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Water / Watering

Vegetable Garden

10 Tips for looking after your vegetable garden in drought conditions

July 19, 2013

This is a blog post I never thought I’d be writing in Ireland! With talks of draught and heatwaves and temperatures reaching in excess of 27ºC which puts the country in a Status Yellow situation, our poor gardens are looking brown and withered. Last year the farmers were supplementing their livestock with feed due to constant rain, this year they’re starting to feed them nuts and grain to protect the grass. Climate change is playing havoc and we have to learn to adapt.

drought in gardenAs gardeners you might be wondering what you can do to protect your plants in the garden during these high temperatures. We’re not in a position to water as much as the garden requires – clean water is an exhaustible resource and there’s talk of these high temperatures continuing throughout the summer.

Many people on our island draw their water from wells and are already wondering how best to protect this precious resource as talk circulates of wells running dry. If you’re using a mains supply it pays to be cautious too as reservoir levels begin to dip. Under these conditions you might be asking yourself when is the best time to water plants? Should you mow your grass or be watering it? What else can you do to protect your garden from drought?  Continue Reading…

Vegetable Garden

How to sow Seeds: Hot Peppers

February 27, 2013

chilli pepper & tomatoesIf you like to eat chilli peppers, hot or otherwise, you might like to grow them… there’s nothing like picking a pepper off a plant that’s been growing on your kitchen windowsill, patio, greenhouse or polytunnel for freshness and flavour!

In the Greenside Up Feeling Hot seed collection range three region’s hot peppers have been represented from the Caribbean to Asia and Mexico. February and March are the best months of the year to sow the seeds in Ireland giving the plants a long growing period to form their spicy fruit.

recycled propagatorThe following YouTube clip explains how to sow seeds, propagator use, watering, seed  depth and compost requirements as well as showing you some ideas for using recycled containers to grow the seeds in.

If you have any questions after seeing the video please leave a comment below. For more tips, hints to help you in the garden along with chilli recipes, take a look in the Feeling Hot category of blog posts.

If you sow your seeds over the next few weeks you should begin harvesting, drying or preserving them from late July to August onwards.

Lifestyle, Vegetable Garden

Seeds and the Joy of Spring

April 7, 2012

True Leaves Form on a Brussels Sprout Seedling

I used to think I was an autumn kind of girl until I started gardening and discovered the joy of spring.

After a burst of activity that involves sorting through the seed tin, ordering new seeds and excitedly opening the post box when they arrive, life settles for a few weeks until the light  increases and the temperatures rise. Towards the end of February it’s time to get busy     again. A quick drive to the garden centre to buy fresh new seed compost, washing modules, making newspaper pots and sorting through the shed is quickly followed by the first seed sowing session.

Courgette (left) Crown Prince (right)

Most vegetable seeds bar roots can generally be started off in trays and modules – it gives them a head start, protects the tiny seedlings from slugs and snails and means that when the weather improves the seedlings can be transplanted to their final growing positions, shortening the growth period and freeing up space in the garden for follow-on crops (or in the case of tomatoes, giving them time to ripen and turn red!).

Heated Propagating Bench

This year was the first using my heated propagating bench and has been a delight to see. With the thermostat set at 18 – 20°C, the seeds have germinated much quicker than on my windowsills.

Each morning, as I pop outside in my PJs to open up the polytunnel for the day, allowing the fresh air to move around it, I’ve had the pleasure of observing the tiny stems  push their way through the

Cauliflower Seedling

Calendula Seed

compost, discarding their cozy seed shells like old jumpers that no longer fit. Each morning this spring I’ve started the day with a smile.

As the shoots quickly develop their first cotyledon leaves so that they can start the process of photosynthesising, feeding and urging the tiny seedling towards the light to grow bigger and stronger, this to me is a true sign of spring. I’m watching the wondrous birth of

Winter Squash

new life and its magical.

