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Margaret's Blog

 

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Schools Competition Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secret to Success:

Ensure the soil is warm. Warm up your soil by covering it with black plastic a few weeks prior to planting. Those extra degrees will translate into earlier tomatoes. If you are planting in a pot or growbag, put a sheet of aeroboard/polystyrene underneath. This is a much warmer environment for the root system by creating a barrier between cold soil and roots (and also a great way to re-use aeroboard).

An exception to the rule, tomatoes can be buried deeper than they come in the pot – all the way up to the first few leaves. Tomatoes are able to develop roots all along their stems. If you can't dig a deeper hole, simply dig a shallow tunnel and lay the plant sideways. It will straighten up and grow towards the light!

Pinch and side shoot tomatoes regularly. Remove suckers that develop in the crotch joint of two branches (picture)

 

 

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Mulch your tomatoes after the soil has had a chance to warm up. As tomatoes love heat. Mulching conserves moisture and prevents soil and soil-borne diseases from splashing up on to the plants.

If planting in a pot, Place pot near warm wall as the heat is reflected from this

Remove leaves from the bottom 1ft of the stem. These are usually the first leaves to get disease and fungus problems.

Water regularly to keep the soil/compost evenly moist. Feed every 10-14 days with a good organic tomato feed , changing to feeding every 5-7 days once the first fruits start to set. Grow Basil at the base of your tomato plant! This will act as a mulch, and is naturally a great combination plant for tomatoes.

A few marigolds planted in close proximity will help keep your tomatoes free from insects Greenfly & Whitefly If you do happen to get a few insects on your plants, you can boil up some garlic from your kitchen in water, allow to cool and use this as a spray.

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Growbags can be difficult I'm not a big fan of growbags for the growing of tomatoes, especially when the growbag is left flat and is planted with three tomatoes. To me, it's far too shallow and plants are difficult to maintain from the point of view of watering. A far better idea is to grow the tomato plant in a pot, approx 50cm in diameter, and use John Innes multipurpose compost. For better depth, cut growbags in half and you have two upright plastic pots.

Sungold - yellow fruit, medium sized, fantastic flavour!

Alicante - medium sized, good old fashioned flavour!

Money Maker - red medium sized, very hardy

Shirley - medium sized with a great taste!

Tumbling Tom - trailing variety, great for containers!

Try a hanging basket of tumbling toms. A great way to grow this little beautys

tumbling tom red tomato

 

 

blueberry plant

 

Blueberries So simple to grow and so good to eat. These berries are absolutely delicious whether eaten fresh or cooked. They grow to approximately 1 metre high, or a little lower if grown in containers. The best soil to use grow the plants in is a lime free compost, with some slow release tablets added. Here's a useful tip: it is best to grow two varieties of blueberry to get good pollination! Always plant your blueberry in Ericaceous compost. This is really the only requirement. It is such a hardy plant that it will survive what ever our weather throws at it Go on! Rediscover the good life – growing fruit is easier than you'd think!

 

Strawberry Strawberries large

Anyone for Strawberries? Homegrown strawberries taste amazing and are so easy to grow – but, not in the ground! I have found it much easier, and an abundance of fruit had grown, when I grew my strawberries in growbags, in hanging baskets and in raised beds. When strawberries are grown up high they won't get attacked by slugs. Why not grow a few strawberries in a high plastic container, recycle an old drum and cut holes in it and plant strawberries through the holes on top of the container as well. You will have a wonderful crop of great tasting strawberries in no time! A really tasty variety is Elan. This is a professional variety for the demanding amateur grower. It has been given the title of gourmet strawberry. Up until recently, this variety was exclusively available to the professional grower, so it's a real delight to finally be able to offer this on the domestic market! Both of these fruits are Granny Griffins favorite ingredient for her scones. If you would like more advice with tomatoes or any gardening advice, please feel free to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Muintir na Tire Launch Cork School Garden Competition at Griffins Garden Centre.

Pictured at the Launch of the Muintir na Tire Cork School garden competition. Included are Margaret Griffin Miriam Dillon and 'Queen Bee' Jennifer Cotter of Griffins Garden Centre, Bee keepers Ben Philpott and Noel Riordan. Cork County Council officials Louis Duffy, Dr.Mary Stack and Conor Nelligan. Deputy County Mayor Kevin Conway, Donal O'Leary Macroom and District Environmental Group, Pupils and teachers of Scoil Chroí Iosa Blarney, Banteer NS and Aghabullogue NS. Sean Holland Denis Kelly and Seamus Forde Muintir na Tire.

