FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. When can I plant? Is this the time fro planting? Can I plant now?
When planting trees, must there be an 'R' in the month?
A. You can plant anytime as long as the ground is not waterlogged or frozen over. Years ago when plants and trees were grown in the ground they could only be lifted and planted between November and February. Of course, Plants and Trees grown in containers can be planted anytime too.
Q. I'm afraid to plant trees near the house because of their roots. Are some roots worse than others?
A. Poplars, Cherries and Alders would have the thickest and most vigorous roots. Remember that roots of deciduous tree are deep rooting and won't cause as many problems as conifers. Conifers are shallow-rooting and dry out much of the ground around them. Trees are very important to our environment!
Q. How often do I water?
A. The very best guideline is to water when the plant is dry. Most people over-water so it is important to feel the compost to find out if it is wet or dry.
Q. What is the best plant for a porch?
A. Everything dies in the Summertime! From experience Geraniums are the best as they can withstand the variations in temperature. Other plants suitable for the Summertime are Bougainvilea, Abutilon and Clivia. Cyclamen, Azaleas, Primroses and Orchids all work quite well in Winter months as they can tolerate cooler temperatures.
Q. What should I feed a plant with?
A. Griffins advise that you feed with Slow-release plant food as it will last for six months. It releases the food slowly and evenly - "a little and often" being the best guideline. The way to use slow release food is to make sure it is under the ground or compost. For established plants sprinkle it on the ground and cover it with compost or farmyard manure. This is easier than digging the ground to get the food underneath. Also, fresh compost gives a lovely fresh appearance to the area. Rhododendrons and Azaleas have a special slow release food which is coated with iron.
Slow release can be used for everything. Consider it to be your back-up feeding system. Occasional feeds with potash are beneficial for Roses, Fruit Trees and anything flowering. Another advantage of Slow-release food is that you can use it any time of year - Winter or Summer - and this saves the frantic rush in Spring to get everything done!
Q. My Escallonia and Grisilinia hedging look very bad at the moment after our severe Winter. What should I do?
A. Both of these hedges are getting diseased in certain parts of the country. If your plant was OK going into the Winter and has just suffered from the severe weather conditions then it should come back to life. Feed with Slow-release food, mulch over with Farmyard Manure and wait to see if this does the job. If there is a possibility that your plants have suffered from the severe weather, treat with a fungicide e.g. Dithane.
Q. When should I prune?
A. The best guideline is to prune when a plant is finished flowering. For Spring-flowering plants, it is when the plants have finished flowering (usually early-mid Summer). For Summer flowering shrubs, late Summer or the following Spring should be a suitable time. Normally with Roses, tidy them up in Autumn/Winter and prune them in February or March.
A sharp secateurs is essential for a good clean cut. Blunt secateurs can wound and tear tissues of plants and bring about disease!
Q. Do you need to paint with compound?
A. New research has shown that a plant seals itself so a pruning compound is of no extra benefit other than serving a cosmetic purpose.
Q. There is a black, sooty appearance on some of my plants. What is this?
A. This is called sooty fungus. It is initially caused by greenfly and then the residue left on the leaves can develop into a fungus which is severe and can potentially choke the plant. What to do?
Spray with soapy water and this should soften the soot. Then spray with an insecticide. Spray on a regular basis for an entire season to make sure your insect problem is solved.
Q. I have a slug problem! Help!
A. All of our slug pellets have a bird & animal repellant in them. However, your pet or birds may eat a slug that still contains traces of the pellets which could potentially be dangerous.
There is a liquid slug killer which is really effective, and of course there are organic methods as well
e.g. Bear traps.
When distributing slug killer, remember again the golden rule: "use a little & often". A small amount will kill your slugs but you will likely have a new family of slugs by the following night!
Q. What is the best spray to use for Greenfly?
A. Spray with a good insecticide. 'Ready to use' type sprays are very convenient and effective as they are always mixed at the correct ratio! If you are using a concentrate, always follow the recommendations - most people are guilty of mixing too strongly.
When greenfly becomes a problem:
1st cut of silage (usually mid-May)
2nd cut of silage (usually mid-late June)
This is the time when greenfly becomes a problem, whether you live on St. Patrick's Street or on a mountain top!
Q. What is the best way to get rid of moss?
A. From a small lawn to the largest lawn, the two best products on the market are Maxicrop Feed & Mosskiller and Westland Weed, Feed & Mosskiller.
The golden rule here is to measure your lawn so that you are applying the treatment accurately (as outlined in the instructions).
Put out the treatment a little lighter and more frequently. By doing this you will avoid creating brown patches. Autumn treatment is of utmost importance - most people treat their lawns in Spring or Summer but neglect the crucial Autumn time. After-cut is a great product to keep your lawn in top class condition all summer long.
Q. There are weeds on the lawn. How can I get rid of them?
A. Like when treating moss, we again use the 3-in-1 and this will help control weeds as well. From then on spot-treat as well. The golden rule is to never allow your weeds to get into flower and they will pollinate all over your law, increasing your problems exponentially!
Q. What should I use to clean my decking and driveway?
A. We have found that most people are getting results from Patio Magic. It's easy to use - no power hosing or washing down surfaces involved. Keep the area clear of algae for a long time (even in dismal conditions like recent summers!)
Q. How do I care for my Tomato plants this year?
A. Plant in a good compost i.e. John Innes Multi-purpose Compost. Use a pot, grow-bag or plant directly into the ground. Margaret prefers to grow in pots rather than grow-bags. Water evenly and sparingly until tomatoes flower and more frequently after. Feed with tomato food and a little blood is also great for putting flavour in your tomatoes.
Did you know that if you grow Marigolds and Basil as companions for your tomatoes it works very well to keep insects such as greenfly at bay!
Q. When should I dead-head and how?
A. Margaret's golden rule: Never pass a dead-head and pick it off. It is much better and healthier to chop it off - and make this your routine!
How to do it:
With a scissors, secateurs or even your fingers cut the stem with the dead flower. Take some of the stem as well - approximately 3cm should do the trick.
Q. When can I put out my hanging baskets?
A. As soon as cold winds and frost have gone. Usually mid to late May.