February brought torrents of rain so it was a welcome sign of spring to see the sun shine at the beginning of March. Looking at the daffodils, crocuses, camellias and hellebores in full bloom and with a stretch in the evenings, we are all looking forward to getting out in our gardens again.
There are lots of things to do if the ground isn’t too waterlogged. Deciduous shrubs and trees can still be moved for next couple of weeks. I will cut back Cornus, clear weeds and add compost to beds. Most of my roses were pruned in November. However I have one that I missed and must get at it immediately. St Patrick’s Day has always been the cut off day for pruning them. I will divide over-sized perennial plants over next couple of months. I also need to cut back autumn raspberries and blueberries.
Begonias corms have been taken from their storage , potted up and put indoors. Seed potatoes are already chitting. First Earlies can be planted out later in the month. It’s time to look at sowing some seeds. March is a good time to plant beetroot, parsnips, turnips, carrots, french beans, broccoli, cauliflower and salad crops. These can be planted direct in the ground. Because my garden has heavy soil I am planting seeds for these vegetables in seed trays or small pots. I have put them in the greenhouse and when ready I will transfer into the vegetable patch. In previous years this worked much better for me. I’ve also sown tomato seeds, peppers and chilies. My favorite fruit in a fruit salad are Cape Gooseberries. Their seeds have been in the propagator a couple of weeks and no sign of growth yet. When harvested in August/October they last for a long time in the fridge. If you like them they are a well worth growing in the greenhouse, either in the ground or pots and take up very little space. I had some difficulty getting the seeds this year. Having no luck in three garden centers I was delighted to get them in Woodies.
It is important that the greenhouse is ventilated on a warm days. With the automatic roof openers, which are included in the price of all Landmark greenhouses, there is never any worry about this. The roof vents open and close automatically with cylinders filled with beeswax, depending on the temperature inside the greenhouse and are of great benefit. These cylinders should be taken out in the winter months as they may freeze.
My husband purchased a 16 X 12 greenhouse from Landmark in 2018- so this is our second growing season. We are delighted with both the product & the help & advice given by Tony at all stages of the process (before & after purchase) & particularly the ‘extras’- staging; louvres; auto-vents; powder coating; 4mm. glass & double doors being supplied as ‘standard ‘-with no ‘hidden extras. We live in Kerry-circa 2 KM from the sea & are subject to very severe south – west winds – so far, the greenhouse has withstood the efforts of several storms-most recently Storm Hannah-which decimated our apple blossom/crop for this year. He spent an entire winter researching greenhouse brands before deciding on Landmark & it’s the best available -both quality & price wise. The 6 ft. Eaves height (on the 16 x 12) & the reinforcement/brackets on the roof & eaves being a particular advantage. At present we have 2 grapevines; dwarf peach & nectarine; a fig tree (all with restricted root run- using 2-foot square recycled election posters) 15 tomato plants 4 aubergines & 4 peppers; basil etc. All growing away happily. The advice we got from other greenhouse owners was ‘get the biggest you can afford & accommodate-you will fill the space’- so true. The staging is also great for growing on Veg./ flower seeds prior to planting outside- so you get 2 months extra of growing time either side of the season. Tomatoes sown in February are now 5 ft. High & setting 5 trusses each. We couldn’t be happier with the product & service from Landmark.
I bought my 8′ by 14′ Landmark Greenhouse in March 2019. It is an extremely robust product and must be the best value for money greenhouse on the market.
The sturdy integral shelving provides a superb work area with loads of space for seed trays etc.
I am totally delighted with my choice and have no hesitation in recommending Tony Murphy and Landmark Greenhouses.
With the rain belting down all weekend any plans I had for gardening were put on the long finger. I planned to do some work on the Raspberry cage. So far, I have only grown autumn fruiting Raspberries. I cut back the canes to ground level a few weeks ago. However, last summer, I didn’t keep on top of suckers and wanted to remove as many as possible before the growing season. There was a break from the rain yesterday afternoon for about an hour and I decided to start. The ground was heavy and mucky. It was so cold I was almost glad when it started to rain again and to come inside. That’s one big job that’s still ahead of me. The ground will need to be cleared of all weeds also.