The Muintir na tire Cork School garden competition was officially opened by Deputy County Mayor Kevin Conway last monday in Griffins Garden Centre Dripsey and many primary schools across the County have already entered their school garden in the competition. Muintir na Tire, Cork County Council and the team at Griffins created a Real buzz at the official Launch of the Competition.

Ted Walsh Emma Hughes and Erin Hickey and Deputy Mayor Kevin Conway having fun making 'Bee Friendly Seed Bombs' with Queen Bee Jennifer Cotter at the Cork School Gardens Competition Launch

 Deputy Mayor Conway  said he personally and the County Council were delighted to be associated with this great initiative that helps children to learn the importance of nature and growing your own food while at the same time staying active. Margaret  Griffin and and her team were on hand to gave the children and teachers lots of invaluable advice in Fruit and Vegetable Gardening ,

Pupils from Aghabullogue NS Anna O Leary James Lane and Michelle Murphy learn how to grow potatoes in containers watched by Queen Bee Jennifer Cotter and Dr. Mary Stack Environmental Awareness Officer Cork County Council at the launch of the Muintir na Tire Cork Schools Garden Competition
Erin Hickey Emma Hughes and Ted Hickey show Louis Duffy head of the Environment Directorate Cork Council the art of growing potatoes in a bucket.

Special guest included the children and teachers of Scoil Choí Iosa Blarney, and Aghabullogue and Banteer National schools where they got  the opportunity to Meet and chat with local beekeepers Ben Phillpott and Noel Riordan and learn the importance of Bee friendly Gardening. The children  learnt the fun of guerrilla gardening. The queen Bee Jennifer Cotter taught the local kids how to make bee friendly seed bombs. When they throw the these bombs in to wasteland, the seeds will germinate into a wonderful bee friendly flower patch .

Queen Bee Jennifer Cotter with Pupils of Banteer NS. Rachel Collins Aoife O Connor and Nicola Corkery learning how to make Bee Friendly 'Seed Bombs' with Deputy County Mayor Kevin Conway

A real Favourite with the children was the Bee Mobile at Griffins.  To celebrate the work of the bees and pollinators the vibrant bee mobile at Griffins was unveiled. This is a fun bright display that portrays the importance of bees to our environment. This year Griffins are awarding a special award for the best 'Bee friendly School Garden' and the Bee mobile was a great attraction to all at the launch. Margaret Griffin and the Local beekeepers  have asked all schools to help protect our bees and Plants Bee friendly gardens. Her message is simple. Plant flowers and bees will follow. Through the Cork Schools garden competition , Muintir na Tire Griffins and Cork county Council will  reward schools for their hard work with biodiversity and bee friendly gardening

Buzzing about bees  Local Beekeepers Noel O Riordan and Ben Phillpot take a well earned rest by the 'Bee Mobile' during the launch of the Cork School Garden Competition for Primary Schools in County Cork 
Dr. Mary Stack Environmental Awareness Officer of Cork County Council pictured at the 'Bee Mobile'

Dr. Mary Stack Environmental Awareness Officer of Cork County council encouraged schools to rethink, repair, refurbish along with reusing & recycling items in their garden as this is very important for the environment. 

Conor Nelligan Heritage Officer and Dr Mary Stack speaking at the launch at the Launch


Conor Nelligan Heritage urged schools to think Biodiversity when gardening. He particularly suggested the inclusion of natural hedges, log piles, bird boxes, bird tables, wildflower meadows, nature-trails and the use of native flora.

Mr Séan Holland of Muintir na Tire who heads up the organising team speaking at the Launch

Sean Holland of Muintir na Tire who co-ordinate the competition thanked Cork County Council and Griffins Garden Centre for all their support in organising the Competition. He said that Garden Categories for 2017 will  include Edible Garden, Biodiversity/Wildlife Garden, Up-Cycling Art and colour Garden, Mixed Garden,   Small Garden, Best New Garden , Innovation and Creativity and the overall best  Pride of County Cork Garden  for which  all  schools will be automatically judged.

 He said children and teachers can  Log on now to www.muintir cork.com to register your school for the 2017 School gardens competition. He said the website  and the School Gardens Blog are filled with great advice and inspiration for school kids and teachers alike. Sean said that all schools big and small should enter the competition. 'dont worry if your garden is in its early stage you should still enter and learn as you go along'.

All photos by Timmy Griffin

For more information please contact Denis Kelly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone 0872034876

 

Potty about Potatoes
potato-plant
There are so many different potato varieties, usually described as early, second early and maincrop potatoes.These names indicate when they crop and also give you an idea of the space you'll need, how closely and when they can be planted.

