Bridget

Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Autumn time, abundance, independence and saving seeds.

In Gardening, sustainable living on August 29, 2012 at 3:00 pm

 

 

As Autumn makes it’s presence felt we await the ripening of Mother Nature’s offerings. A little more sunshine is needed to sweeten and ripen these Blackberries in the hedgerow. The shorter mornings and darker evenings seem to have descended quickly from the long days of the Summer that was barely evident. Maybe an Indian Summer is around the corner!!

In the garden there is an abundance of produce right now. The freezers are filled with fruits and vegetables which will be used to feed us and make preserves through the Winter. Onions and Garlic are drying in the polytunnel. I feel priviliged to have land that we use to produce so much of our food. Last week I read that Ireland imported 324million euros worth of fruit and veg from Britain last year. Sad that a country which proclaims independence is so dependent on imports from other countries to feed it’s people.  True independence, in my opinion, is only plausible when a country can sustain it’s own food supply. With rising fuel prices affecting the price of groceries worldwide it would seem wise for us to grow, grow, grow.

 

Regardless of weather there is so much that grows well in Ireland. We had fantastic crops this year from berried fruits, alliums did great and beans were incredibly productive. These beans above are being left to produce seed for next year. So easy, just leave some large pods at the end of the season, don’t be too quick to tidy up, and in a few weeks they will have dried out and be ready for harvesting. Remove from pods and store in a dry place and you have next years crop ready to be germinated . With 10 companies now controlling up to 70% of the world’s seed supply I think seed saving is a sensible step to take.

“To see things in the seed, that is genius.–Lao Tzu

Tomatoes are another crop from which seeds can be easily saved. Just soak the seeds to wash off the jelly like coating then dry them out on a piece of kitchen paper and viola! you have next years seeds. Do save from plants of organic origin.

“Abundance is not something we acquire, it is something we tune into.–Wayne Dyer

I shall be away from here for awhile as I am having a break from blogging and visiting and commenting on other people’s blogs. Happy Autumn days to you all. I will be back in the not too distant future. Bridget xx.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The return of Summer!

In Animals, Gardening, sustainable living on August 8, 2012 at 4:40 pm

After what seems like months this week saw the welcome return of Summer to Ireland. Even though we are dependent on rain to maintain the lush greener that typifies Ireland it is nice to have Summer sunshine. July was one of the wettest and dullest since records began. But for this week at least the forecast is good…bright sunshine and dry weather all week.

 The Goats love this weather. They hate rain as their coats are not waterproof. If it’s raining they stay in their shed and look miserable. Many times I have seen Goats tied out in fields and they make for a miserable sight. I wonder how their owners would like it to be tied to a post in the rain and cold??

Today I finished picking the last of the Blackcurrants. The harvest went on for a month this year as the fruit ripened very slowly due to lack of sun. Despite that the harvest was fantastic. Actually all the berries produced a good crop this year. Not so good for Apples and Plums but one can’t have it all. Maybe berries are the way to go in our changing climate.  As I harvest the Blackcurrants I prune off the branches which have fruited. This is a good way of pruning. Two jobs in one!

The Goats are rather partial to the prunings. I wonder if the leaves have Vitamin C like the berries? Some prunings will be used as cuttings. I don’t bother with putting them in a trench over Winter etc like all the gardening books will tell you. I just put them in a bucket with some water and roots form in a month or two. They are then planted in their final positions. Cuttings treated this way last year provided fruit this year. Some Willow in the water helps the rooting as Willow has fantastic rooting properties and helps other plants take root. Amazing!!

The Cherry tree which was planted in this old tractor tyre sadly died, Cherries don’t do well here, so it was finally removed this Spring. In March Potatoes were planted here and mulched with garden compost. They have done well and so has all the stuff which germinated from the compost! I don’t have the heart to remove self-seeded plants which sometimes works to my detriment. The dilemna now is how to dig out the Potatoes without losing all my lovely Borage and Marigolds? I suppose I’ll just have to wait until it all dies down. Even Strawberries which I thought were dead have reemerged and fruited.