I have all my roses pruned, but that’s a job that needs to be done soon if not already done. St. Patrick’s Day was often known as the last date that roses can be pruned. I haven’t yet given the roses a slow fertiliser but should do so very shortly.
It wasn’t a wasted weekend. There were jobs that could be done indoors.
I put the seed potatoes in egg boxes for chitting indoors in front of a bright window. I will plant 4/5 seed potatoes in the greenhouse mid-March for earlier new potatoes. I bought these from Quickcrop for the last few years. What I love is that they sell trial packs of many different varieties. We have loved trying a few of these and seeing what new varieties we like and how they store etc. Our favourite variety last year for flavour and storage was Vivaldi. This is a 2nd early potato which stored so well and we ate the last of them only 2 weeks ago. The service and quality provided by Quickcrop is excellent. I Also bought onion and shallots sets from them. I put the onions and shallots in seed trays and will put them on the staging in the greenhouse next week. I did this last year and found it gave them a head start when I put them ground mid-March early April.
I also set my seeds today for lots of vegetables. I always do in small pots because of our heavy soil. I am late with Sweet Peas but they will come on fine, if a little later. I had thought I would sow some seeds last Autumn, but never got around to it. The dahlias have been taken from storage and are in the greenhouse. I will keep the Begonias indoors until the leaves are strong and then they can join the Dahlias. Both will go in the ground about May, depending on the weather.
So, all in all I got some things done which will leave me free to get back to the Raspberries and the many other jobs to be done this month once the weather takes up again. March is a busy month in the garden. Perennials need to be divided, summer flowering bulbs gladioli, lilies, croc Osmia etc need to be planted. Borders need feeding with chicken manure or something similar and compost or well-rotted manure needs to be dug in to the beds. It’s important to keep on top of the weeds. Dead head snowdrops, daffodils and early tulips but leave the foliage to die back naturally. Cut away any dead branches, shrubs and trees. Don’t forget to check fruit trees. We had a marvellous month of February and there is evidence of that with magnolias, camellias and cherry blossoms in bloom. The hellebores have given so much pleasure since Christmas.
As I look outside it is raining so hard it almost looks like sleet. From where I sit writing this the only pleasure is looking out the patio door at my barrow. My friend Kathleen had this made for me for my daughter’s wedding a few years ago. I wanted a display of flowers outside that looked a bit different and natural. I had ordered a barrow on line but hadn’t checked its dimensions. It was so small and was useless. She very kindly surprised me by having this one made. The wheel is made from a very large bamboo. It was exactly what I had hoped for and it looked stunning on the wedding day and has given us so such pleasure through seasons since then. This was definitely a present that keeps on giving.
Onions are a great crop for most gardeners. This year I didn’t grow any red onions because they didn’t last well in previous years. The shallots did well and they were harvested a month ago. At that stage, I was worried about the regular onions as they seemed very small. But in the last month they grew very well and it looks a great crop. I grew them under Envirogrid that I purchased from Quickgrow. I had put the onion sets in seed trays in the greenhouse to get them started as had found this fantastic the previous year. I had to hold from planting them in the ground until late April because of the wet ground. They were more than happy to be released into the ground. I found the Envirogrid fantastic as the onions needed no weeding at all.
It is quite easy to know when onions are ready for harvesting. The leaves start to turn colourful and flop over. Gently pull them by the neck or if necessary use a small fork. Drying onions, or curing onions as it is often called, is necessary before storing. I took half the crop out a week ago on a sunny day and left outside for two days to allow clay to dry. I brushed this off gently. Then I put them into the greenhouse for a week. The staging worked very well for this. Onions should be treated carefully. They bruise very easily and it’s best to handle them as carefully as you would handle eggs. I lined them up on the staging not letting them touch each other. After a week, I brought them into to the garage to dry them out on a flat surface as some of leaves were still green and the necks were still soft. When they are dry in approximately 2/3 weeks, I will hang them in the garage for the winter. It is important that they are completely dry before putting into storage.
