The South Circular Garden is a local community food gardening project on the corner of South Circular Road and Place avenue in Dublin, Ireland. We have a derelict site on loan from ST Salvage Company that we have converted into a community food garden This is a continuation of the initial successful Dolphins Barn Community squatted food garden that was on the canal from 2005 -2007 contact Willie Brennan: 087 958 3797
Please read what to do in the garden in this coming April.
Vegetable & Fruit April Growing Guide
By April spring should be well and truly underway,
the soil warming up nicely and everything growing away. Don't be complacent
though, it's been known for a cold snap with snow to strike even in the sunny
south of England. Keep an eye on the weather forecasts and a hand on the
horticultural fleece and insulation materials.
Sowing & Planting in April on the Vegetable Plot
If March has been difficult and you've not managed to get
much done, you're going to have a busy April. With onions you're really pushing
it so if they're not planted make it one of the first jobs of the month
The weeds won't be slow and it's time to sharpen your hoe. A
sharp hoe is the best friend a gardener can have. Just slide it back and forth
slightly below the surface of the soil and you'll stop the weed seedlings in
their tracks. There's an old saying "Hoe when you can't see a weed and
you'll never see a weed" which is very true. Hoeing keeps the top soil
broken up so in times of drought water cannot get to the surface by capillary
action and evaporate. When it does rain a hoed surface will prevent the
precious water running off and ensure it goes down to where it's wanted.
Covering your carrots with a fleece and ensuring the
edges are buried will stop the carrot root fly from gaining entry to lay eggs
by your carrots. The eggs hatch in larvae that burrow into the carrot root,
killing the plant or at least ruining the crop.
& Shallot Sets, Globe and Jerusalem Artichokes, Asparagus.
a variable feast that usually falls in early April is the traditional potato
planting time. If you have a comfrey bed and it has sprung back, the first cut
laid in the trench under the potatoes will provide nutrition to get them off to
a good start.
subject of comfrey, if you make a comfrey tea it will help you to a great crop
to use it on your potatoes. Many novice growers wonder why they have small
crops of potatoes and most often this is just down to lack of food for this
Under Cover in Greenhouse, Coldframe and Polytunnel
tip in a windowsill is to stick some silver cooking foil onto cardboard and
place on the inside to reflect light back onto the seedlings. This will help
prevent the seedlings being drawn.
Sow Outdoors under Cloche
beans, Lettuce, Sweetcorn
to pre-chit my sweetcorn, I lay the seeds on a layer of damp kitchen paper and
then place a layer of paper over in an airtight box. An old ice-cream carton or
a Tupperware type box is ideal. Check carefully each day and as soon as the
small white sprout appears, plant the seed about half to an inch deep in a
3" pot of general purpose compost in the greenhouse.
shoots appear about an inch high, plant out under cloche being careful not to
disturb the root (sweetcorn hates root disturbance) under a cloche. Sweetcorn
needs a lot of nitrogen and a teaspoon of dried blood per plant or water Many
of the crops you can sow directly will also benefit from cloching, especially
as you move northwards or started off in modules in a cool greenhouse or
coldframe and then planted out later.
Strawberries can be planted out now, it's best to remove
flowers in the first year as you conserve strength for growth and gain larger
crops in subsequent years. An easy way to gain strawberry plants is to plant
the runners into pots and when rooted cut the runner. The plants don't last
forever so you need to rotate them every three to five years.
pollinate peaches and nectarines. Tickle the flowers with a small paint brush
to spread the pollen. Cover if a cold spell threatens.
layer of compost around the base of fruit trees will ensure they have the
nutrition to provide another good crop for you.
mentioned the carrot root fly but the gardener's worst enemy is awakening. The
evil slugs and snails are coming out to eat entire rows of succulent young
seedlings overnight so take action now.
the 'Hungry Gap' between the last of the winter crops and start of the early
crops but there are still a few things available, late sprouting and chards for
example plus you may have some early salad crops from the greenhouse border.Do
re-check your stored crops. On a fine day, empty out the potato sacks and check
for any rotten potatoes. If you've strung onions, watch out for the odd rotten
one and remove it before it spreads.
Please have a read of my jobs to do and getting ready for the growing season.
& Fruit March Growing Guide
March is the month when things really start to move in
the growing season. In fact the start of the year used to be, 25th March until
1752 in Ireland when we adopted the Gregorian calendar and started our year on
the 1st January. From a horticultural viewpoint, it would have made sense to
have stuck with the old system, starting the year on the spring equinox, in
link with the seasons
Comfrey Blocking 14 the
most useful herb you can grow on your plot.
& Planting in March on the Vegetable Plot
If the weather is cold but
otherwise reasonable, you can steal some time and start early by cloching and
fleecing, although cloches have been around for many years, nowadays we can get
cheap polythene tunnel cloches and even cheaper fleece.Place
the cloche or fleece a week or two before planting and the soil will have
warmed up nicely as well as being dry and easy to work. Water well into the
drill prior to sowing and replacing the cloche. Do remember to water weekly or
more frequently in sunny weather under cloches.
To hold down fleece without tearing, save plastic 2
litre milk containers and fill with sand or water although water tends to leak.
