Thursday, 13 October 2011

Death brings new life

At this time of year, when we look around the garden, we see the last of our flowers struggling to keep in bloom.
We filled 2 hanging baskets this year with Antirrhinum (Snapdragons) and Violas. And they were gorgeous when in full bloom.
But the past week they have started to look a bit dreary, so I took them down to see if I could tidy them up a bit to get the most out of them before they die off completely.
But look what I found....

One of the most curious seed pods I have ever come across belonging to the Violas...

So whats a gardener to do but collect some! and maybe next year we wont have to buy any Violas!

On the Snapdragon front ...
Its a bit like beauty n the beast! but I had to collect some of their seeds too...

Now I just have to get pots, compost and time to sow some seed.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Autumns arrived!

Finally we have Blackberries in this neck of the woods, we've been waiting for these flowers to come to something, so we can make some jam...

Bet the birds are happy, the hedgerows are laden down with berries..

And in our front garden we have rose hips, might be tempted to make some syrup with them this year, in case we have any head colds this winter.

And in our polytunnel the first courgette has grown a bit...

So I picked it a few days later, along with some of our Tomatos....

Had a bit of company in the polytunnel, havent seen many this year...

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Pepper pots vs growbags

Well it seems like a life time since I first sowed our first ever Pepper seeds, and ages since I planted them out in growbags in the polytunnel.

I have watched them settle in and flower, then as time went on the fruit started to set.

With the help of the couple of frogs visiting the tunnel I have managed to keep the slugs at bay, the only pests attempting to get at the plants.

But the plants in the growbags never grew well, unlike the ones I potted up in the 2 litre pots!

I dont think we will grow Peppers next year, ya win some, ya lose some.

I was thinking the same for our Courgette plants, I planted 4 of them out, (I thought 4 Courgette plants would be enough to feed us) and they were attacked by slugs and all 4 died.

But I had another 3 plants on stand-by in pots,(am brutal for throwing stuff out) and when I got space in the polytunnel I decided to stick them in there, less slugs.....

But up until today all the flowers have been male, and no sign of a female flower or baby courgette!
So I'm celebrating the first baby courgette of the year for us! Just hope the bloody slugs keep away from it now!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Monty said to do it, so I did!

I dont know about everyone else but I find it sooo hard to throw away plants, or to thin out veg, or strip the leaves off beautiful leafy Tomato plants!
I just hate killing off anything, even though I do know it is a necessary evil.
I watched Gardeners World on Fri and Monty said it was time to strip the leaves off all the Tomato plants, letting the plant redirect all its energy into the fruit.

And after:

With the leaves cut away (and thrown on the compost heap) I have a great view of all our juicy ripening Tomatos! (& our Marigolds)

Time to pick a few for supper; I put them in my T-shirt, reminding me of when I was a child and being sent out for fresh eggs and the only thing we had to carry them back into the house with was our T-shirts.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Storing our fruit..yum yum

Well at the beginning of the year we never thought we would have so much fruit, and not have anything to do with the growing of it!

In spring we didnt even know we had a Plum tree, and only realised we had Damson trees growing in our ditch when the fruit started appearing, much to our delight!!

So the past couple of weeks have been spent making Plum jam, trying out Plum vodka and then this week I harvested the Damsons.....with help

The trees are laden down

But unfortunately most of the fruit are too high up for us to reach, even with the ladder, so we'll have to be content with 2 kg of 'em

But we dont mind really, I managed to get 11 pots of jam from them...yummy

As for the never ending fruit from the Plum tree I harvested the last of the fruit the other day, before the wind or the wasps got them. The tree gave us nearly 18 kg of fruit!  So apart from loads of jam I tried to make some Plum Compote but decided to blitz it instead and make a coulis. After trying some on ice-cream I spooned the remainder into ice cube trays to freeze

Then bagged them for use whenever we feel like some..

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Its September already!

I cant believe how fast the last few weeks have gone, whats that all about?

I feel like we havent had a break, but I blame the fact we are getting an extension put onto the house for that. We have kinda been tied to the house for most of the summer.

The kids are gone back to school today and now its time to start looking towards the winter, and start storing what veg we have left.

We have to decide how we are going to store the spuds we have yet to harvest, (we have loads of British Queens still in the ground) and get them before the slugs do!!

The onions we planted late have started to fall over, and look nice and big:
The hail last wk damaged them a bit
We will have to take them out too in a week or so.
We're still learning, so everything has to be fully researched first before we go ahead and do it.

The parsnips are gonna be left in the ground for the forseeable future, and we have already started eating the turnips, and will probably leave them in the ground too for another while.

Our greatest harvest this year has been Plums and we didnt even plant the tree! have over 10kg so far..

and loads of jam made...

With Xmas presents sorted I had to find another way of using all those Plums...Last year we tried making Sloe gin for the first time and it turned out great (still have some left over). So found a recipe for Plum Vodka....
Plums, sugar, just add vodka

All shook up!
It should be ready for Christmas!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Ya win some, ya lose some

We have had a hard year trying to grow carrots, they just never 'bloomed'. But a few did manage to grow a bit.
Then I noticed one day that something else other than slugs were starting to enjoy what there was of the few carrots we had....never seen it before

Wasps! I had heard of them attacking fruit but never veg still in the ground.
Anyway they only had 2 attacked, the rest I harvested...

I think the soil was a bit too fertile for these !! Must remember that next year.

Our Tomatos have started to produce as well, the Gardeners Delight are ripening (& taste gorgeous) but our San Marzano tomatos are all still green.

Glenveagh Castle & Gardens, Donegal

I just have to share another post about our hols to Donegal, promise its the last one, but I couldnt leave out our visit to the garden in the middle of Glenveagh national park.
Lough Veagh
The castle itself was built between 1870 and 1873, a large mansion built by a fella Captain John Adair, who wanted it to look like Balmoral castle in Scotland.
The castle & veg garden
View from the lake

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Bunbeg, a wee harbour in Donegal

While on our hols in Donegal we happened upon the small harbour of Bunbeg, and enjoyed a bite of lunch in the small cafe/bar/B&B that is situated at the entrance of the harbour, with views over the water. It used to be a mill once in its lifetime.

The cream building is the old mill

 Looking at the photo above you would never think there is a big harbour behind you, a great site for it. Cannot imagine the waters ever getting too stormy here.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Our day trip through Donegal

The most annoying thing about a 'staycation' in Ireland is the unpredictable weather, as we all know only too well over the past few (so called) summers.

BUT as we all know too, no matter what type of weather there is we will always manage to find a gem of a view or a waterfall or something that takes our breath away. And when theres been alot of rain theres loads of fast flowing water!

Myself and herself love the countryside, especially anything to do with water (maybe thats why we ended up living in Cavan, a lake for every day of the year!) and it felt like we stopped to have a look at every river/stream and lake we came across on our way from Letterkenny to Glenveagh National Park.

I make no apologies for the following photos, the day was dull and overcast but I took loads....heres a few hehe

Poor solitary tree