I took the second half of the crop out yesterday when it was pouring rain. I felt there was little point leaving them out. Two tier Staging comes included in the price with all Landmark greenhouses. I also have a freestanding staging . I hung the last batch to dry in the garage. I know it’s preferable to give them a couple of days in the fresh air before taking them indoors but weather did not allow this. I’ll see how they compare to the earlier batch. I had a few onions that bolted and I will use these first as they won’t last.
I stored the onions in the garage. It has two windows and they are near the light at the moment, but when they are dry, I will hang them in a darker part of the garage. In fact this year I will cut the leaves off some of the crop and store them in plastic baskets. It will be easier to check on them and remove any that are in bad condition. If it goes below -4 degrees, I will need to take them into the house. In this case the baskets will be easier to manage.
It seems a long time since we sowed seeds and at last we are able to try some of the produce. The radishes, beetroot, carrots and delicious white turnip have been great. What didn’t do too well were the Spring Onions. They look miserable. In fact the seeds planted later are more advanced than seeds sown earlier. Leeks are coming along nicely. I plant the seeds in small pots. They seem to take ages to propagate and I felt they hadn’t taken. Then one by one growth appeared. After a few weeks I planted them in the ground. They seemed so tiny I wondered if they would survive at all. But they seem to be doing well. They will need watering if this heatwave continues.
I bought onion and shallot sets. I put them in small trays in the greenhouse for a few weeks and then planted them out. Onions took time to take off but seem ok now. The shallots are huge so I must get them out of the ground this evening.
I had my first tomatoes today – my favourite Sungold. There is nothing quite like the first of the home grown tomatoes. I am trying some new varieties this year so I will see if there is a new favourite. With the heatwave I seem to be extra busy cutting off the new suckers. I did it last night and couldn’t believe how many I had to cut today. Some people choose not to do this but I find it keeps the plants tidier. They also say that it speeds ripening.
If anything is as good as the first tomatoes it has to be the first new potato. I bought new potatoes in the supermarket twice but won’t do again as they were tasteless. I bought four trial packs of seed potatoes (five in each trial pack) from Quickcrop and planted one of each in the greenhouse and the rest outside. So far the one I’ve liked best is Casablanca. The yield was great but the flavour was fantastic. I haven’t taken any from outside yet. I will take some of the First Earlies at the weekend.
The heatwave has taken us by surprise. We always say if we could only get a decent summer it would be the best country to live in. But now that we have it we don’t cope too well either. I can only work in the garden early morning or late evening. Even with the automatic windows, louvres and door open it is very hot in the greenhouse. I think the tomatoes will come on very quickly. Thankfully we have a good watering system which was recommended by one of Landmark Greenhouse customers. Having tried two systems previously, which did not suit our greenhouse, this was a great find. I will be ever thankful to him for his recommendation.
I got the last of my tomatoes planted in the greenhouse at weekend. As I’ve already written about this in earlier blog I won’t go into it again. The only difference this year is that I added crushed eggshells to soil before planting. I had read that the calcium in the eggshells is good for them. Last year’s crop was amazing. It is great to be able to share with family and friends.
In October I thought it was the end of fresh homegrown tomatoes for another year. However a bird had flown into greenhouse mid October and broke a truss from one of the plants. I popped it into a jar of water and within a week long fresh roots were to be seen. I thought I’d try planting it up in a pot and bring in the house placing it at a sunny window. I was really surprised to see it flowering a couple of weeks later and by mid November we had tomatoes. It was not a huge crop but each week we collected a small bowl of very tasty little treats until the last were eaten this past weekend.
When I planted the truss I didn’t know what variety it was as I had six varieties in the greenhouse. I was so happy that they turned out to be Sun Gold. During this difficult winter and even worse Spring it was fantastic to have that burst of summer flavour. If you have a sunny window and and would like to experiment next autumn it might be worth a try.
