) and are in fact a Physalis which is evident from its papery husk some of you may be familiar with surrounding the fruits of the cape gooseberry but this plump green fruit is a common addition to sauces and salsas so should sit very comfortably in the summer pantry. Grown like a tomato on a vine, I will support it using a tomato cage made of bamboo canes to control its sprawling habit and hope to have some tasty treats by mid-summer. I don't have the luxury of a glasshouse at home so will try one or two on a sunny patio and some indoors by a well-lit window and see how they compare.

Continuing with the culinary theme, I also hope to grow Cucamelons - a dainty, speckled fruit resembling miniature watermelons with a unique flavour profile combining cucumber and lime. Another trailing vine, the cucamelon promises to be a heavy cropper which is always a plus so I will keep notes and let you know how they do.

As far as flowers are concerned, I also intend to include sweetpea and nigella as a given and if space permits, I hope to grow some clary sage and the bold daisy – zinnia. Along with some new rose additions last year, Rosa 'Rhapsody in Blue’ and R. ‘Iceberg’ both repeat-flowering gems with heavily scented blossoms, we should have some nice material to decorate the house with throughout the growing season.

Generous crops whether fruit or flower demand a lot of food and water so rather than be reliant on shop bought feeds which by the way are a godsend in the garden and a must have in the gardeners arsenal I also plan to experiment a bit with my own liquid feed. This can be easily achieved using comfrey grown straight in the garden and applied to crops as a tea. Easy to brew, the tea is made by simply chopping up fresh comfrey leaves and soaking in water in a bucket for about 20 days. The leaves are packed with nitrogen and potassium so are a real boost for vegetables and fruits. Even if a bit whiffy, once strained, make sure to dilute the mix 10:1 simply with water and you will have a fantastic feed for your crops which should last the whole summer and is cheap as chips!

Gardening Courses 2018

The second semester of the Beginners Gardening Course will resume shortly, just in time for a new and exciting four-part evening course which I will be running in the Botany Department starting February 1st. Entitled: A Garden of Four Seasons, this course promises to give the budding garden designer all the advice they need to ensure they have a garden filled with interest across the whole year. Each lecture will concentrate on a season so I’ll be sharing plenty of tips and tricks I have picked up over the years on how to tend to those gorgeous plants once you have bulked up your collection. The lectures will also deal with colour combinations, textures and designing flower beds from herbaceous borders to vegetable plots and how to provide your winter garden with interest when it seems everything has gone to sleep – hint, it hasn’t!

Contact me directly on 086 393 8467 or email proctoh@tcd.ie for further details.

Weekend Gardening Course

Things keep going from there with a weekend gardening course due to be held at the TCD Botanic Garden for the month of April. For those of you who prefer a more hands-on approach this is the course for you. I will be showing the class how to take cuttings, divide herbaceous perennials, grow vegetables and cut flowers from seed and much more. Places are limited on this course so do get in touch sooner than later to book your place.

For those of you who enjoy social media, make sure to follow my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BeginnersGardeningCourseTCD/ to keep up to date with everything I cover on the gardening courses or if Instagram is more your thing make sure to follow me @hazelproctor

As always, Happy Gardening Folks!

Hazel x

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