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!
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 polytunnel really shines. As the sun comes out, there is a bit more heat and gentle growth in your greenhouse. 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 polytunnel really pays off. There is nothing as discouraging as seeing all your young plants destroyed due to a damaged structure after a windy night.
Polydome polytunnels 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 is a quiet time for tunnel growing and an ideal opportunity to sit back to relax and reflect. However, it can quickly become the most exciting time of the year as you begin to plot and plan for the coming year. When we make plans, we are filled with hope and excitement. We all know the best of plans can go a bit awry at times, but looking forward to a new season is always exciting!
First, I would look at what it is you wish to reap from your polytunnel or garden. Would you love lots of beautiful flowers? Your favourite salad items? Hearty winter veg for storing? Make a list of what you would like, and then check to see what growing conditions they require. The beauty of a polytunnel is that the growing season, yield, and produce quality are greatly increased. They can be increased even further using extras such as a heated bed for seedlings, frost protective fleece, or internal cloches.
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 efforts.
Don’t forget to look at the final size of what you are going to grow, including the height. Taller plants can be supported best in the centre of your tunnel unless you have straight sides. 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 cabbage or kale and shouldn’t be placed near potatoes as they are both susceptible to blight.
So, it’s time to get out your pen and paper, plot out your beds and start dreaming! Then make your dreams a reality. Life is an adventure and so is polytunnel gardening!
Polytunnel’s should be cleaned at least once a year, maybe more if your Polytunnel is nearer trees as it will probably have algae forming on the outside and debris from the trees falling onto it. There are different ways in which to clean your tunnel. Here are a few helpful tips :-
If you get a bucket of warm water and add a small drop of washing up liquid, you will then be able to use a soft brush to clean the tunnel, for the bits you cannot reach get an old bed sheet and with a person each side of the tunnel gently go along the tunnel. Be careful not to do anything that will scratch the cover as this will reduce the light transparency.
Hi all just a quick reminder in this cold weather. You might not be in mood for entering into the garden, however if you’re the proud owner of a greenhouse i would recommend it, Why? you might ask.
Well certainly for those in the east who are encountering the most snow fall at present they will find that a certain amount is building up on the roof of your greenhouse. At first glance it may seem harmless; however it might be worth noting that potentially it could do more damage than you might think.
For example, the weight of freshly fallen snow is approximately 100 – 150 kg / cubic meters. And once it has fallen on a solid surface the effect of compaction due to its own weight the wind and other additional factors rapidly increases the weight of the snow.
To put it in context if the roof of your greenhouse had a surface area of 16m squared, and we received 50mm of snow which is about two inches, you would have .9 of a cubic meter of snow on your roof. This equates to approximately 80 – 100kgs. If this snow freezes the weight on the roof increases. Depending on the model of greenhouse that you own, it’s worth noting this may affect the structure of the greenhouse.
To avoid any damage or the possibility of a complete collapse of the greenhouse I would recommend that you clear it of snow as it builds up. Please note that this is perfect excuse for going out to throw snow balls, so thankfully it’s not all bad news.