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green fingers Paraic Horkan shares tips to encourage your little seedlings to embrace the great outdoors

"My motto is: 'The child that grows a strawberry, eats a strawberry'," says horticulturalist Paraic

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IN BLOOM: Gardening expert Paraic Horkan

IN BLOOM: Gardening expert Paraic Horkan

Bord Na Mona Growise

Bord Na Mona Growise

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IN BLOOM: Gardening expert Paraic Horkan

Hoping to cultivate your little one's green fingers this summer? As part of Bord na Móna Growise's Meet Me in the Garden campaign, Paraic Horkan has barrowloads of tips to encourage your little seedlings to embrace the great outdoors.

"My motto is: 'The child that grows a strawberry, eats a strawberry'," says horticulturalist Paraic.

"Encouraging children to get involved in the process of growing some of their five a day encourages them to taste and enjoy summer fruits, edible flowers and vegetables.

"Simply place your planted container in a bright sheltered location (a balcony or sunny patio is ideal), water weekly and feed with an organic liquid fertiliser every fortnight.

"Get the kids growing and they are more likely to taste and eat the edibles they create."

Here are some more of his blooming great tips.

How to grow your edibles

For larger families, one of the best ways to grow a wider variety of edible plants including strawberries, herbs and fruiting plants is to get yourself a growing table.

Another option is to use a raised garden bed such as the Vegepod; this enables you to grow a wide range of edible plants 12 months of the year in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way.

Vegepods recycle rainwater and nutrition to your developing plants and the enviromesh canopy increases plant growth by up to 50pc and protects against garden pests in an organic way.

It can also simply be placed on your balcony or patio in a sunny location and allows you to garden all year round without the need for digging or bending.

Herbs

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Popular kitchen herbs like parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, basil, and chives are so easy to grow and are also happy on a sunny patio or windowsill.

Herbs are very tactile and scented, so kids love to touch, taste and smell the beautiful foliage.

With kitchen herbs, the more you cut the foliage the happier the herbs are.

What you need

⬤ Selection of your favourite herbs - choose varieties you use regularly in cooking.

⬤ Pots, window boxes and deep trays.

⬤ A good quality sustainable compost such as Bord na Móna Growise Go Greener Multipurpose Compost.

⬤ Perlite compost additive.

⬤ A sharp scissors for trimming your herbs weekly.

Herbs like a gritty compost so start by mixing the compost and perlite together. Fill up your pots or window boxes with the mix and water the compost.

Plant your herbs and place the planted containers on a bright sunny windowsill or outdoors in a south facing windowsill.

Cut your homegrown herbs weekly, as just like cutting hair this stimulates new tender growth full of fresh herb flavours. Freshly cut herbs can be stored in ziplock bags for 10 days in the fridge.

Edible Flowers

Many flowers are edible and can be used to add colour and dress salads, drinks or to simply pick and eat. Edible flowers include:

⬤ Anise Hyssop - also sometimes known as licorice mint. Both the young leaves and the striking purple flowers have a mild licorice flavour.

⬤ Basil flowers - basil produces beautiful flowers. They can be white to lavender, but they look stunning when sprinkled over pasta dishes or used in green salads.

⬤ Begonia - the buds and flowers of begonia flowers offer a fleshly texture to a wide range of dishes.

⬤ Borage - gentian blue flowers that can be added to summer drinks and ice cubes.

⬤ Chives - purple blooms to add to salads or sandwiches to add spice and colour.

⬤ Nasturtiums - these are easy to grow and the leaves, flower buds and open flowers can be added to bowls of salad leaves. The open blooms of nasturtiums can also be stuffed with fillings to add a lovely fleshly texture when eaten. They can also be added to drinks for colour.

⬤ Violas - lovely to freeze in ice cubes to add colour and interest to your drinks.

Bord na Móna Growise

Bord na Móna Growise has launched Meet Me in the Garden, a how-to video series to help budding gardeners realise their garden's potential. Hosted by Aoibhin Garrihy and gardening expert Paraic Horkan, the four-part video series will arm the nation with hints, tips and advice. As part of Bord na Móna's commitment to a sustainable future, Bord na Móna Growise has also launched the all-new GoGreener Multipurpose Compost in time for the 2021 key gardening season. GoGreener Multipurpose compost is the perfect blend of composted green waste (waste which would otherwise go to landfill) and peat.

The Meet Me in the Garden video series is now available at bordnamonahorticulture.ie

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