Sunday, 29 May 2011

A dry days viewing

At the entrance to our home there is an old Rose bush, now laden down with buds. We spotted the first flowers today. Gorgeous wee white blooms...

Looking forward to seeing it in its full glory!
We love Roses, and its been kinda exciting wondering what colour flowers the 2 bushes the previous owners left behind would turn out.
Well the second bush is at the front of our house, and another gorgeous bloom is starting to peek out..
Its going to be a busy week in our house methinks....have a bit of housework to do before the weekend (youngest having his first Holy Communion Sat), then the wood for the fencing is due during the week plus the top soil order. Must get our planks of wood for the raised beds, no good having the soil and no beds!! And hopefully by the end of the week we will have our new heating system installed too (fingers crossed!!!)

While watering our Tomatoes & Peppers in the polytunnel this evening our 'slug killer' hopped out from under a growbag and made for the side of the tunnel....while I made for my camera! he/she is only a baby but hopefully a hungry baby!

And heres a picture of some more of our neighbours...these guys are noisey feckers!! (theres 7 in total)

Friday, 27 May 2011

More babies...

Our neighbouring farmer has had some new additions to his farm; this mother had her baby four days ago, and spent the first few days hidden away in a top field, but came a little closer to our house yesterday.
He also has more Goats (as if the five he had wasnt enough!), as far as I can figure out he has 2 sets of twins, but I cannot get a good shot (as in picture, mind you if they cross our fence..... hehe) of them yet.

Sprouting Leeks
More babies are our own...our Leeks and Cabbage have germinated.
Cabbage seedlings

We are a bit behind with planting most of our veg, but hopefully over the next 2 weeks that will be rectified.............we have a few ton of top soil due next week and we have found a salvage yard that sells old scaffolding planks, so we can make a few more raised beds.

I have to keep reminding myself that this is our first year, and as the saying goes 'Rome wasnt built in a day'.

Now if we could only get a bit more dry hours in the day I might get a bit more of the garden dug for those raised beds!!

Monday, 23 May 2011

NOT a day for the garden!

Such winds!!!

I was woken up early this morning with the gusts of wind outside, and the fear that my mini greenhouses would be blown over!
But luckily they were still standing. I wasn't long getting up though to move them to a more sheltered position!

The gusts never let up all day, and the showers were heavy and frequent.
But I got out for a look around this evening when the showers stopped to check on everything.....

One of our apple trees, the biggest one, had blown over.
The ties that had held it up had snapped, the tree too top heavy to withstand the force of the wind.
But it looks like we can pull it back up without damaging it too much.........hopefully.

Our little Dahlia snapped as well.....sigh..... even the smallest of damage  isnt nice.
I hope all other gardeners had little or no damage today!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Job nearly done....between showers

Well when it was sunny it was really sunny but when it was wet it was really wet.

Although I did manage to get out for a lovely walk with my 2nd son (1st son at a party) & our Jack Russell to a local forest park for an hour.

Back out to the garden in the afternoon my trench had taken on a bit of water during the night...
Thats the problem with our garden, theres an incline, as you can see from the pic, and the water lodged at the bottom.
But not a problem for long. Emptied the compost bin.......

It was funny, there was a smell of rotten stuff along with the sweet smell of Oranges!
I emptied it all into the trench and covered it back over.

I managed to get it all filled in before another shower.
But I didnt have time to give the solid clay a bit of a mix up.
We have ordered more top soil so I might have to add a bit to this mound before putting anything in it to grow.

We have sooo much happening in the next few weeks at our house I dont know what to do next!
Hopefully by this time next week this shed will be flattened to give way to a new extension to our house....

Saturday, 21 May 2011

The joys of an Irish Gardener!

Rain, rain and more I have a faint memory of wishing for rain a while back because we got none (not one drop) for 3 weeks solid back in April, but now I've had enough, and take back my wish.

What happened to rain some days, sunny other days and rain again? just like when I was a kid??