First Early :

First early potatoes are perfect if you want to grow small, new potatoes and should be planted from the end of February to late May. They'll be ready to harvest in about 10 weeks from the planting date. It's a good idea to 'chit' these varieties before planting - this produces long shoots from which the plants will grow. First early potatoes are ideal for growing in potato patio planters or containers. If you are short on Space and would love to Grow Potatoes The PotatoPot is ideal for you.
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A few of our most popular First earlies are 

Sharpes Express,: ‘Sharpe’s Express’ is a favourite early in Ireland for good reason. It is unusual amongst ‘earlies’ in that it is a floury potato . Ideal for steaming

HomeGaurd :  a superior potato with excellent flavour

Pentland Javeiln: A lovely soft waxy-textured new potato with white skins and flesh that is ideal for boiling as a salad or new potato

 It's also worth remembering that earlies are less likely to encounter pest problems as they're lifted so much earlier in the year. 


SECOND EARLIES
Second earlies take 16 to 17 weeks to mature after planting, so you should be able to harvest them from very late June through to the start of August. 

Kestrel - An exhibition winner – with outstanding taste 
Pink Fir Apple – Wonderful nutty flavour – RHS Award
 British Queen : This  variety is over 100 years old and still highly prized for its yield, shape, floury texture and delicious flavour.


Maincrop 
Maincrops are ready 18 to 20 weeks after planting, so they can be lifted usually from July through to October. Maincrops take up the most space in the garden, but they tend to be the best varieties to grow if you want some for storage.

 Sarpo Mira : Blight resistant winner:  unprecedented blight resistance, good slug resistance and it grows well in a wide range of soils. Potato 'Sarpo Mira' produces huge yields of tasty, floury tubers that have a long storage potential. 

Cara : An allotment Favourite:  Excellent for baking and Chipping. 

Rooster: the good old favourite in Ireland . Its the most widely grown potato in Ireland Ideal for the novice gardener


How to chit : Chitting simply means encouraging the seed potatoes to sprout before planting.. Start Chitting Now . Each seed potato has a more rounded, blunt end that has a number of 'eyes'.  Stand the tubers with the blunt end uppermost in trays or old egg boxes, with plenty of natural light . Keep this room cool.   The potatoes are ready to be planted out when the shoots are 1.5-2.5cm (0.5-1in) long.


How to plant

Plant your chitted potatoes when the soil has started to warm up, usually from ST PATRICKS DAY.  
Plant early potatoes about 30cm (12in) apart with 40-50cm (16-20in) between the rows, and second earlies and maincrops about 38cm (15in) apart with 75cm (30in) between the rows. 
Handle your chitted tubers with care, gently setting them into the trench with the shoots pointing upwards, being careful not to break the shoots. Cover the potatoes lightly with soil. 
As soon as the shoots appear, earth up each plant by covering it with a ridge of soil so that the shoots are just buried. 
You need to do this at regular intervals and by the end of the season each plant will have a small mound around it

Every Gardener should grow the potato tree
 
Solanumn Glasnevin
The potato tree, Solanum crispum 'Glasnevin'  is a plant I wouldn't be without. Also The Solanumn Alba.  These are incredible Climbers that flower so well.  
solanum  glasnevin chilean potato tree pruning
 
This Beautiful Image of this wonderful tree is by Simon Davis from his vibrant, informative blog  http://lifebetweentheflowers.blogspot.com/
Photo Reference: Solanum crispum, Chilean potato plant By Simon Davis

Hello Spring.

Spring has arrived and it is time to begin preparing your school garden. Through out  the school year Griffins Garden Centre, Muintir na Tíre and Cork County Council will be posting various blogs with quick top tips, proven winning formulas and advice for  School Gardens in Cork . If you wish for advice on any part of your school garden, please feel free to email Margaret or Miriam in Griffins Garden Centre, Dripsey at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. or call us on 021 7334286

Each year we all ask, Where to Start?Take a walk around the School Garden, take photos, notes and be creative.  
Many garden projects are created with a Mood Board for your Garden. This is just a board with pictures of your space and images you find of garden ideas that you would like to do in your school garden.  Then decide how to get this project done, who can we get materials from, can we get external help with the manual labour, what can we plant and when to start planting. 

 Sow and Grow 2017 is open now and accepting applications from schools across Ireland! This is a primary school based campaign. Early registration gives teachers the best chance of receiving a free growing kit, with seeds,soil and instructions and, of course, loads of support from GIY.  Apply now at giy.ie 

Ask the local commuinty groups if they would like to help, Mens shed, tidy towns and active retirement as well as the parents can be a great local resource. 
Also you maybe able to get older compost for local fruit and vegetable growers. 
What to do in your Garden over the next few weeks?
 
