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Oct / Nov issue of The Irish Garden








Johndamian's Garden


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My house is built on one third of an acre facing the sea which is about 600 meters away.. In the front a lawn sweeps down to the road with no wall or hedge in the way. At the back there are three areas....a steep bank of red sandstone clay and rock on which I have managed to establish through trial and error a variety of hardy shrubs, including Senecio, Veronica, Escallonia, Potentilla, Rock Rose, Mahonia Japonica, Cotoneaster, Privet, Olearia and many others.  Above the bank I have another  "Lawn" which is really a mown piece of field behind a beech hedge,but is very private and is where we like to sit or the children to camp. To the side of this is my vegetable and fruit plot. This is in the early stages of development as I have just recently retired but I plan to have strawberries, Gooseberries, blackcurrants, loganberries, raspberries and apples as well as peas, beans,potatoes and some brassicas. The most prominent feature of the garden is not my doing.I am lucky enough to back on to a public woodland with access and have a huge oak tree leaning over the garden and a collection of fine pine tress with a rookery....very noisy at times but great company. We built the house 15 years ago but it is only recently that I have found time to really concentrate on the garden and I am enjoying it so much.

Journal

Brief account of changes since 2010.

29 October 2013 13:55:56
veg garden in June

veg garden in June

What a wonderful summer. I had just moved my strawberry plot to a different part of the garden , so the fruit was scarce but the plants build up nicely. Blackcurrants and Gooseberries were never better also Rhubarb and Loganberries. Had a great pea harvest and other veg especially potatoes went according to plan. I bought the wrong variety of tomato plants and instead of getting large impressive tomatoes I got hundreds of tasty little cherry types. The good news is, I am still picking them in late October. Apples were ok but all the fruit on the Pear trees and Fig Tree dropped off early on. Hopefully this will lead to good crops next year. I am plagued with slugs and just cannot grow Dahlias or my favourite Lupins in the ground. I have some in pots which is better than nothing. I may try raised beds of some sort next year. 

The project of planting fruit and Veg with the schoolchildren of Passage east N.S. worked out very well. The parents also became involved and now do a lot of the heavier work. We love growing things that most of us don't try at home such as Khol Rabi, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Beetroot, Artichokes and Courgettes. The children continue to have their own plots at home and are enthusiastic young gardeners.

It wasn't my best year for roses. I think I neglected them a bit. I'll make it up to them this coming season. That's the great thing about gardening, looking forward to the changes, the new chances to try again and the weather lottery. Lots of small wasps around still but nobody I know has been stung.

 

 

TheH (Hazel) TheH (Hazel) 29 October 2013 18:37:58

Lovely healthy veg!

May 14th 2010.

14 May 2010 20:38:52

Sorry that I have not been in touch. I have been dipping in from time to time to see what Gerry's advice is and to see what you are all doing. I adopted two little pups and they have been keeping me occupied and destroying the garden but I think I have them under control now. At six months of age I can't expect too much.

My school garden project has been a great success so far. I will take some pictures over the weekend and explain what we are doing. The parents have entered into the spirit  of the thing and are giving their children real encouragement as well as starting little plots in their own gardens.

Diana Diana 14 May 2010 22:17:10

 What a great thing to do for the children.  Hopefully it will give them the love of gardening for life.  I know it did me.  It was a few more years ago than I care to remember but the teachers name was Mr. Richardson and he was terrific. Hopefully your pupils will remember you in years to come with the same thankfulness.

Johnplotman Johnplotman 15 May 2010 08:39:54

You will have all those young school children,good gardeners John.I had a small girl of six years of age down doing some sowing earlier in the week.You may have them already John,but if not what i let a group of young gardeners [relations] do was to start some carrots called Rainbow.They will come up in different colours.Great to encourage young children to gardening.Good luck again.

Johndamian Johndamian 15 May 2010 21:35:18

Thank you both for your encouraging comments. I never heard of rainbow carrots. They are bound to cause a stir. I will look for them on Monday.

unagrant unagrant 17 May 2010 11:01:30

It's a lovely idea for the school.  Good luck with it all.

November 2nd.

02 November 2009 14:00:03
a challenging site.

a challenging site.

We  got the small plot tilled before the rain came this morning. So the daffs will go in at the next chance.  The bigger plot is very narrow and long with two ESB poles that will not be moved. I suppose they present an opportunity for climbing plants....?

fran m fran m 02 November 2009 14:52:18

John, if the veg are going into the above site, put wires accross the ESB poles and grow peas or beans on themm

Dahlia Dahlia 02 November 2009 19:31:06

Thats a brill idea Fran, i wonder is it allowed, eventhough i see a lot of climbers trained on poles.it would be a great way on saving space as the plot looks small.