Its kinda disrupting my outdoor plans.......
Yesterday, apart from my Pepper graduation, I managed to dig a trench, 15 ft long, 3ft wide and a spade length in depth (about 12 inches).
We are getting in a new heating system in our cottage this week and I have to move a compost bin first (its beside our oil tank which is being moved) The previous owners left it behind so I have no idea whats in it or how long its been there.
So the plan is to empty the bin into the trench and cover it over. Then later on in June I plan on planting some of the Courgettes and Gourds on the trench.

The Pumpkins are going to be planted on another mound, which will have the rotten seaweed from our seaweed Tea under it.

Its all a big experiment but it sounds good!

Now if the rain would just ease off a bit I might get my job finished!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Our Peppers have graduated!

I feel like my kids have just graduated and now they have to go out into the big bad world and look after themselves!

Why do I feel like this? Well I planted out our Pepper plants today in the polytunnel.

I sowed 5 'fiesta f1' seeds and 25 'long red marconi' back in February, watched them germinate 2/3 weeks later.
And I have been watching and minding them on our kitchen windowsill since!
I started 'hardening them off' 2 weeks ago, putting them out in mini greenhouse and bringing them in every evening.

So I got the growbags ready, put them in the polytunnel yesterday to warm up, then planted out my babies today.

We decided to try putting 3 plants in per bag, just as we did for the Tomato plants, and hope for the best.............
I suppose if we cant get into the polytunnel in a month or 2 we have no one to blame but ourselves hehe

So we have 5 'fiesta f1' plants, and 12 'long reds', plus one special plant........a pepper seed from a bought pepper.

So fingers crossed they all live!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

EVERYONE should grow Spuds!

Anyone who has ever grown potatoes will know just how easy they are to grow.

So why doesnt more people do it?

I think next year I will give my urban friends a pot each with a few potatoes and let them see how easy it is, and how great the end product tastes.
I grew up on a farm, where every year we had to plant spuds in drills, in a field, by hand (as did every other country family). It was hard work, esp for us kids, but when the first of the crop were harvested, and my mother placed a steaming bowl of new spuds in the middle of the table for dinner, all that hard work was forgotten about.
All we needed was butter, and it is that memory that has me craving my own home grown spuds ever since!

I did attempt to grow them twice while living in the Dublin suburbs, once in a raised bed, and the second time in 2 large pots.
Both times were a great success. 38 I have enough space to grow them with relative ease.

Our 16' long raised beds
So we got our boys to plant their first potatoes, 'second earlys' Kerrs Pinks in the raised bed on the right, and 'main crop' British Queens on the left, with a few left over British Queens thrown inbetween the Kerrs Pinks on the right (I didnt want to throw away any of our 'chitted' seed potatoes). That was the 30th March, this picture was taken the other day:
Main crop (L) second earlys (R)
Cant wait until we get our first harvest, but no need to rush out buying the 'real' butter just yet...

Got a close up pic of a neighbour this evening, thought I'd share!
He is in next door with his mum, but no other lambs. It seems he is one of the last lambs to be born to our neighbouring farmer, whose other 90 (or so) sheep have all lambed months ago.

I was out at our polytunnel when I spotted him, and he ran over to the ditch for a nosey, then dutifully posed for me!!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The smelly side of Organic gardening!

Five weeks ago we got some fresh Seaweed from a Sligo beach and managed to get it back home (3 hour drive) without it stinking out the car too much!
Put it in a plastic bin, filled it with fresh water and let it ferment!
And fermenting is what it has been doing with gusto since!

Every few days we give it a stir, any excuse to check it out.
In another 2 months or so we can start using it but it has to be diluted down first with water 10:1.
This is what it looked like this morning, before the stirring:

Looks ok, but it is starting to smell awful!
We plan on using it for our potatos and Brassicas, it is rich in minerals and nitrogen and very potent fertiliser (pity about the potent smell!)

In the meantime my partner put some freshly cut nettles into another plastic bin, filled it with fresh water and now 4 weeks later we have lovely Nettle Tea to use on everything! (except the carrots/parsnips of course who do not like fertile ground).
Such an easy fertiliser, nettles are found everywhere!