Another lot of compost used to mulch around the Damson tree has produced a wonderful crop of Marigolds. No Damsons this year though!

Much to my delight the Water Lily planted in the pond in the gravel garden has produced a flower this year. I must do a post on the gravel garden. Planted just over a year ago it has done really well and things are filling out nicely there. But that’s for another day. Off now to catch some evening rays.

Garden in the rain…

In Garden, Gardening, nature on June 7, 2012 at 1:54 pm

The Poppies had been fully opened for the last few days…today they are closed and hanging low with the weight of the rain. Love their colour…so vibrant.

The leaves of Escallonia are super shiny in the rain. The forecasters say it is to rain all day today and tomorrow then nice again for the weekend. Fingers crossed they’re right.

Usually the Foxgloves are having lots of Bumble Bees visiting…but not today.

Lady’s Mantle is of course well known for how it holds the droplets of water. It also has medicinal use…it is astringent, styptic, tonic and vulnerary. Culpepper says that “It is proper for those wounds that have inflammation, and is effective to stay bleedings, vomitings, and fluxes of all sorts.”

Hostas also hold the water on their leaves. With all the dry weather we’ve had the slugs have’nt had a chance to devour them this year…so far.

The little pond in the big polytunnel is full again. I had to fill it fill it from the tap for the last few weeks as it was almost dry. You can’t see them in the pic but there’s loads of tadpoles in there…did’nt want them dying. Frogs are great for keeping the slug population under control. These seem to be at the tadpole stage for ages. Anyone know how long it takes for them to mature into frogs?

It’s garden visiting time….

In Garden, Gardening, Off the beaten track. on June 5, 2012 at 10:25 am

June, July and August are the months for garden visiting here in Ireland. Gardens are at their best and the weather is usually ok. The weather was’nt great this past weekend but,  undaunted,  a friend and I decided to visit Saffron Thomas’s garden in Ardsoran, about 6 miles from Boyle. This garden is part of the Secret Gardens of Sligo initiative which sees gardens open to the public to raise funds for charity.

The garden is set on a south facing slope and the site is bordered by mature trees giving it a lovely secluded feel. Big wide borders filled with a combination of old favourites and rare and unusual plants make for an interesting peruse. This lovely border filled with blues, pinks and purples sweeps down to one of the ponds.

I love gardens with ponds, so beneficial for nature and of course they add an interesting extra dimension to the garden.

No chemicals are used anywhere in this land. The result is a beautiful garden filled with the humming of bees and busy with insects flying hither and thither. A feast for the senses.

A little wooden bridge leads to a path that takes you on a walk around the perimiter of the big field at the back. Already planted with so many varieties of trees, the long term plan is to have another very large pond on this as yet undeveloped part of the garden. This is a garden that is continually expanding. Every year Saffron collects, plants and nurtures thousands of seeds, resulting in thousands of plants needing planting areas. With a total of 7 acres there is lots of room for expansion.

Several sculptures are set amongst the plants adding extra interest. This is a piece of found bog oak set atop a lovely piece of wood decorated with a spiral. I really like that!

There are also 2 polytunnels and a small orchard here. One polytunnel has just been erected,  the other has been there several years. The long standing tunnel is so filled with plants it has a jungle feel. Vegetables, flowers and shrubs being brought on for the garden all together make for an interesting  feast for the senses. Plants like the climbing Snapdragon above and many more that I did’nt know existed keep one’s interest.

If you are in the Sligo/Roscommon area do check out the Secret Gardens of Sligo. It raises money for charity and opens up gardens off the beaten track that are varied and interesting. They also have a Facebook page.

Click on pics to enlarge.

Summer time in Arigna.