Johnplotman Johnplotman 02 November 2009 20:19:17

Along with what Fran says John,maybe around the pole you could also try a wigwam of bamboo canes for either of those veg mentioned,and maybe a light piece of timber on the railings in places to allow you support more of the bamboos along the way for some tomatoes.

Johndamian Johndamian 03 November 2009 11:23:46

I think you are all correct about using the poles for growing vegetables . At least they will not get as tall as a clematis or similar climber . Im reluctant to use the railings as there is a public footpath outside and I would like to keep things out of arms reach but tomatoes would be lovely.  The plot is small Dahlia. It is only 2meters-80 cm wide but it is 18 meters long.

Mairin Mairin 26 December 2009 17:49:11

Clever idea about the veg.  But be careful as the ESB are a bit pricky about people near "their property". 

November 1st.

01 November 2009 23:26:17
One of my infrequent entries. Haven't even visited the site for days....Halloween, Children home from college, visitors etc.  I have been asked by my local primary school to help get them started with their first school garden. We have dug over a nice sized plot near the front of the school and tomorrow I will be arriving with compost and we will dig it in. Then later in the week all the children will plant their own daffodil bulbs and look forward to a lovely show in Spring. The staff have set aside a long narrow plot for vegetable and fruit growing. This we will have to work and feed to have it ready for the new year. They have requested raised beds for each of the four classroom units. There will also be room for Herbs and annuals. I am going to give the children a selection of crops to choose from before making up a plan. Has anyone any idea of the best veg and fruit to grow, taking into account that we need to see some results before the end of June and . Also are there crops I should avoid, I am already ruling out plants with sharp thorns. I will take some pictures tomorrow.
Joybells Joybells 02 November 2009 01:01:44

Johndamien, Radish and 'cut and come again' lettuce would be quick and succesful for children to grow. Beetroot and strawberry plants, peas and dwarf runner beans...all quick and easy...sounds like a brilliant project...best of luck!

Cloncaw Cloncaw 02 November 2009 01:03:24

What a great idea to get children into growing their own,understanding where their food comes from, learning so much about nature and gaining life skills.

J.D. J.D. 02 November 2009 07:39:11

Great stuff John. That should you keep you out of trouble for a while, ha ha.

Johndamian Johndamian 02 November 2009 11:38:18

A parent met me at the school this morning and said he would drop in, a load of farmyard manure later in the week. O Lord! what have I left myself in for?

Gismo1981 Gismo1981 02 November 2009 13:44:54

Great idea a lot of the schools in Laois are invovled in the Green Schools and have garden areas.  I think its a great learning experience for them :O)

Dahlia Dahlia 02 November 2009 16:27:29

John thats a great gift to get, but i can see where you are coming from, good luck, the children are very fortunate to have you teach them these lifeskills. They will  remember the practical learning longer.

Rachel Rachel 02 November 2009 17:37:05

Great stuff, John. I've had some involvement with the local school's growing project. Second and third class have grown vegetables for two years running in raised beds. I think you already have the suggestions for what to grow. However, I would also recommend pumpkins, provided someone will come and water over the summer. It's nice for the kids to have something to look forward to in their plot when they come back in September. Our local school kids garden in pairs. It's so funny to see kids actually fight over peas when normally parents can't get anything green into them : ) Best of luck. Oh, and  don't foget to keep back-up plants to surreptitiously replace the ones that die!

Johndamian Johndamian 02 November 2009 19:50:14

Thanks for the suggestions. The back up plants could be vital. I have noted Joybells' list . We will have to contend with two ESB poles in the garden. I presume we can grow runner beans on them or perhaps Clematis.

October 15th. 09.

15 October 2009 12:28:45

My brother gave me a present of some Bergenia Cordifolia on Tuesday (He was tidying up his garden). I planted them yesterday. I love those big leaves and the pink flowers are very welcome in spring. I planted a cherry (Stella) and a plum (Victoria) this morning along with a few additions to my soft fruit patch...more blackcurrants and gooseberries. This weather is wonderful and I am trying not to waste any opportunity without overdoing things. I used to have a lovely clump of Stachys "Lambs ears" but for the last two years it has looked ugly. I have cut it down and fed it but it looks neglected. Perhaps I will dig it all up...divide and replant in a different area.Any suggestions?

Krista Krista 15 October 2009 12:46:05

I've got some fresh Stachys from cuttings this year. My daughter calls it "rabbits years" and strokes it everytime she sees it(she's almost 3). It roots and grows incredibly fast so I would suggest to take some cuttings and by next spring you will have young beautiful plants to plant out. I think old stachys always looks a bit shabby.

Mairin Mairin 16 October 2009 00:38:15

I agree with Krista - those cuttings would grow practically anywhere.

J.D. J.D. 16 October 2009 23:05:49

Did you get those fruit bushes in Aldi, John. I sent my Dad to get them for me while I was in work and they were all gone. I was looking for the Stella cherry. Ah well, maybe next year.

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