But OMG it it the worst smell we have ever smelled!

Well my partner started using it today, and hopefully we will start seeing the benefits soon.
This is diluted 10:1 with water, the same as the Seaweed Tea.

Warning though: use gloves when using it, and be careful not to splash any on your clothes!!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Soil problems.........

Oh I never thought when we bought a house with a large garden that we would need to buy in Top Soil!

When making up some smaller raised beds (4' by 3') we bought a tonne of top soil mix, all of which was used.

But still we dont have enough beds for all we want to plant out, so more raised beds needed plus more top soil!

We have the misfortune of having Heavy Clay, and when its wet its very wet, and when it gets dry it gets very dry.

We are also at the bottom of a slight slope, so all the rain comes down the slope into our garden.
Great for the frogs, but not great for us!!

So off we go (again) sourcing soil ! & us living in the middle of the countryside!
The funny thing is we'll probably end up getting it from Dublin !!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Talk about fast!!!!

Its only been 7 days since I first blogged with pictures of our Pumpkin/Gourds germination.............well this is what they look like this evening!
Our 'hundredweight' Pumpkins!
Our Gourds a week on!
The Pumpkins are in 3" pots, but I will have to move them on very soon!
The Gourds seem to be growing upwards because they dont have enough room in the 3"pots they are in. I will move them into individual ones this week.

I never thought they would grow soooo fast!
They are an amazing plant to grow, great for kids (who are very impatient for things to grow).

As for my Courgettes; well the windowsill is starting to look small, so I will have to start hardening them off this week.

They already have their second set of true leaves!
Their first true leaves are massive!

I've had a very busy weekend family wise, so am looking forward to getting into the garden tommorow, fingers crossed we get a dry day!

Friday, 13 May 2011

You're having a laugh!

Okay Mother Nature I know I asked for less rain, but Hailstones???? What is up with that?
My Peas are safe in here!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Enough rain already!

Okay, last week I was wishing for a drop of rain so our garden could get refreshed after 3 dry weeks........but now I am wishing it would stop! well just for a little bit anyway.

I think anyone who gardens is probably the minute we want rain the next a dry spell.

So this is the compromise oh wonderful Mother Nature.........I'd like rain during the night, not too much though, and then in the morning (like this morning when I was lulled into a false sence of security/hope) let your wonderful sunshine dry up the ground just enough so I can work it, and plant more of your wonderful creations.
Then as the afternoon passes I will know you wont send thunder showers that will wash away any newly planted seeds, but a mild drizzle just to water things down before dusk.

So because I have been stuck indoors today I have been trying to keep busy by researching prices of Timber Fencing and suppliers who deliver...............not an easy task!

We have a ditch one side of our garden, about 50metres long, and although we are trying to become farmers in our new abode/life we would rather the neighbours Goats didnt call in to visit!
When we moved in there was nothing to stop them from coming in:

View of some of the offending ditch

Now we dont mind the Hens coming to visit, but Goats eat EVERYTHING, including bark off Apple trees.

Sooo, I cleared/tidied up the ditch:

 and put up some posts and sheep wire:

 Now the problem is our Jack Russell who is very, very inquisitive and playful. We cant let him off the lead when outdoors yet (hes not used to this rural lifestyle yet), because he would LOVE to go visit in next door.

Along with the Hens & Goats, the neighbour has Ducks, Geese, Sheep/Lambs, Cattle.........every Jack Russells dream play things!

Keeping an eye on the neighbours!
So the only solution is block his view by putting up timber fencing boards, not a cheap or easy job!

I cannot put all the blame for this venture on the dog......we too would like a bit more privacy.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

My little helpers...well I hope they will be

Being Organic in the garden is going to be difficult methinks!

BUT we have to try dont we, and sure what will be will be.
I have to get into a new mindset that not everything is going to grow or survive. That the pests need to eat too!
As someone once said if you are planting Lettuce make sure you plant enough for the slugs/rabbits too!

