Tag Archives: garden tips

Balanced Care For Brassicas

One of Margaret Maeve’s jobs is to inspect the brassicas for white butterfly eggs and caterpillars. We cover the young seedlings in bionet to protect them from birds and butterflies.

I always look forward to removing the netting when they grow larger and stronger–it’s much more visually pleasing to see their big green leaves stretching out and not confined under the white tunnels of fabric. Sure, it’s more work to inspect them every other day, but the bionet security blanket means weeks can easily go by without any inspection at all (out of sight, out of mind), definitely not benefiting the plants if there’s a problem that we’re not seeing. So it’s a combination of early protection and later inspection that has worked for us over the years to produce a fine crop of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, turnip and Brussels sprouts.

While gardening isn’t everyone’s idea of fun in nature, I hope you have your own way of connecting with the great outdoors and have plenty of opportunities to indulge yourself in it!

Cheers, Melissa Xx

Making your world a greener place

Try to ignore the dirty window, the geranium that needs deadheading and the video-bombing chicken. Instead, notice the recycled plastic bottle which, when filled with water and placed upside down into the soil, slowly hydrates the plants in our window boxes by way of drip irrigation. We use these homemade irrigators in the tunnel and in the tire planters also. It prevents the stress on plants that happens when the soil becomes too dry which often happens in containers causing plants to wilt and become weak and stunted. As the bubbles go up, the water drips out.

There is more than one way to make drip irrigation bottles…

When placed above the soil and upside down as shown here, the bottle cap can be left on the bottle and holes drilled into the cap for the water to escape (this we do with larger mouthed bottles). If you notice the drilled holes become clogged from the soil, try enlarging the holes and/or perhaps put a few small pebbles mixed with fine sand in the hole just where the cap sits. Another option is to remove the cap completely (which we do with smaller mouthed bottles– around the size of a quarter or one euro coin size). With both these options, the flat end/bottom of the bottle can be left as is or it can be cut off. When cut off, it becomes easier to refill the water as the bottle never has to be removed from the soil. The downside to this is that it needs refilling* more often– the upside is that if it’s being used outside then it will collect rainwater. *Refilling the water bottles is a great chore for children.

Another option is to make several holes in the bottle itself and bury it in the ground right side up with just the pour spout above the ground surface. Refilling with water is done via the spout. This option may be more aesthetically pleasing but it takes up valuable root space in containers.

Glass bottles could also be used without cutting off the bottoms or having a cap on. Wouldn’t wine, vodka or gin bottles be pretty? Pretty dangerous with the winds we have here on the island me thinks– empty plastic bottles have blown out of their containers so make sure to bury them deep enough if you too live in an area that’s prone to strong winds. 😀 And I’m certainly not suggesting you start drinking that much booze, haha! 😉

So whether you’re looking for a little help around the garden, an inexpensive solution to water your precious garden plants while on holiday or are just a recycling zealot, this practice will help to keep your world a greener place.

On Getting Your Hands Dirty: Keeping a Record

Swiss chard 2Time to hug last year’s Swiss chard goodbye and say slán to our edible rainbow. Their replacements won’t be ready to eat for another month but these guys bolted over a month ago and have also outgrown their beds here in the garden. First I picked another couple of meals for us and what remains is being enjoyed by the chickens.

Next, we’ll feed the soil they’ve occupied and plant something new. Perhaps courgette or celery or edible flowers, and rotate Swiss chard to new locations in the garden.

Crop rotation is important to prevent problems occurring with pests and diseases. Either a commitment to record-keeping or a very good memory is valuable here. I suggest writing it down. Write most garden information down. Isn’t there enough stuff and things taking up space in that head of yours already?!

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