Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
PEOPLE come into gardening in many different ways and every now and then there are waves of newcomers to the hobby. There was the well known one in 2008/2009 when the recession arrived and, of course, the present coronavirus brought about another one.
There has and will be life changing situations when ‘this is all over’ and the lockdown has allowed many to take stock of their lives, and realise what is important and one of these is the discovery that there is huge enjoyment to be had from gardening. Of all the large numbers of people who have tasted gardening for the first time, there will now be another proportion who will remain permanent gardening enthusiasts.
There was a time and it is within living memory of many of us, that to grow vegetables was one of the lower forms of gardening, a pastime usually carried out by cottage owners and allotment holders. In the larger properties the vegetables were grown well away from the main house, so that the wheelbarrows, compost heaps and manures were out of sight. It is an odd prejudice as about 40% of gardeners grow at least some vegetables and this number has increased dramatically as it is now in fashion and it has the buzz words like ‘sustainability, organic, environmentally friendly and biodiversity’ all wrapped up in there to give it more credibility, if it needed that!
Mix n Match
Due to limited space some people have to have vegetables, fruit and flowering plants all mixed together in their plot of ground but I think even if you have the space that you should feel free to grow a variety of edible and ornamental plants together. I have long advocated growing an apple tree instead of an ornamental one, as it is as attractive as most others and you get fruit to eat later. The coloured salad crops are pretty anywhere and the rainbow Swiss chard is as beautiful as many ornamental perennials and, delicious too.
Gardening is or should be a fun experience and that should be the overriding factor in whatever activity you engage in your garden. It was not that long ago books of gardening rules were the mainstay of the industry and nobody questioned anything as it had been that way for centuries.
The change came in the 1970’s with the advent of newer technology and equally important was the realisation that most of the chemicals used were harmful to the environment and the animal world, including humans. Nowadays, any rules are a general guideline on how to go about one of the world’s favourite hobbies and after that you can free yourself from everything else and just enjoy pottering about in your garden.
Nothing stays still and the human mind continues to be inquisitive and with gardening there is no exception as there is so much to learn about the living world, even in your own plot of ground.
The ‘Gardening Bug’ can be infectious and there could be a danger of being a social outcast as you want to spend more time in the garden rather than being with your fellow humans. Ah well, it is all in proportion and while there will be times when you need to be in the garden a huge amount of time, that would be confined to the busy spring months, leaving loads of time to enjoy social interaction. Why not combine the two by meeting up in the garden as often as possible!
TIP OF THE WEEK
It is usually the last week of July before the first tomatoes are ready to eat but this year the first were picked on July 17. Our routine of watering these and all indoor plants regularly and giving them a feed twice a month ensures strong growth and subsequent flowers or fruit, which will continue until the end of October.
Fruiting trees will soon be forming buds for next year’s crops so, if there is some pruning to be done, try and complete this within the next few weeks.
If you have any comments, queries or questions then you are welcome to contact me at [email protected] and I will reply and if of general interest I will share it in this column.