Well Aphids have been busy on a few of our apple trees.
We only noticed when this started to happen :

A spray of soapy water slowed their eating spree down though, my partner did all the hard work...not easy when there is 7 trees to hand spray!

I read in various gardening books that companion planting with flowers and veg can help ward off garden pests.
So I planted a load of Nasturtiums and French Marigolds in modules earlier and now I think they are ready to plant out (as soon as the monsoon rains have passed).

These are my Nasturtiums, I saved the seed from ones I had last year and so far so good:
The Aphids love them so I will plant a few around all the trees in our orchard, and hope for the best. They will also act as a mulch under the trees and help keep moisture around the roots.

These are the French Marigolds, also grown from saved seed:
I hope they flower now!
These will be dotted around the garden too.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Didnt doss ALL day!

Well I managed to get around to splitting up my 2 pots of Courgettes into individual ones this afternoon.
Dunno if the pot is even big enough because they already look big on their own in them!!
I forgot to mention these Courgettes are 'cocozelle'.
One of our 10 unfortunately had to go to the compost bin (pot fell over and the stem got broken oops).
So there were 9..............

And our 'hundredweight' Pumpkins are thriving beginning to get a wee bit worried.....if these plants keep growing at this rate I wont have enough space in the veg. garden for them all !

Inbetween the showers yesterday..

We ventured outside yesterday afternoon after the storm to check on our young and I took some photos of a few of them.
That was the first really bad storm we have had all year here, thunder/lightening and hailstones, followed by a massive downpour. We felt sorry for the poor cattle in the field beside us trying to take cover under a big auld Horse Chestnut tree. I got a photo of the rain after it had passed....I pity anyone caught outdoors in it!

Our first Rose buds are out, and survived the storm, thankfully they were in a sheltered spot.
This is from a Hybrid Rose, no other name, it's a small patio Rose that we bought last year in the local supermarket.

I planted a few Dahlia tubers about 3 weeks ago, this one I planted in an old metal watering can that had seen better days. Its coming on nicely, looking forward to it filling out and flowering!
Dahlias bring back nice memories for me of my childhood. My mother had loads of them in the garden and their flower always intrigued me.

And our Strawberries are starting to lose their flowers, fruit starting to show and the sneaky runners are flying!(am being cruel and cutting them off).

Monday, 9 May 2011

This mornings delight!

I just had to put up a picture of our Gourds, the same ones I put up here yesterday.
Its amazing how much they have grown in 24 hours!
At this rate I will have to take over a few more windowsills, between these and the massive Courgettes I wish I have a heated greenhouse.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Our Tomato Plants

This will be our first time trying to grow Tomato plants, we have 2 types, Gardeners Delight (a wee cherry) & San Marzano (big boy for pasta sauces).

Planted them out into these gro-bags in the tunnel 2 weeks ago and they are still alive, good start I'd say!

I think they have grown a bit since leaving the nursery (kitchen windowsill).

Cant wait to see them grow..........and if we are lucky get a good harvest.

A new beginning!

What better way to start anew but to blog about new life?

I planted some Gourds and Pumpkin seed 5 days ago and they have started to sprout already!
These are the Gourds & for anyone who doesnt know what these are, (like myself until I bought the seed packet) they are the small, weird looking pumpkins, green, yellow, white, striped etc.

This pumpkin 'hundreweight' seed is only starting to peek through ^

Looking forward to seeing them grow.

We have loads of planting to do in the next week of our winter veg:
Parsnips, Cabbage, Turnips, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli and Leek.

The trouble is we dont have enough raised beds at the moment, I think we might end up planting in seed beds for the time being then transplant later on when we have some more beds made.

The courgettes are flying, I planted these seeds 2 weeks ago and now have seedlings big enough to go into individual pots.

 I didnt think the 10 seeds I planted would all sprout!
Having grown 2 of these plants a few years ago I know how bountiful they can be AND how big these plants can grow too!