Ask the Expert

What is the ph of Shamrock Irish Moss Peat for all soil types?

Posted 25/05/2011 by Gary, Waterford Town

Shamrock Irish Moss Peat will always have a consistant PH range of 3.8-4.4 with no additives. This is unlike composts which will have a higher range due to lime and nutrients added. Peat on its own is a fantastic soil improver to open up heavy clay soils or to lift light sandy soils but do not use it on its own for container planting.

A good idea is to spread a layer of Peat and a sprinkling of Growise Organic Chicken Manure Pellets and work both well into the soil for a rich open vegetable or flower patch.

I have an area of cottage garden planted in my garden which is covered in tiny weeds that are very hard to control. I am thinking of putting down a layer of bark to stop the weed growth however as the garden is mature I cannot put down a membrane / plastic layer first. Will the bark alone on top of my soil stop the weeds?

Posted 12/05/2011 by Deirdre, Ennis Co.Clare

A cottage garden with all its beautiful mixed plants can be indeed difficult to maintain. It sounds like a lot of weeds have gone to seed hence all the tiny weeds. You should hoe constantly on dry bright days and most will dry up and disappear.

It will be impossible to put down a membrane fabric ( do not use plastic the soil cannot breath) so hoe as much as possible and then indeed put down a good layer of Shamrock mini chip bark and around small young plants you could use Growise Superfine bark for beds and borders which is a lovely product.

I'd be grateful if you can help me with my tree, it is a EUCALYPTUS SILVER DROP. It is 6 years old and all the leaves are gone brown on it. P.S it about 40 feet high,

Posted 05/05/2011 by Jacinta Co.Offaly

I'm afraid the severe weather last Winter has caused this. The Eucalyptus species can tolerate temperatures down to -14C but not much beyond that and especially on successive nights. They are plants from the southern hemisphere of New Zealand and Australia. If there is no sign of fresh growth by now cut it back hard and you will be surprised at how quickly it may come back.

What hedges can you take slips of now?

Posted 26/04/2011 by John, Co.Tipperary

Hedging in Ireland has been hit hard over the last two winters. Types of hedging like Olearia, Privit and Escallonia are practically wiped out in certain areas. Propagation from cuttings is best done in Autumn from fresh growth in prepared beds with sand and peat added and then transplanted in the spring once rooted. Another good time is in summer but you will need to cover with clear polythene in a shady spot until rooted. I would wait a couple of months to get good fresh material and then you can try Grisilinia, Laurel, Fuchsia Riccartonii, or for a dwarf hedge or topiary Buxus sempervirens. All of these root easily!but be sure to add sand and peat to stick your cuttings.

I have four clematis plants in the garden, which I'm very surprised seem to have survived the Winter's snows. There are lots of dead branches from last year as well as the new shoots. Should I prune these back?  

What sort of food should I give it?

Posted 26/04/2011 by Aisling, Kilcullen, Co.Kildare

Your clematis are quite hardy and vigourous growing. All the large flowering hybrid types should be cut back now and indeed cut out all the dead wood back to the new shoots. This years flowers will be on this new growth. Clematis also like to be planted deep (this protects them from "clematis wilt" and intense cold) so they will benifet from a top dressing of 3-4 inches of Growise Farmyard Manure or compost and you can feed now also with a sprinkle of Growise organic chicken manure pellets or any good balanced feed.

Unless your clematis is a semi-evergreen type or clematis montana these are treated differently and only pruned as needed after flowering.

What nutrients are contained in Growise Farmyard manure?

Posted 23/03/2011 by Sean, Co.Tipperary

Growise Farmyard Manure is a soil conditioner rich in organic matter. It is designed to be used when planting a wide range of food crops. It is rich in natural essential nutrients but will require additional feeding to support plants for a full season. Think of it as an "anchor" for your plants to improve poor soils.

I want to know if I can use Growise Farmyard Manure solely as a fertliser for my early potatoes

Posted 23/03/2011 by Sean, Thurles

Potatoes are hungry plants so use plenty of our Growise Farmyard Manure as a soil conditioner. This will open up your soil with plenty of rich organic matter. You will also need to add in a potato fertiliser - available in your Garden Centre - at the recommended rate of use. This will ensure your soil has the adequate support and nutrients needed for your early potatoes.

Can I use Brown gold to top dress any plant?

Posted 23/03/2011 by Terri, Kildare Town

Yes, you can. Brown Gold is an Ericaceous compost for acid-loving plants, but is also ideal for top dressing in Spring and Autumn. Use it on all plants for top dressing, but do not use it for container growing plants which need a higher pH lime content. Brown Gold is also an excellent soil conditioner at any time of the year.

Is there any way (preferably organic) of stopping or slowing the rate at which Blackfly take over broadbean plants?

Posted 09/03/2011 by Niamh

A good organic tip for this problem is to pinch out the young shoots after the first pods are formed. The Blackfly target the young shoots mainly on broad beans so this will reduce the damage and promote earlier crops.

An old wives' tale is to plant scented plants like french marigold as companion plants and to wash with soapy water.

I notice in many supermarkets there are products on the shelves to grow your own tomatoes from hanging devices. Are these suitable for my apartment balcony, which only gets direct sunlight for the first early hours of the day and is drenched in shade from about 10am onwards?

Posted 01/03/2011 by

Now, you have a difficult situation here: trying to grow tomatoes in a hanging basket with sun only in the morning. We think you might be able to grow in these conditions but you’ll need a good summer to help. First, you'll need a hanging basket with a good volume of compost - 10 litres or more - to avoid drying out, especially when the plants are large. Use of Growise Multipurpose or Tub and Basket will help, since it has a natural moisture retaining agent. We'd recommend using the tomato varieties Tumbler or Balcony Red. Plant them firmly into the hanging basket, then water regularly and start off feeding with a standard tomato fertiliser when the tomatoes begin to form. Good luck: pray for a warm summer!

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