In Garden, Gardening on June 2, 2012 at 9:41 am

Everything is  fresh and lush after the recent rain. It was much needed as everything was so dry and the water pressure in our well had dropped. The weather is still summery but without the very high temperatures we had at the end of May. We Irish are not genetically adapted to very hot weather.

The Elder tree is just coming into flower here. Soon it will be time for cordial and wine making. Gooseberries and Elderflowers make a delicious jam combination.

The fields are flush with grass for the animals. Does’nt Daphne look cute amongst the Buttercups?

The Broom is giving a great colour show right now…it’s bright yellow so eye catching.  In the past Broom was used in the treatment of dropsy…it is not used nowadays as the plant is considered too toxic. It is poisonous to animals but they don’t touch it anyway. It always amazes me how animals know instinctively what plants to avoid. Broom grows in abundance by the river…I lifted this as a small seedling from the river bank 2 years ago and it has grown rapidly to this 5ft high monster.  Considered a weed by many…I love it!

The perennial Geraniums are starting to flower…they will give weeks of colour in the borders…especially if they are dead-headed regularly.

Purple is one of my fave colours so I really appreciate these Alliums flowering at the moment. I buy a few more of these bulbs each year.

Foxglove is starting to reveal it’s gorgeous blooms…another weed…to some people… but one again that we allow to self-seed.

Love this Iris…

In the vegetable beds these Cabbages have put on a spurt of growth after the rain and warmth. Not long to wait until we will be harvesting these.

Click on pics to enlarge.

Friday Fotos from Prospect Cottage.

In Gardening, green living on March 9, 2012 at 7:22 pm

 

Daffodils about to bloom…these should be in flower for St. Patrick’s Day.

 

Lots of growth on Summer flowering plants in the background.

 

Tete a tete still in flower. Poached Egg plant, in front, survived the mild Winter.

 

Hot chocolate in Sligo…did’nt realise the “large” would be quite this big! We managed it though!

 

First Peach blossoms in the polytunnel. I will hand pollinate these when all the blooms are out. Not enough insects yet to do the job.

 

The first forage…picking Wild Garlic in Lough Key Forest Park.

 

Made Wild Garlic and Parsley pesto. Delicious with pasta and home-grown salad.

 

Planting Foxgloves with local school children. The teacher told me the old local name for Foxgloves is Fairy Fingers.

Click on pics to enlarge.

March many weathers!

In Gardening, green living on March 7, 2012 at 6:12 pm

 

Today was a real crazy weather day. We had everything… beautiful sunshine, gale force winds, hail, snow and rain!

Check that out! Ten minutes later it was melted away by brilliant sunshine! Today gave truth to the saying “March many weathers.”

 

Despite the weather I managed to continue with my Moon planting. Today was a fruit day, in this category are all those plants which have their seeds within the fruit. I planted, in modules, Broad Beans, Peas and Sugar snap Peas. All the seed trays are in this contraption in the polytunnel. It is an old metal bunk bed which is covered in plastic. It works fine even though there is no heat mat. I think plants are tougher when brought on without extra heat. I do sow Tomatoes and Peppers in a small propogator though, then harden them off when they’re potted on.

 

These sowings are doing fine in the cocooned environment under the plastic. Three types of Lettuce, Cabbage, Flat Parsley and Curly parsley from earlier seed scatterings.

 

I did’nt stay out too long today, just enough to plant the seeds and walk the dogs. It was a short walk today! As evening approached there was hail again and out of it emerged a rainbow. I stepped out the front door to take the pic, then quickly in again. Yes, March many weathers!

As February Ends…all is well.

In Gardening, sustainable living on February 28, 2012 at 11:03 pm

As February comes to a close the frog orgy in the pond has finished and there is lots of spawn as a result. That’s a huge mass of it at top near where Freddie is. This pond was dug out only 2 years ago so it’s nice that Nature has accepted our efforts. Last year there were frogs too but not as many as this year. In the polytunnel the tiny pond there also has frog spawn. I think the frogs hibernated at the bottom of it over Winter. It’s great to have frogs in the polytunnel as they eat lots of slugs.

