Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre


WE are nearly a month ahead with emerging flowers and they are lasting longer than usual. Nobody can predict the future but it has been a great six weeks where we could head out and prepare for the coming growing season.


Emerging weeds

It is always good to get ahead with weed control. Annual weed seedlings are now emerging on freshly cultivated ground and need disturbing, hoeing or raking over to get rid of them, while established ones like nettles, docks, brambles and ivy are visible and need digging out. There is no real growth yet so this operation is a fairly easy operation.


Germinating seed

There is no need for specialist propagating equipment when sowing many seeds. We sow small amounts of seed and after watering in, we place them on a kitchen windowsill where the warm room will germinate most seeds within 10 days. Once the seedlings emerge transfer them to a cooler but well lit room until ready to transplant into individual pots or planted out.


Fruitful plants 

If space is limited I have always advocated planting a fruiting apple in place of an ornamental tree as the blossoms last longer than cherries, the plant can be kept small and you have some apples to enjoy later in the season. After that, come blackcurrants and Gooseberries, which are seldom offered in the shops as they are a nostalgic fruit from the past but one of each in the garden can be enjoyed by picking and eating them fresh when outside.



Planted areas called rockeries, with stones and small alpine plants, are still out of fashion and I am not sure if they will ever come back as they need more looking after. I do admire them and they are useful as edging on a low retaining wall when planted around 60cm (2’) apart. They are very hardy plants and all they need is free draining soil and placed in an open area.


Pleasure Leisure

People into plants would consider it a pleasurable occupation to be pottering around the garden where they would spend their leisure time. There seems to be a general trend where people are seeking ways to have more leisure time and they are not necessarily gardeners. I think there has to be a balance between work and leisure time and, while historically it was a six-day working week, the norm in some western countries is now the five-day week. On this whole matter I would class myself as out of kilter as I consider both work and leisure a pleasure, which is why I am happy in my occupation of horticulture.


One for the birds

Bird seed was not as popular this winter – it might have been a combination of the war in Ukraine pushing up the prices and it was also a mild winter. At home we only filled the feeders during the few cold spells as outside that we noticed the birds busy foraging in the wild. Having feeders close to windows where they can be viewed by housebound people continues to give great enjoyment to people or all ages.



Plots for vegetables or flowers in the ground can be dug up, turned over and left rough for the weather to break it down in preparation for planting from April onwards. The dry February meant that stocks of onion sets, shallots and seed potatoes are selling fast and will be unavailable in a few weeks’ time even though there is plenty of time to plant them. Use the dry weather to get your grass levels down to a manageable size and then give a treatment for moss, weeds and feed if that is needed. 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 article.

By Melanie Dool
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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