Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
THERE is a pent-up demand to spend time outdoors and, this is a natural enough process after any winter cooped up inside. There is something special about being outside in the fresh air, especially when we have those warm, balmy and clear blue sky days.
I suppose it is the ‘cabin fever’ element which we are trying to escape from and, there are so many possibilities of what to do and create, if you have some space at the back of the house. It could be simply a place to have a quiet moment alone and, add to this somewhere to read, drink or chat – none of which need involve gardening. However, travel has been restricted for the past year and looks set to continue for a while so we are more confined to the home base and that’s is where people have started to take up some type of gardening.
I do know I tend to encourage new, inexperienced, casual and fine weather gardeners and, the more knowledgeable gardeners might feel left out at times. I suppose I do want to share the joy and pleasure I gain from getting close to the natural world and a large part of that is the satisfaction of growing plants and there are many people who have never dabbled much in gardening and I should like them to join in. I personally have gained much from gardening and still devour all types of information and quite often gain additional know-how this way.
For anyone into gardening I would initially keep away from becoming too specialized in one aspect of the hobby and, suggest a broad range of interests which might include lawns, cacti, house plants, roses, conifers, bonsai, vegetables, fruit, wildflowers and wildlife including a pond to name a few, not forgetting the usual mix of flowers, trees, shrubs and climbers. A special interest can come later and unless treated can develop into an obsession such as the ‘Galanthophiles’ a group who are mad…I mean mad about the intricate and minute differences in snowdrops!
What to do
I would suggest a dip into some vegetables such as spring onions, salads (so versatile) and patio tomatoes, leaving peppers and aubergines for another year. With fruit I would start with strawberries and perhaps a few pots of a mix of gooseberries, blackcurrants and blueberries. Instead of a cherry or other ornamental tree I would plant an apple for the beautiful blossom and reap the rewards of fruit later in the year.
The area in the front of the house is usually left for looks and not much used for leisure time or growing food crops. Therefore, this is the space to be planted with ornamental plants of all types. A mixture of flowers, bulbs, trees and shrubs will fit the bill but a hedge or fence might have to be installed first before you start. Sometimes an extra space is needed for a car but, it is usually possible to have an element of planting there also.
TIP OF THE WEEK
I am not a huge fan of planting readymade young vegetable plugs even though we have them in stock as, many of the root crops like carrots, parsnips or beetroot do not develop well after. I recommend you limit the plugs to salads and other above ground maturing vegetables. Onion sets are a good bet too as they can be used as salad onions all the way through to maturity but get them planted soon.
If you have any queries or comments you are welcome to share them with me on (051) 384273 or [email protected] and if of general interest I will include it in a future newsletter.