Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Blackleg ! some of our spuds have it !

Ever heard of Blackleg? well I hadnt before this week.
I grew up on a farm, where spuds were grown in the field , in long drills, not the garden. So we had loads of them! and blight is the only disease that I thought affected Potatos.

But I am learning all the time and what better way to learn than to experience this kind of thing, unfortunately.

Noticed a couple of our Kerrs Pinks were wilting, the leaves had turned in and near the soil the stem had turned black.
When I started researching what was wrong Blackleg was the result.
The cure? pull out the diseased plants. We had to pull four plants, and so far I cant see it on any more so hopefully it hasnt spread.
On the positive side we had our first harvest of spuds, albeit a bit on the small side.
 And they were lovely too for the dinner this evening!!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Making a raised bed..

Finally, our order of second-hand scaffolding planks were delivered this morning.
And about time too! I had a bed prepared for the past few weeks waiting for the timber.

Our soil type is heavy clay and the back garden is at the bottom of a sloping field, which has a spring in as well! So after a few days rain our lawn is sopping wet to walk on. No drainage at all.
It would be a massive job to drain the entire garden, so we decided to put in a load of raised beds instead for our fruit/veg, along with the 2 already here (with spuds in this year).

To prepare the ground we dug up the turf, and dug down about a foot & half, then put in a layer of sand/gravel to help with drainage (we hope). Then put the turf/soil back in upside down.

And then waited on the planks to arrive....
So started the first bed today
16ft by 4ft bed
I set out the planks, fours 8ft planks and two 4ft planks for each end.
Then screwed each plank to the other.
I held each corner with a square post, and joined the longer planks with another 2 posts.
nearly there!
With the wood done it was time to fill it with top soil (which we had to buy), and some compost mix that we also got a while back.
Couldnt do it though because our wheelbarrow has a puncture!!!! and heres me thinking that it was a great idea buying a barrow with an inflatable tyre, only  I cant get the wheel off to repair it! Dont know what I'm going to do now.
So again our beds are put on hold, unless I start hauling buckets over and back to fill it....not likely.

Anyway, one down, three to go..............

Sunday, 26 June 2011

New Flower beds finished!

A couple of weeks back we decided we would have to do something about the mound in our front lawn, directly outside the front door. I'd say the previous owners had plans for it, judging by the amount of stones in it, but never got really started.
Before :View A
Before : View B
I took out all the big stones, then wed the whole thing...alot of big weeds with big roots!
Very satisfying feeling when I had it finished!
With the hardest bit done the easy bit was buying some perennials, which we did over the past 2 weeks (already blogged about some of em).
Well we covered the bed in weed control fabric (should really be called slug paradise!), then filled it with plants and today finally finished it off with bark.
I will stick up a picture when all the flowers are in full bloom later in the summer (oh and the big plant in the middle is actually an Acer palmatum, bought at last years Bloom in the Park, before a house purchase had fallen through, and has lived in its pot ever since!).
After: View A
After: View B
And we also finished another wee bed as well today, its gonna be called my partners 'birthday flower bed' because all the flowers were for her birthday, from our boys (which she picked out for herself lol). These are what I blogged about in my last blog 'more gorgeous flowers'.
We are looking forward to having loads of wee flower beds all over the front lawn.
But all in good time....

Now if only we could stop the slugs......they adore Dahlias! think I'll be making a visit to the flower beds tonight after I finish up here.

I really hope the weather gets better, would be great to have at least 2 days in a row dry, for a change.

Expecting our delivery of old scaffolding planks (for more raised beds) in the morning, ordered a month ago!
So I need a bit of dry weather to get them sorted.
Our poor veg seedlings think they are doomed to life in a module tray, but maybe by the end of the week we will have them free to grow.
Heres wishing...

Friday, 24 June 2011

More gorgeous flowers..

We called into a garden centre (couldnt pass it more like) after having lunch out for my partners birthday yesterday.
My kids wanted her to pick out some flowers as a birthday pressie, but as there was so much choice we ended up with more than one flowering plant!
We came away with a selection, and an idea for a new bed in the front garden.
Anyway, the ultimate goal for both of us is to have garden full of flowers, and very little lawn, but we are a long way off that yet!

The first flower to catch our eyes was this Dahlia, its vibrant red called at us to buy one! so we bought two:
We also picked up 2 trays of these gorgeous Salvia splendens, perennials but sold as annuals..
Salvia splendens
And to contrast all the red we picked up a tray of white flowers...'carpet of snow'
Lobularia maritima
Now most gardeners know that Dahlias come in alot of shapes, sizes and colours (except blue!) and I have seen alot of them over the years, and loved all of what I have seen. I think Dahlias could become a regular feature in all parts of our cottage garden (if soil allows ).
Especially if this is anything to go by..........
Dahlia goldalia
We bought three of them, full of buds and one gorgeous bloom each.
I think we have enough for now though.... buying them is sooo easy, its the planting out thats the hard bit.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

new life is always amazing !