The smooth surface will weigh down the fleece but not damage it. It's
surprising how just a layer of fleece can raise the temperature of the
underlying soil.Plant out your onion
and shallot sets. If growing onions from seed started earlier in the year under
cover these can also go out now. You can also direct sow onions, thinning to
the eventual spacing. Cloching will help them establish and also stop pigeons
from pulling them up.
March is the right time to establish an asparagus
bed if you are starting from crowns. Do make sure you get it in the right
position as it will be there permanently.
Mid-March should let you start planting out those
potatoes you've had chitting. If you want some really early potatoes, start
some in a black polythene sack in the greenhouse or tunnel. Punch drainage
holes in the sack and use a multi-purpose compost.
Staying with root crops, you can plant Jerusalem
artichoke tubers now. Be aware that getting them all up at harvest time is very
difficult and any tubers left in the ground will grow so effectively a
Things to Sow
Early Peas (but they
may do best started in a gutter in the greenhouse then slipped into a trench or
in seed trays)
Brussels sprouts –
early varieties like Peer Gynt will be ready in September
Under Cover in Greenhouse, Coldframe and
Sow in Heat
Windowsill or a propagator in the greenhouse will
come into use now to start off your tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and cucumbers.
Many of the crops you can sow directly will also
benefit from cloching, especially as you move northwards or started off in
modules in a cool greenhouse or coldframe and then planted out later.
Planting & Pruning
There is still time to finish planting bare rooted
fruit trees and bushes, especially raspberries and other cane fruits.
Early this month you can still prune apple and pear
trees while they are still dormant. There is also time to prune gooseberries
and currants. With currants shorten the side shoots to just one bud and remove
old stems from the centre of the bushes.
They'll benefit from some compost spread
around the base as well or some general purpose fertiliser. Trees will
appreciate some wood ash spreading under them.
Any leeks left standing should come up now – you can
freeze them for use in soups and stews or make concentrated leek & potato
soup to freeze and thin out when used.
Parsnips too should come up in early March before
they try and re-grow. They'll store for a month or so in damp sand but the
plant knows it is growing time again. If you turn them into a mash, perhaps
with carrots, they'll freeze well taking up little room
You may have spinach beet and chards available, the
last of the late Brussels sprouts, winter cauliflowers, kale, swedes, salsify
Don't forget to keep checking the purple sprouting!
General Jobs on the Plot
Have a good tidy up and finish those odd
construction jobs because you are going to be busier still later in the year!www.dublincommunitygrowers.ie
Please see information on taken hardwood cuttings,
Hardwood and Propagating cuttings for this time of
the year, making more plants from some plants you have already or from taking
cuttings from other sources (plants that you fancy from your neighbourhood,
parks, gardens etc.) There are plenty of shrubs at this time of the year to
take cuttings they should be straight and no thicker than a pencil about 30cm
long most are deciduous. Among the easiest are Willows (Salix alba) Dogwood
(Cornus alba) and their different colours stems. The following shrubs are
likely candidates Buddleia, Callicarpa, Deutzia, Euonymus,Forsyithia,Philadelphus,Ribes,Viburnum,Weigela.
Roses can also be grown from cuttings but be mindful that modern roses are
grown from the method called Grafting, which means that the cutting is grafted
onto a root stock. So if you take a cutting from a rose and plant it up you
will not get what you thought when you took the cutting in the first place.
can take cuttings from like, Jasmine, Honeysuckle, Grape Vine, Parthenocissus can be propagated from hardwood
cuttings as can Gooseberries and all the currents. So there is plenty to make
more offspring of the chosen plants you want. Next prepare a place to do you
cuttings and if you are out and about taken cuttings and with the consent if
you are in some ones garden, place the
cutting in a plastic bag so as not to let the cutting dry out and keep it safe.
Be sure your cutting implement is sharp and if you have a secateurs this is the
ideal tool to use. Next you will need a small dedicated bed to put your
cuttings into, the soil must be light and well drained if your soil is heavy
and claggy add some horticulture grit or sand. Choose straight strong growth
with no blemishes as propagating material. Cut the stem you have chosen with
clean sharp secateurs you will be using material no thicker than a pencil and
about 30cm long, but prune the shoot back to the base or other logical point.
Make individual cuttings by snipping straight across directly below a bud, then
moving up the stem about 35cm you are using as a cutting cut a diagonal cut on
top of a bud slopping away from the bud. This indicates which is top and which
is bottom of cutting, the sloping angle is the top portion and this also allows
water to drain away from the bud.
Insert the cutting/cuttings into the space you have already prepared for
them bury them about ¾ deep into prepared space. Make sure they are firmly in
by gently pressing down on the soil around the cutting, water and leave for
about a year or so, but always checking on them to make sure they do not dry
out or are damaged in some way. Hopefully in about 9/12 months new green leaves
start to show, in the meantime if they start to show green leaves they will not
have rooted enough so avoid pulling them or digging up to see. The exception to
this rule is the Willow which will root very easily as they are full of rooting
Hope you all had a good break, now time to start thinking about the garden and doing some odd jobs to be done. The seasons are starting to make their way back, so no time like the present to get out and about. See attach to get an idea on the jobs to be carried out this month coming Feb.
The South Circular Road Community Food Garden Project started in April 2007. We have a derelict site on loan from ST Salvage Company that we have converted into a community food garden. This is a continuation of the initial successful Dolphins Barn Community squatted food garden that was on the canal from 2005 -2007.