Bridget

Archive for April 11th, 2011|Daily archive page

Blueberries, Potatoes & Rushes.

In Cooking, Foraging., Gardening, sustainable living on April 11, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Bilberry in flower.

Every Irish garden, including our own, now seems to have a few Blueberry plants. They are of course very popular in the supermarkets where it costs about 3 euros for 100g. Famed for their antioxidant properties they are classed as a healthy food, which of course they are. Many seem to have forgotten about our native Blueberry, the Fraughan, Bilberry, Blaeberry or whatever other local names they carry. They are of course FREE and organic especially if you find some on a quiet road where they won’t be contanimated by car fumes. It can be hard to spot them later on in the season. They are in flower now so when out walking, especially in areas with peaty ground, keep an eye out for the small, pink, urn-shaped flowers. mark the spot in your mind and return there in late July when the berries will be ripe.

Planting Blueberries in tractor tyre filled with ericaous compost.

The day traditionally marked for picking the fruit was the Sunday closest to 1st August. This day had various names all over the country. In Tipperary it was called Rock Sunday as we all climbed Devil’s Bit Mountain and picked berries on the way down. Other names include Fraughan Sunday and Garland Sunday. Of course this day is a remnant  of the ancient Celtic Festival of Lughnasa, Lugh was the Celtic God of the Sun.

Recently I have been hearing and reading up about growing in straw, especially good for potatoes as they don’t have to be dug just pull back the straw to harvest what you want. Always willing to try an experiment I have planted some Colleen potatoes in the big polytunnel using rushes instead of straw. Andy has been strimming the fields so no shortage of rushes.

First lay a layer of newspaper to keep down the weeds.

Place Potatoes on top, about a foot apart, these ones are well sprouted.

Top with a good thick layer of rushes, or straw, water well. The theory is that as the straw rots down it provides nourishment for the growing plants. How will it do? Watch this space, I will keep you updated!

Rhubarb is a fruit @ Prospect Cottage!

In Cooking, Gardening, sustainable living on April 11, 2011 at 7:31 am

This little Saxifrage has just come into flower, the blooms are small but so numerous they make a big impact. The Saxifrages are a great choice for a difficult area. This one is growing under a tree on dry, stony ground. They can become over invasive but easy enough to pull out what you don’t want.

Rhubarb, the first welcome fruit of the season is classified as a vegetable in all gardening books. To me it will always be a fruit, usable in jams, chutneys, cakes and crumbles or just plain stewed. ITS A FRUIT! Nothing was harvested from these plants last year, they were planted the previous year and left to develop. We can reap the reward this year. Mulched well with farmyard manure in the Winter they have produced a great healthy looking crop of thick chunky sticks. Rhubarb contains vitamins A and C plus calcium and iron. The leaves are poisonous but can be composted. A natural insecticide can be made by boiling the leaves for about 30 minutes then using the resulting brew against aphids and other pests. 1 and a half kgs of Rhubarb leaves to 3 and a half litres of water.

In the polytunnel yesterday morning, before it got too hot, I pricked out the Cabbages into modules. They will be kept in these until the roots fill the spaces then planted into the earth. By then they will be a good size and less likely to be damaged by slugs!