Every day I study our Courgette plants, watching the flowers die and fall off, looks like they are all male flowers. Sadly still no sign of a female flower with fruit....
But while I have been sighing over them I nearly missed the new baby on one of our Pumpkin plants (which I still havent planted in the ground).
And loads of new buds have been peeping through on our patio Rose (which has travelled with us from our Dublin suburb).

New life is just wonderful, especially when that new life takes the form of a child!
Twice a year, on both my sons birthdays, I go back to when they were born. Two moments in my life I will never forget, memories I will cherish forever. Happy Birthday J !
This fella will be 9 in the morning, pic taken when he was 6, a moment captured by my partner (who shares his birthday, Happy Birthday Mrs Dory!!)

Monday, 20 June 2011

Twas like Christmas came early!

At the young age of 38 (nearly 39) I had all but forgotten the excitment of Christmas morning; going into the sitting room to see what Santa left behind during the night.. and then tearing open the wrapping paper to reveal the treasure inside.

Well I got a taste of that excitment again on Friday, when the courier delivered our order from Johnstown Garden centre. I couldnt wait to open the boxes :
Then I thought I'll grab my camera, before I opened any more, just to show what a great job the garden centre did wraping up our order of plants, all in 2 litre pots.
12 different types of perennial flowers.........hopefully all very hardy!
Heres a snippet of the ones that are in bloom already:
The tiny flowers of Achillea paprika
The beautiful Geum koi
Persicaria darjeeling red
Now all we have to do is prepare the beds we are going to plant them in! have a corner rockery nearly ready, will stick up some pictures of before/after when we have it finished.

And after my last blog I really needed something positive happening in the garden so here is the bit of life in the form of some salad seedlings:

Now if only we could get our order of old scaffolding planks so we can finish making up our raised beds..........by the time we get them done it will be too late to plant our winter veg!

Its tough starting out, we have to keep reminding ourselves that patience is a virtue and this time next year we will be far better organised than we are this year.

But for now lets hope for a bit more dry weather so at least we can have some colour for the next few months.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Watch pot never boils!!

And so bloody true that is!
I dont think our carrots have grown over the past few weeks, they seem to have stayed the same size since we planted them out.
And as for my Basil....its stunted, and the couple that are actually bigger than an inch are fast becoming the culinary delight of the slugs that seem to be surviving our night slug patrol; frog jr & snr (spotted a second frog the other night, an adult).
The Coriander I grew from seed has all died, they managed to get to their first set of 'true leaves' then stopped growing.
Our 'Gardeners Delight' Tomato plants are also stunted with wilted leaves on top. I am starting to think it was caused by the 2 days we had scorching temps, way back when..... we did have a heatwave didnt we? or am I just imagining it with all this rain & cold!
The Peppers seem to have also stopped growing, they too are being attacked by slugs, third one munched on last night (think I'll have to sack the frogs!)

At least these guys have been growing....
9 newly planted Gourds!
Well at least for now........they are probably all drowned out there tonight.

I'm starting to realise how much I love the planting of seed, then watching it germinate, more than the planting out and waiting for harvesting.. I have no patience!
So to that end I sowed some Little Gem and Iceberg Lettuce seedsthis evening, along with some Baby Spinach and Rocket seeds. This way I can satisfy my craving for watching stuff grow from the comfort of our kitchen windowsill (it had started to look bare again).
And maybe while I am distracted with the new growth inside the outside stuff will have a growth spurt!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Plums anyone?? hehe

Every evening myself and my partner do a 'walkabout' (when shes not at work) to survey our 'kingdom'; we feel so lucky to have a garden, and the simple joys that a newly ripened Strawberry or blackened Blackcurrants can give is wonderful !
Its at dusk that we can truly appreciate the hard work put in during the day. I for one look at the garden with a smile of achievement, rather than what else needs to be done.
And when we reach the polytunnel a slug or 2 have started  to peek out so we can do a bit of house moving for them (ie throw them onto the ditch). But last night my partner suggested we leave one slug that we found incase our resident frog doesnt have enough to eat..... ahem..... I threw it across the ditch, informing her that the poor frog will have enough to eat ! hehe

In the mornings, like this morning, I do a 'walkabout' but its with a different feeling. Firstly the fear that the goats have broken in earlier and destroyed our hard work (thankfully not this morning) and secondly anxiety mixed with excitment about all the work that has to be done in the next few weeks.

