Live Q&A with Dee Sewell of Greenside Up
Held Tuesday April 12th, 2011
Caroline asks: great idea. My kids would love to have a hobby of a little veg garden. Where does one start? I have no idea!
Greenside Up – Replies – Hi Caroline…. that’s great news that you have enthusiastic kids that are interested in veg. Start small, don’t try and plant too much at once and grow what the children like to eat.
Leon Says – Us too, we were thinking about doing something over the easter
Caroline says – sounds about right only to plant what they will eat. So how do we set up?
Greenside Up – Replies – It depends upon how much space you have. You can dig up your soil or plant in raised beds. I’ve written a blog post about starting off on www.Greenside Up – upveg.blogspot.com for more information.
Caroline says – thank u so much for ur help:)
Karen asks – I have a raised bed from last year, how should I best prepare it for planting a few bits and pieces again this year
Greenside Up – Replies – How raised is it and what were you growing in it last year? Different plants require different planting conditions, eg potatoes and bean crops like lots of organic matter (manure or compost), carrots don’t at all or they tend to grow in odd shapes.
Karen says About 6 inches, only a beginner, we had scallions, rocket, cabbage and some lettuce varieties.
Greenside Up – Replies – As I mentioned above Karen, take a look at the information on my website about crop rotation and keeping vegetables in families. If you have any more questions I’d be more than happy to answer them. Drop me an email or put a question on my FB page.
Paula says – I’m so excited to discover that the rocket I planted in our raised beds last year has come back to life so lunchbox sandwiches are really tasty again!! I’m hoping the strawberries are a bit more impressive – 3 fruits last year was more than disappointing. Wondering if a forget me not that has blossomed in the middle of the strawberry patch should be removed as a weed or leave it as a welcome bit of colour?
Greenside Up – Replies – You could try moving it to another part of the garden Paula then it wont be competing with your strawberries for light or nutrients. Suggest giving them a feed – compost or manure if you can and protecting the flowers (if you have any) if we get a frost.
Martina asks – Do you think it is safe frost wise to plant out cabbage plants etc. ?
Greenside Up – Replies – I would hold off for a few more days… @irishweatheronline have forecast very low temperatures over the next week or so. Make sure you harden the seedlings off before you plant them out too.
Leon says – How do you harden the seedlings?
Greenside Up – Replies – By bringing them in and out of doors each day for a few hours. If you have a cold frame you can place them in there to harden off too.
Etain asks “Can I plant herbs outside now?”
Greenside Up – Replies – Again I would hold off until the risk of frost has past. Lots of herbs prefer mediteranean type conditions, sandier soils etc too.
Nicole says – Yes I have a lil herb garden but usually start them inside ..
Etain says – what about the herbs that come from pots in the supermarket, should I hold off on them too?
Greenside Up – Replies – Yes, and also (not strictly my field here but I’ll answer it anyway) bedding plants that will be in the supermarkets this week… most will be ‘burnt’ if there’s a cold snap next week.
Etain says – oh good to know, I was tempted to buy some, so will hold off a few weeks
Greenside Up – Replies – You could buy them now but you would have to keep them in a greenhouse, polytunnel or consevatory until they’re safe to go out.
Maty Kate asks – Is it better to start off lettuce in seed trays at this time of year?
Greenside Up – Replies – You could do both… start some off in modules or seed trays and plant some out directly.
Leon asks – We have a very small garden, how much would you need to get started & where would be the best place? ie sunny/sheltered..
Greenside Up – Replies – Vegetables prefer sun but can grow in semi-shade. You can grow in windowboxes, hanging baskets or small beds.
Lorna asks – I have planted some cabbage seeds in seed trays, just the other day and they are coming up already! At what stage can I plant them out? thanks, Lorna
Greenside Up – replies – I’m assuming they’re summer cabbage Lorna, ready to harvest from July onwards…. again you can plant them out once they’ve hardened off (see below on hardening off) usually around May.
Lorna says – Cheers for that, I assume so too! will check the packet!! 😉 thanks again
Nicola asks – Just started growing my own this year. Have planted berry plants which I don’t expect to do anything this year. Also have strawberries, tomatoes, onions and garlic. Any tips on feeding – what to give and how often. Also are they prone to attracting insects and is there anything I can do to prevent this without using chemicals?
