Waterford News and Star — Green Fingers: Take five or an apple a day


Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre


THEY say a week is a long time in politics but it can also be applied to some aspects of gardening and especially in spring. A few weeks ago there were very few small flowering bulbs above ground and no frogs had appeared in our pond but within a few days there were snowdrops, cyclamen coum and dwarf iris reticulata in flower and there were over 30 frogs all having fun in the pond.


Five a day

What is it about the “Five a Day” slogan where we are encouraged to eat a portion of five vegetables or fruit as part of a healthy diet? I guess it is a follow on from the old proverb of “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, which was one way of encouraging people to eat healthy food. Either way we have got the message that we should increase our consumption of plant foods, preferably in variety and maybe more than the symbolic five.


Off hand

Now in our grandparents time or up to the 1960’s it would have been more difficult to achieve that healthy goal as fresh fruit and vegetables were seasonal and, in addition, limited in choice. Yet, people were fairly healthy although that could be attributed to less processed and convenience foods being available. Nowadays, it is quite tricky to avoid what goes into our foods to such an extent that I prefer to cook and eat at home but when eating out I choose those foods that are quite plain.


On hand

The answer is to grow as much as you can yourself but space or time or both might not be available to indulge in this type of gardening. There is probably scope for most people to grow some of their seasonal requirements and consciously buy the shortfall so that the “Five a Day” is maintained or even exceeded.  While “organic” is better than the unknown it is not foolproof and not what we would consider 100% organic but is a % of that and can still be labelled organic.


Hands on 

There might be scope to grow a variety of fruit and vegetables in most gardens where they can be planted within the general garden without the need for a separate section. Fruit trees can be planted instead of ornamental varieties such as pears, apples…