The first thing I did spot this morning (with camera in hand) was the neighbours goats, they ran away from our ditch, then stopped to look back at me

Cheeky !
Did find a big job that has to be done soon; one of the trees in the wee orchard has turned out to be a Plum tree, but as it is laden down with fruit it has to be thinned or the branches will break!!
Now if only the outside temperature would increase a wee bit so I have to motivation to leave the house........
I did bake a cake of brown bread though, so I dont feel soooo guilty for dossing online! yum, the smell is gorgeous.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Where is our summer?

Its so hard to believe its June, I managed to plant out 3 Courgette plants inbetween showers yesterday, but didnt have enough dry time to put up a shelter, so as you can see some old tyres which were near at hand have had to do the temporary trick!

But now we hear that the weather is to get colder and even some 'grass frost' tonight!! and the courgettes dont like the cold! what are we supposed to do? go dig them up again? We dont even have any fleece to cover them with, ah well its only our first year so we'll learn.......in time.

This morning there was a bit of sunshine so I took my camera out before I did a bit of gardening..

Our Turnips need thining!
Netting to keep the birds off!
The spuds have flowered
On a different note the neighbours goats (3 of them) broke into our garden the other day, they managed to climb up on a part of the ditch and used the sheep wire fence as leverage to jump across!! well my partner spotted them and had to chase them back out across a part of the ditch I cant fence yet. The ditch is now scattered with bits of wire and old wooden pallets to block up any openings they might fit through.
poor sad apple tree
In the few minutes they were in they managed to eat the heads off 2 of our 4 sunflowers, and leaves off our fruit trees....
I got a pic of 'Squeeky toy' and his brats of older brothers/sisters today, we'd better get a start on our timber fencing before he too pays us a visit!!
There is just too many things to be done at the same time in our garden, but as the saying goes 'Rome wasnt built in a day'.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Been a busy week...

It feels like ages since I blogged last, its been a busy week.

We had a heating change, swapped this
old oil cooker, now in our porch
for this....

and left with this gap to fill....

gorgeous isnt it?..not

So now we have the 'incredibly hard' job (tongue in cheek) of finding a new cooker to fill the gap...........hehe we are looking forward to this job with glee!!

That was Wed & Thurs, then on Sat our youngest child celebrated his First Holy Communion. The ceremony was lovely, the innocence of all the kids was a joy to witness, brought a wee tear to my eye!

So Bank Holiday weekend over its back to work!!

Courgette/Gourd bed
The Courgettes need a new home, and I've the bed ready for them. I decided to cover the bed with black permeable sheeting, not just to control weeds (not a problem with these veg) but to act like a mulch to retain moisture. The experts say that straw is great for under these type of plants, but I have no access to any straw.

They are all starting to flower, now I have the hard task of picking out 3 to plant, then give the remainder away.

Think we'll have loads of veg!
So we're off out to the garden now, it has stopped raining! yay! hopefully long enough to do some planting....we also have a few Dahlias, Fessias and Primulas that we bought at Bloom in the Park on Monday to plant. Must go....stop dossing!!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Oh to be a farmer...

I have a fair idea why people love being gardeners, (being a bit of one myself), but over the past few months I can fully understand why people love keeping animals.........and I dont mean the usual pets, I mean farm animals.
Babies, babies & more babies!
Our neighbour has a small holding and a selection of animals and fowl, and luckily for us we get to see whats going on 'over the hedge' alot these days.

I grew up on a farm, and when I was a child we had cattle, pigs and sheep, plus geese & turkeys for the Xmas and laying Hens all year round. By the time I hit my teens our farm was just a Dairy farm though (more money in a specialised area).

But since becoming an adult the only animals I have lived next door to have been cats & dogs, courtesy of our Dublin housing estate.

For years I longed for the country life. I longed to bring my kids up in a similar environment as I grew up in.
By moving to the country, buying a house with a large garden I knew I would get some of my wish, little did I know we would also get to live next door to such a variety of life (without having to do any of the hard work! lol).

Well mother horse & her foal have gotten braver and have been coming down the field the past couple of days, so yesterday my youngest came in to tell me that they were right beside our fence and I got my camera out.

And on the other side of our garden this mammy has twins!

He also has a few goats with young wans but I havent been able to get any decent pics of them....but I will!
We have noticed that the horse, cow and sheep are all very protective mammies, but the goats are completely the opposite with their babies!
We have given one of the 'kids' a nickname...'squeeky toy' because thats what it sounds like when the rest of his group run off on him and leave him behind in a different part of the yard/field. He eventually finds his family though, its never the other way round and until he does he squeeks and squeeks.
Might get a pic over the next few days, seeing as we're promised some dry weather! think I will just bring my camera out with me while in the garden.....ya just never know what ya gonna get!