Once the seed leaves open fully, the true leaves start to grow, taking on the characteristics of their adult form. The roots get stronger and more prolific, giving you the nod that it’s time to move the seedlings from their tiny modules into bigger pots.

This is when you learn the importance of labelling as to an untrained eye, it’s impossible to tell a Brussels sprout from a cauliflower, or a ‘One Ball’ courgette from a ‘Crown Prince’ winter squash.

Holding the seed leaves gently and moving the seedlings into fresh, dampened multipurpose compost, allowing the little plants to take in more nutrients so they can continue their growth unchecked is a delicate task and forces you to slow things down – this is not a job to be rushed or you risk breaking the delicate stems.

Careful and regular watering throughout this period of growth will make sure strong, healthy plants are ready to transplant to their final growing positions in a few weeks time.

 

So I’m a Spring kinda gal. Do you share my delight of this season or do you prefer the heat of summer, the colours of autumn or the frosty mornings of winter?

 

Vegetable Garden

14 Tips for Watering Vegetables and Seedlings

May 7, 2010

Water Feature at the Delta Centre Sensory Gardens, Carlow

You may have noticed how all the plants started growing again recently after a few days of rain. Most vegetables benefit from a good soaking of the soil as water is taken up by the roots and then evaporated through the leaves. However, too much water can result in nutrients being washed out of their reach and encourages shallow, surface rooting. If you’re wondering if you’re watering vegetables or seedlings correctly, these tips might help.

Waterlogged Vegetable Garden

Waterlogging can result in plants dying as their oxygen source will be cut off. Generally, however, more water is lost through evaporation than through bad drainage.

No. 1: As a guide water thoroughly and gently. Don’t be tempted to put the hose on full blast on each plant for a few seconds or you risk damaging seedlings and young plants. You’ll also notice if you check the soil (stick your finger in it) that the surface area might be wet but the area you’re trying to reach (where the roots are) is still dry so aim to keep the top 20 cm of soil moist.

Watering Vegetable Plants and Seedlings

No. 2: Soaking the soil with about 10 – 15 litres per square metre per week will really benefit Brassica crops if it’s dry. Water directly to the base of the plant – an upturned cut off plastic drinks bottle propped in the soil next to an established plant (especially squashes and tomatoes) is great for sending water directly where it’s needed.

No. 3: Watering in the evening is also the preferred method, as the plants will absorb the water rather than losing it to evaporation, however this may attract slugs. In the morning the soil will be soft making for easier weeding. Make sure that the leaves are dry before nightfall however.

No. 4: Germinating seeds need water so always sow into moist soil or compost.

No. 5: One of the biggest killers of seedlings is watering incorrectly. They prefer to be watered from the base so stand them in trays and water the trays if possible. Alternatively use a watering can with a very fine ‘rose’ to prevent swamping the compost or try using a mister. Once compost has dried out it’s very difficult to wet it through again.

Watering Vegetable Plants and SeedlingsNo. 6: Fruit and flowering plants such as tomatoes, beans and cucumbers need water to encourage their fruits to swell so heavy watering at this stage will increase yields.

No. 7: Root crops need a steady supply of water – too much will result in more foliage rather than big roots so only water if the soil starts to dry out, increasing the frequency as the roots start to swell.

No. 8: Crops that are grown for their leaves – spinach, lettuce, cabbages, etc., need more water than root crops.

No. 9: Plants are more prone to fungal diseases if their leaves are watered rather than their roots.

No. 10: Dig in as much bulky organic matter (compost or well-rotted manure) to increase the water-holding capacity of the soil.

No. 11: strong>Mulch the soil surface after watering to prevent evaporation (add a layer of straw, compost or leaf mould on top of the soil and spread it around the plants).

No. 12: Avoid cultivating soil in dry weather, as it will bring moisture to the surface, which can then evaporate.

No. 13: Keep the soil as weed free as possible as the weeds will compete with the plants for water.

No. 14: Put up wind breaks. Wind dries the soil quickly, again increasing the rate of evaporation.

wind break fabric

 

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