This amorous couple were by the back door a few days ago. I almost stepped on them as I went out. They were quiet a way from the pond so I gathered them up and deposited them there. Apparently frogs always come back to the spot where they spawned from so once established one should always have a merry band of slug devourers!

Today was a perfect day for working in the garden. It was a dry, calm, very still day. I spent the afternoon tidying up the long border. It took about 4 hours but I’m glad it’s done.

As I worked the only sound was birdsong and an occasional tinkle from the wind chimes.

My favourite Daffodil, the little Tete a Tete, has just started flowering. It has a beautiful subtle scent. Oh Spring, you are so welcome.

As evening approached we realised that Lettie would need a wash. She had found some badger poo and had a good ol roll in it. I love badgers but their poo stinks. I don’t understand why but Lettie loves to get that scent on herself. Our 2 male dogs never do this. Andy filled the mop bucket with nice tepid water and in she went.

Lettie hates water so she was’nt too impressed. The expression says it all!

If looks could kill! She is happily ensconsed on her fave seat tonight, clean, but not “talking” to either of us!

A Spring Day in Winter!

In Animals, Gardening on January 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Officially it is still Winter but the weather has it’s own mind. Today was Springlike in the valley. Just beautiful! I spent late morning pruning last years growth, now dead and brown, from the perennials on the bed by the Birch tree. I leave it over Winter so the birds can feast on any seeds. The birds kept me entertained as I worked,  lots of them singing and chirping in the Birch tree. So many Tits and Chaffinches, and a few Goldfinches too. Can you spot the little Blue Tit in the Birch Tree?

It’s amazing how much early growth there’s been this year, 23rd January today and Sweet Cicely is already flowering.

Arum Lily has put on a lot of growth and

Escallonia is looking lush and healthy. Last year it came through the Winter but looked battered and bruised.

In the afternoon Lisa the Equine Dentist came to look at Daphne’s teeth. Donkeys teeth need to be checked anually especially as they get older. Daphne is about 22 now. Far back in the Donkey’s jaw are the molars, these often give trouble because the upper jaw is wider than the lower jaw, the grinding movement is from side to side, so the teeth on the outer edges of the upper jaw and the inner edges of the lower do not get any wear. This in time leads to sharp points developing which will cause discomfort for the animal. The dentist uses a rasp, which is like a giant file, to rectify the problem.

Daphne did’nt need her teeth rasped today but she did have a loose tooth which Lisa extracted very quickly. Loose teeth can be sore and impede grazing so they do need to be checked by an expert.

And there it is, the troublesome tooth, gone! Daphne did’nt seem a bit bothered and returned to grazing as soon as she was back in the field.

A January Day.

In arigna, Gardening on January 14, 2012 at 2:39 pm

The morning sky looks bleak despite the blue. Are those chemtrails or just harmless vapour trails? I wonder!!

The animals are constantly watching the door to see if they have any titbits to recieve. Their faves are Ginger Nut biscuits and Carrots.

Ash trees against a grey sky. Kilronan Mountain in the background.

Early afternoon sees a blue sky giving some hope of sunshine… which alas does not appear.

Through the garden gate an old tree stump has become colonised with Foxgloves. One of my fave native wild flowers. They did’nt have the distress of a hard Winter this year so perhaps they will flower before May.

Aster too is showing strong growth. I will divide this clump in the coming days. Now is the perfect time for this work in this frost free mild (for January) weather.

 By evening the sky is grey and cloudy. Another January day almost at an end. Not too many more until the 1st of February, St. Brigid’s Day, Imbolc the Celtic festival of Earth once again awakening.

As darkness falls we light the fire in the small stove in our sitting room. Candles are lit, a nice meal prepared, watch a bit of telly and a bit of the world wide web. Another January day ends in Arigna.