Gardening in mid April: Poly tunnels | Tree care | Briars and Garden Clearance
Q. Luke in Herbert park
"I planted "money maker" tomato seeds in around the 10th of March - but nothing has appeared or germinated yet. So I was wondering is it too late for them to germinate at this rate? And can I still plant more?"
They should have come up by now for sure. But feel free to plant some more, its still not too late.
Q. Anonymous in Dublin
"Can I grow apricot in a poly tunnel?"
Yes you could. Be careful, as apricots can suffer from a range of problems. A poly tunnel works as you want to avoid rain when the are starting to come into growth and the new flowers are starting to appear.
Q. David in Lambscross
"Where can I get a golden false acacia tree? Mine died a few years ago"
Also called a "robinia" acacia tree. Its a very beautiful tree. It will not tolerate the cold wind and is somewhat fragile, so you need an airy bright warm spot in your garden which is sheltered from the wind.
Q. Martha in Rathfarnham
"I'm looking for a self clinging every green plant to plant against a bare wall. Any suggestions?"
Ivy goldheart would be a good choice. you can keep them at the height you want and can mange them well once they have established themselves. Is fast growing and looks very well in winter.
Q. Mary in Louth.
"Could you suggest a remedy for a plague of tiger slugs? the garden heaves with them at night. Help!"
Best to use the traditional method of a beer trap. Slugs love it! Take a beer can with approx one third beer left in the can and bury it level in your garden. The slugs can smell it and will end up drowning themselves in beer. Not a bad way to go!
Q. Anonymous in Dublin South.
"I have a peach tree that I have been growing for the last number of years. It got eaten / damaged by livestock from the neighbours field. It has recovered somewhat, but there are now a lot of suckers coming off the root stalk. I've put down seaweed mulch, but it still not back to what it once was. Any advice?
It looks like the suckers are now absorbing the energy of the tree and surrounding soil etc. You should remove them, below ground if possible. Then continue with your feed. Hopefully this will direct the energy back into the tree itself and your peaches will grow back to their former glory!
Q. Adam in Stillorgan
"I have sprouted a lot celery that I have in seed trays at the min. I want to grow them outside. What will I do?"
Pick a good spot in the garden for them. The idea is to slowly acclimatise them to the outside world. So take them out to where they will eventually be set in the garden and leaving them out there in their trays during the day and into late evening. Then leave them in a shed etc that has a higher temperature that the outside (but not as warm as a pollytunnel) at night. Repeat this process for a few days, slowly acclimatising them to the outside. Then check the long term weather forecast for the coming week (pick a good week with no night frost) and set outside. They should do well.
Q. Amelia in Galway
"We are returning our old walled garden back into lawn after along time of neglect. Is there anyway to avoid using chemicals in preparation for the grass seed?"
Yes - With a lot of good old fashioned hard work! If you start using chemicals, you start to destroy your soil. The key is looking after your soil. Make sure it is well dug and well raked / aerated. Top tip: you can buy earthworms and introduce them into your garden. They will naturally aerate the soil for you.
In summary, the absence of chemicals usually equates to a bit of hard work. Just like nature intended. It is always a better route to take if possible. Also, when you set your grass seed, lay in on thicker than normal. This will help to keep out weeds as well.
Q. Sinead in County Dublin
"I have lavender plants. Do I cut off the old stems or do I just let them fall off?"
If the plant is old, I would cut them. Be careful tho. Cutting stimulates growth, and if we get a cold spell it could damage the new growth.
Q. Charlie in Nutgrove
"I have a camellia plant in a big pot. It used to always flower, but over the last few years the bubs come out but it never flowers?"
Reply: Hey Charlie, thank you for getting in touch. Can you tell me what the leaves on the plant are like? Colour / condition etc?
Reply: I have looked at other camellia plants, and yes, the leaves on mine are a different colour. Mine have a light green colour.
That's the indication of your problem right there. It sounds like its not getting the nutrients it needs. As new growth develops its very important to give it an annual iron tonic. Go to your garden centre and pick up a sachet of sequestered iron. It just needs this tonic once you see new buds developing. You don't need to do it after that. Thereafter, use a good tomato feed.
Q. James in anonymous
"I have a lot of briar's growing over into my garden from my neighbours. What can I do?"
Its good to keep in mind that briar's do serve a very good purpose in nature. The blackberries act as a food source for birds, and can also be made into a delicious jam! So they are not all bad! If you could leave a few 'well managed' briar's in the garden, that would e ideal.
Anyway - back to your question!
Briar's are difficult to get rid of. They "sucker", as in they grow along the ground. The absolute best way is to get a very good pair of thick gloves and pull them out from the ground, roots and all. You could use a trimmer to cut them down to about a foot high before you start this process, as this may make them more manageable. Once out, you have to destroy them.
Alternatively, you could use a systemic weed killer in GEL form (NOT spray). You basically paint in on to the tip of the briar (if it was cut and exposed, this would also speed up the process), and the gel is then drawn back to the root. See can you talk to your neighbour regarding these options, and hopefully ye will be able to reach some compromise.