March- Propagation time!

It’s March and high time to start some seeds! Here are a few tips for success.

    1)Unless you are sowing directly into the soil, having a bench that is the correct height is a must. This saves your back and also allows you better precision when sowing tiny seeds that are difficult to see.

    2) Next, follow the instructions on the packet. Not all seeds are sown in the same way.

    3) There are several factors involved in triggering a seed to germinate. These include light, temperature and moisture. At this time of year, the temperature is too low for certain seeds, so using a heating mat or heating cables in sand can speed up germination, resulting in a stronger plant.

    4) It is a good idea to label everything clearly as you go along. This can avoid confusion later on when the little darlings start to emerge and you don’t know who is who! It is also a good idea to record when and what you sow in a notebook or diary for future reference.

    5) A seed is a tiny miracle that contains everything it needs for life. However, once the outer coat has been broken down, the emerging seedling is very vulnerable until it has formed sufficient root to acquire moisture and nutrition for itself. At this stage it is vital that it isn’t allowed to dry out. Here are some ways to ease your seedlings through this delicate stage:

      *Pre-water the growing medium well.

      *Partially cover seed trays with polythene or glass (allowing some air flow) to retain moisture.

      *Gentler forms of watering such as using a watering can with a rose, overhead irrigation, drip lines or capillary matting are
      preferable to using a garden hose on young plants. (Of course, the more vigorous plants like peas and beans will withstand much more than a delicate cactus seedling.)

    6) Did you know that keeping your young plants up on shelving isn’t just for convenience? It also serves to protect them from pesky mollusks. Yes, slugs and snails. They love damp, dark corners to hide in during the day, saving their energy to come out and graze all night. So, keep your root babies as far away from them as you can!

    Best of luck to everyone who is setting out to sow seeds for the first time or the 50th time!

February- Is it Spring yet?

As the days start to get longer, a new season is here and signs of life are starting to appear all around us. The sight of snowdrops and daffodils remind us that the years march on regardless of what else is happening in the world around us.
On beautiful days when the sun gives that early spring glow we can feel that the year has turned and are tempted to sow something. The reality is, though, that we can still have plenty of wintery weather ahead of us at this stage and it is too early to start anything without protection.
This is the time of year where a greenhouse really shines. As the sun comes out, there is a bit more heat and gentle growth in your glasshouse. With a heated seed bed, you can begin to start your tomatoes, peppers, lobelia, lettuce, onion or pea plants. If you are into bedding plants, you can start lobelia, salvia or sweet pea. Electric heaters or frost protection fleece will help protect your young seedlings from the elements even further.
It is also at this time of year that having a well-built glasshouse really pays off. There is nothing as discouraging as seeing all your young plants destroyed by a toppled greenhouse after a windy night.
That is why our Griffin and Janssen greenhouses are built to last and withstand the unpredictable Irish weather to give you peace of mind.
So enjoy the season and being one step ahead of the elements!

January- A Time to Plan


January is a quiet time in the garden and an ideal opportunity to take a break. However, it is also possibly the most exciting time of the year because it’s time to plot and plan for the coming year. When we make plans, we are filled with hope and excitement. The plants, flowers, or vegetables that we plan to grow are always perfect in our plans. We all know the best of plans can go a bit awry at times but looking forward to a new season is always exciting!

Some people don’t plan as much as others. Your year may be informed by an impromptu garden centre visit and what catches your fancy there. And that is, of course, how we discover new things and embark on new journeys. But planning has its uses, too.

First, I would look at what it is you wish to reap from your greenhouse or garden. Is it flowers? Your favourite salad items? Something exotic? Make a list of what you would like, and then check to see if it is viable to grow here. The beauty of a greenhouse, especially with extra treatments such as a heated bed, frost protective fleece or shade netting, is that the possibilities are greatly increased. Then it is time to look for seed or planting material. You may be able to source them locally, but there is also an astonishing variety of seed available online. You could wow your friends and neighbours with unusually coloured varieties of tomatoes, French beans, courgettes or even strawberries that you would not find in your local supermarket. There is nothing like salad leaves, spinach or sugar snap peas that have just been freshly harvested from your own glasshouse. Fresh bouquets of aromatic sweet pea or carnation on your table are a luxury you can easily enjoy with a bit of foresight.

Don’t forget to look at the final size of what you are going to grow, including the height. Also, some plant combinations make better companions than others. For instance, tomatoes work well with garlic (to repel aphids) or basil (to improve flavour) but won’t thrive as well next to fennel or kale.

So, it’s time to get out your pen and paper, plot out your area and start dreaming! Then make your dreams a reality. Life is an adventure and so is gardening!

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