Get Organised
Collect Toilet Roll Inserts for biodegradable pots , plastic water bottles  for watering or for upcycling Containers. 
Get Cleaning, spring clean glass houses, polytunnels, raised beds etc. 

If you already haven't, get well rotted  (at least 2 years old) farm Manure or Fresh Compost into the Garden Beds

Do you have a compost heap? Its a great time to get one started.

 

Have you a water butt? Is it near the School garden? What can we use as a Water Butt?Start Chitting you first early Potatoes 

  • Chitting simply means encouraging the seed potatoes to sprout before planting. 
  • Start chitting from late January in warmer parts of the country or in February in cooler areas, about six weeks before you intend to plant out the potatoes. 
  • Each seed potato has a more rounded, blunt end that has a number of 'eyes'. 
  • Stand the tubers with the blunt end uppermost in trays or old egg boxes, with plenty of natural light.

 

 

Save the bees with seed bombs:
Make a seed bomb with soil, compost and bee friendly seeds. allow them to dry. when it gets alot warmer, get the kids to throw these seed bombs into a Wasteland  area and watch these bloom 

 

DIY Pebble Art 5 2
Be creative and start making your labels for flowers, trees shrubs and plantsI hope this will help you to get started in your school garden and remember please reach out to Griffins Garden centre if you would like any advice at all. 
Happy Gardening from all the team at Griffins

To plant a Garden is to believe in tomorrow

The key to a successful school garden is in the planning. No matter the size and style of your garden, you will need to answer important questions about who will use the garden, where it will be located in order to sustain the plants you plan to grow, and how it will be maintained

Where to start ?

This is a lot to do with the space the garden is been created. The size of the garden, the soil type and the location.

Location ideally your garden should be getting 5-6 hours of sunlight. If you garden is located in a dark corner, it will make it much more difficult. Keep an eye on the direct sunlight for a few days to get an idea of the garden. If it is in a semi shaded area then you will be able to grow shade tolerant plants and herbs. Ideally you will be hoping for a south facing garden.

The soil: Is it a hard or soft surface. When planting a vegetable garden raised beds can be a lot easier and can be placed on either hard or soft surfaces. Be creative creating a raised bed. There are great products on the market. If you have budget restrictions you can create raised beds with up cycling. Parents, Local mens sheds and other organistaions may be a great resource to do this part for you.

Access to water. It is a good idea to try a position you school garden near to an outside tap for ease of watering. But an alternative is to harvest rain water.

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Small Garden.

Even if you have a small garden, you can have great success?

Firstly plan what you would like to achieve. Vegetable garden, sensory garden, Bio diversity garden or elements of all.

Look at the whole area. How much ground space has the garden. Is there a wall or fence that can utilised or can one be erected. Vertical gardens are an alternative for gardeners who don't have a lot of horizontal space or want to cover an un attractive wall.

Vertical gardening can save a lot of space. A few ideas for vertical gardening is a Living wall, Hanging baskets (for vegetables and herbs) wall hanging containers like pots, hayracks, drainpipes or unusual containers like wellies, bottles or shoe organisers. See images below for inspiration.

photo2-e1335612674193

Container Gardening: Most trees and Shrubs and Vegetables can be grown in Pots and Containers. If you have a small Garden look at dwarf varieties. For example a cornet apple tree is a miniature tree. An old wheelbarrow can be a a lovely salad or herb container. (make sure it has lots of drainage) Window boxes for Salads, watercress , herbs, rainbow chard to name a few.

Climbing fruit and Veg up a wire fence : Peas, beans, cucumber, tomatoes , Trained blueberries, rasberrerries, Grapes

 

Top tip in small Gardens. Make sure that the containers and beds will get enough feed and water to produce a bounty for the season.

 

Rockery gardens. Most herbs including lavender are naturally rockery plants. They can grow in areas that other plants wont thrive as long as the have sunshine. There is varieties of ground cover thyme and rosemary that can be grown in between slabs and pavings. The release a fabulous aroma when stepped on. Too much traffic on these plant is detrimental to them.

 

Be creative, Use bold colours in a small garden. Create a garden that is big on Colour

unique garden ideas-2bag-plantersunique garden ideas-2 

Happy gardening

From all the team at griffins of Dripsey

 

If you would like any advice please email Griffins of Dripsey at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

 

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