We are pleased that our Landmark Brand have withstood the impact of both hurricane Ophelia and Storm Brian that followed, and indeed the recent bad weather.
We have received some great comment from our clientele.
“Landmark 1 : Ophelia 0”
“Our Landmark Greenhouse is staring out at Ophelia saying -Come get me”.
Having in some of Western Ireland locations wind speed bursts up to 150 kilometers per hour we are sure that our Greenhouses can withstand such storms.
Everything is way behind in the garden because of the very wet and cold winter. Potatoes seem to have been chiting for months. I did plant four in the greenhouse early on and they seem to be doing well and have been earthed twice.
This year I bought the seed potatoes from Quickcrop. Every year I grow the same reliable potatoes – Sharpes Express, Duke of York and Queens.At Quickcrop they have small tuber trial packs of 5. This seemed a great way to try new varieties.We choose one waxy variety and three other trial packs. Usually we have the First Earlies planted by St Patrick’s Day. That had to be put on hold with a London visit and going to Twickenham with my son for the memorable Grand Slam. The following weekend the weather was bright and dry and though the ground was very wet we put down half of the First Earlies.We decided to wait for another while to plant the rest. The ground is still very sodden mid April, but we decided to go ahead with the remaining First Earlies. Second Earlies can wait until the ground is less waterlogged whenever that comes about. Having had a fantastic crop of potatoes last year I would be surprised if they do as well this year with this slow start.
At least the seed potatoes in the greenhouse seem to be doing well. The Staging in the Greenhouse is full of all sorts of germinated seeds of annuals and vegetables ready to be planted out as soon as weather picks up. We wait and in hope. However all this seems inconsequential when we see the serious plight of the farmers and lack of fodder for the animals.
Hopefully in the next three weeks we will be up and running and experience Spring weather.
I am so glad we got the greenhouse sparkling clean last Week. I know it is advised to do this in the Autumn, but we have never got down to it. Working up the incentive to do this is the problem. It’s quite amazing how grubby it gets and it is always so satisfying to see it gleaming in the winter sun.
Our Landmark greenhouse has had a challenging winter – first with Hurricane Ophelia and Storm Brian. We have a very exposed garden. It was quite frightening to watch the hurricane driving the rain horizontally towards the greenhouse. When it hit it hit it rose up and over it and onwards again horizontally towards the boundary hedge. We lost two trees but the greenhouse stood firm. Then it had the Storm Emma with the blizzard and snow to contend with. It came through that also and is ready to go.
I had put some onion sets in compost in seed trays in the greenhouse the weekend before the onset of the snow. I did this to give them a head start for before planting in the garden. I had done the same last year and it worked very well. I thought they would freeze with the low temperature. I was worried they would had frozen as our greenhouse is not heated. I checked them today and they looked good and felt firm. So they seem to have survived it. I have still got plenty of time before planting them out so if I need to buy some more I will. I am planting F1 Centurian white onions as these did very well with me last year. Perhaps it was the soil or the weather which gave such beautiful firm and long lasting onions. Whatever it was is enough for me to try them again.
Last year I planted three First Early seed potatoes in the greenhouse to have earlier new potatoes. I planted a few a couple again two weeks ago. Will wait and see if they survive and start to grow. I’m thinking that the way the weather turned it was premature planting them. The rest are in a bright cool spot chitting.
Apart from some seedlings in the propagator there has been no gardening done the week of the snow. Where the snow has melted we can see the early spring flowers like snow drops, crocus, iris reticulata and early daffodils. Unfortunately I had not heeded advice about covering the Camellia with fleece when it was hit with freezing temperatures. Now all the blossoms are brown. It is such a pity as it would have given several weeks of pleasure. Having learned a lesson I will remember next winter if the forecast is for freezing. However the star of the spring garden for me has to be the hellebores. I have several and each one seems more beautiful than the others. I have seven and love each one of them.