Ruby Harte (a.k.a Mags Riordan) has been a professional florist for over 12 years and has completed a course in horticulture and worked in garden centres, wholesale nurseries, and private gardens. Ruby runs a family owned nursery, Bumble Bee Farm in Castledonovan, Drimoleague and is deeply concerned about the protection and cultivation of nature and its habitats.
The signs of spring are everywhere — sparrows mating, frogs’ spawn, robins pairing up and the early chorus gathering momentum. I do welcome the stretch in the mornings and evenings but it’s crept up all of a sudden. Although we have made some inroads in to implementing the much-needed changes here on the farm, we need to up the ante and really crack on because it’s March…how did that happen so fast!
Plants and bulbs are almost ready but we still need to replace plastic on two of our tunnels damaged in the last series of storms. I’m not panicking just yet but give me another two weeks and I’ll be tearing my hair out if they are not covered, (praying for another bout of warm weather with no wind). Poor Steve is exhausted digging trenches; when we put them up first we had plenty of room and a machine do it for us — no such luck now — there’s barely room for the wheelbarrow in some places.
It’s amazing what a few days of sunshine can do — so many things have started sprouting, seedlings are getting strong but the over-wintered plugs have really put on growth, especially the poppies. While they aren’t longlasting cut flowers, they are fantastic for bridal bouquets and arrangements and I really love the airy papery feel they give.
As I’m writing this, we are in a waning moon phase, which is a really good time for bulb work. I’ve made the most of it and am determined not to make the same mistake as last year. Dahlias are divided and potted up ensuring an early and abundant valuable crop. I know some of you think they are too much work having to dig them up and overwinter the tubers but there’s very little to rival their long flowering period and diversity in flower colour and form, for me they are simply stunning and I can’t get enough of them. I’ll have to do a feature on them later in the season. Lily bulbs have been moved and divided in an attempt to keep one step ahead of the vile lily beetle; at least she is easy to see and very slow moving.
Next week we will be in the third quarter and weeding will be done with a vengeance. I don’t like to waste any of this wonderful nutrition, so we turn compost bags inside out, fill them with the weeds and cover them so they will rot down beautifully providing a vital soil conditioner with valuable balanced natural trace elements. We don’t feed plants artificially; we prefer to feed the soil, which in turn feeds our flowers. Because it’s done in an organic way, our soil is living and healthy. Sadly artificial fertilisers only feed the crop and the trade off is dead soil. We then use grass clippings as a mulch, which rots down over the season and also helps our heavy clay acidic soil. Fresh clippings are brilliant on the surface, as they will take nitrogen from the air to rot down but should not be added to a planting hole fresh, as this takes the nitrogen from the soil and causes a deficiency for that growing season.
Following on from our January article, we have compiled a list of suitable plants, shrubs and perennials, which will help absorb moisture — it will be available on our website blog.
Our wedding season starts this weekend and also sees our return to Organico in Bantry and Swanton’s in Mahon Point Farmers Market just in time for Mother’s Day. We will have a wonderful selection of scented narcissus and hyacinth mixes.
Easter will see our return to Schull Country Market with our bouquets and a lovely selection of herbs and flowering perennial plants. We will have a limited amount of our favourite plants available for sale at Schull market and during the summer only here on the farm. We will have our annual open day but with all the changes, it will probably be a bit later this year, possibly in July.
We hope you all get out to enjoy the fine weather whenever it appears and get some much-needed sunshine Vitamin D.
Wishing all you mums a Happy Mother’s Day on March 6 and all of you who celebrate Easter, enjoy! Just for good measure, with St Patrick’s Day in the middle of March it is going to be a busy month. Have fun.