Greenside Up – Replies – Hi Nicola, that’s loads of questions! Strawberries and tomatoes as fruiting plants like a high potasium feed but I generally use a liquid seaweed fertiliser as it’s full of all the nutrients plants need, plus trace elements. There’s a .pdf …download on my website on companion planting http://www.aztecsailing.co
Nicola says – Thank you just on your website how will have a look
Lorna asks – I planted some pumpkin seeds for the first time, giving them lots of space! (being optimistic) is there anything in particular I should do for them and how long should it take before the seedling starts to come up? (just wondering now if I planted them out too early re frost)
Greenside Up – Replies – Pumpkins are in the squash family and are frost tender. I wouldn’t normally start seedlings until now, hoping to plant out in late May to June. They can grow quite quickly once they get going so you may have to keep potting them up into bigger containers until their safe to go outside. Ger Heary in the Arboretum is the massive pumpkin expert incidently … he grows monsters!
Lorna says – oooh, I planted them straight into the raised bed!! okay, maybe I’d better get another packet of seeds for pots!
Lorraine says – If you do try growing pumpkins again you can very gently with a nail file file the edges of the seeds. This will help them germinate quicker. They also love manure as they are very hungry plants. I put mine on a mound of manure every year w…ith great success.. Jack O Lanterns seem to be the best type of pumpkins for Ireland’s conditions. I tried a load of different varieties last year and they were the ones that did the best.
Greenside Up – Replies – Thanks Lorraine. I’ve never successfully grown pumpkins in our garden or squashes outside – I think we’re too high up. Heated propagators will germinate pumpin seeds quicker to Lorna, see my blog for a review on one.
Garrendenny asks – My raspberry canes are starting to spread – rapidly! Is this okay? Should they be pruned? (not sure if I’ll get fruit this year as the goats nibbled them!) but just wondering really re them spreading
Lorraine says – I think the goats might have saved you the job of pruning! I usually cut the canes down to the base then new shoots will come. They will spread everywhere. So if you do want to control if you can either pull out the runners, they make great gifts or dig down and put rocks down so they can’t spread.
Greenside Up – Replies – Thanks Lorraine, you saved me a question!
Mary asks – Hi Dee. What exactly is companion planting and can you give some examples?Greenside Up – Replies – Hi Mary. Companion plants are used to encourage the growth of plants, to confuse or repel pests and to act as traps or sacrificial plants. They may also be used to attract predators and pollinators. They’re not all scientifically proven but… for instance nasturtiums attract cabbage white butterflies, with the idea that they leave your cabbages alone. Calendula (Pot marigold) encourages hoverfly whose larvea feed on aphids (greenfly).
Mary says – Thank you for such an easy to understand answer. I am looking to do some gardening with my grandchildren and don’t want to use chemicals.
Deb asks “We have a really boggy garden, are raised beds the way to go? or is there anything that will prepare the soil for planting?”
Greenside Up – Replies – I would definately go for raised beds in that situation as the easiest option, especially if you’re new to veg. The alternative would be installing drainage and may not guarantee results.
Bernadette asks – How do I revive my lavender bush? Any tips?
Greenside Up – Replies – I’m not an expert on lavender Bernadette but my experience is that they never survive the cold winters (certinaly in my garden).
Bernadette says – Ah well, I’ve cut it right back tonight and fed it so we will see what happens:) thanks anyway!
Joanne asks – Are there any plants that deter CATS… we are surrounded by them and there constantly diggin up and messing in my front garden…????
Greenside Up – Replies – Hmmm not sure about that one Joanne. Rue, Lavender & Geranium might work. Also covering the area with prickly twigs (eg Hawthorn) might deter them. I’ve heard tiger poo works well too!
Annette asks – Is it really that important to rotate the crops every year and what veg is best to plant first in new soil?
Greenside Up – Replies – Yes Annette, particularly if you’re growing organically. The rotation I suggests starts with potatoe or squash crops (if you’re not growing potatoes), followed by peas & beans (legumes), then cabbage type plants (brassicas) then others – roots, others etc. Again there’s a .pdf on my website on vegetable families and crop rotation http://www.aztecsailing.co.uk/baurnafea/Greensideup/information.html
Mykidstime says : Hi Folks, we’re going to finish up now and say thanks to Dee from Greenside Up for joining us this evening, hope you enjoyed it! For any questions that we didn’t get to, we will make sure Dee sees them!
Greenside Up – Replies – Thanks everyone. Enjoy the rest of your evening.