Bridget

Posts Tagged ‘nasturtiums’

In the polytunnels…

In Garden, green living on July 10, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Despite the weather most things are doing well. This is the small polytunnel, the middle bed is planted with Carrots, with Garlic at each end to guard against carrot fly. Some self-seeded plants were also left to add a bit of colour, Borage, Orach and Poppies all came free in the garden compost.

One of the side beds is filled with Strawberry plants. They are almost spent now but this little Alpine Strawberry continues to give masses of small super sweet fruits. Not juicy like the big Strawberries but the flavour makes up for that.  It does’nt send out runners so all it’s energy goes into making fruits.

In the big polytunnel the Grapes are filling out nicely, should be a good crop by August. These are Black Hamburg, a dessert grape.

The first Tomato was ripe today from this hanging basket variety. Oh the smell! Delicious! The essence of Summer for me.

The first Courgette also presented itself today. Later than usual but most welcome. I suppose we will have a glut of them soon enough.

Peaches are starting to blush. Amazing how they are ripening really considering we had very little sunshine in June.

The plants in the little pond at the bottom of the polytunnel are doing well…Flowering Rush and Water Forget me Not planted last year have established nicely. The tadpoles are still there…no sign of them turning into Frogs yet!!

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After the storm.

In flowers, Garden, Ireland, sustainable living on June 9, 2012 at 9:51 am

At last the wind and rain have stopped. For two days we have had strong winds blowing in from the west accompanied by non stop rain. Apparently there has been a month’s rain in the last two days, that’s about 4 inches. The rivers, ditches and lakes are full to capacity and the waterfall, which is usually a Winter feature, is back on the mountain.

 In the garden the worst fatality was the Angelica. It had put on tremendous growth and was standing, rather magnificiently, at about 6 feet tall. It is however battered to the ground this morning. It will,  I’m sure,  rise again.

By the garden gate the Honeysuckle is coming into flower. I’m so glad this was’nt damaged as it has grown well. The scent is lovely and I really like the flowers. I grew this from a cutting.

Now is a very good time to start taking soft wood cuttings.Was watching Gardener’s World last night on the BBC, Carol Klien gave a good tutorial on how to do this. Carol is brill, I love her easy relaxed way of presenting and teaching.

In the micro-climate of the polytunnel all is well. Growth is rapid right now and everything is lush. Produce is in abundance, right now we are harvesting Lettuce, Spring Onions, Beetroot, Herbs and Spinach. Spinach goes to seed quickly but I sow some new every few weeks. There’s nothing to beat your own fresh Spinach. We also grow Swiss Chard which lasts a year before going to seed but proper Spinach is my fave. I love Nasturtiums in the polytunnel. They are of course edible, but they also attract beneficial insects which prey on nasties like greenfly.

These Nicotiana have come into flower in the last few days. Cosied up in a pot in the closed polytunnel, it was’nt opened for 3 days, has encouraged them to bloom. Thanks, whoever invented polytunnels. It certainly makes life easier, at 600 ft above sea level here, it would be impossible to grow fragile things without them.

Every available receptacle has been used to capture rainwater. The way our weather is changing, who knows, we could be back to drought conditions again next week!

Happy gardening!

Fave Pics from Summer 2011.

In Off the beaten track. on September 23, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Took this pic at Serpent’s Rock on the Sligo coast. There are several acres of limestone covered in fossils here, a fascinating spot. I think this one looks like a person wearing a headress.

In May we went to see Freda Kahlo’s paintings at the Museum of Modern Art in Kilmainham, Dublin. Nearby is the beautiful walled garden.

Early June saw a rare event this Summer, blue sky and sun. This pic was taken in our back field. There are a hundred young Ash trees planted here.

Ganesh, remover of obstacles, arrived around Summer Solstice time. A present from our friends Debra and Paul who live in Clare.

The end of June saw a new resident, Freddie, the new puppy. He is now happily ensconsed here and fits in well with our other 2 dogs. He will be a year old next month.

Nasturtiums, regardless of weather, they never fail to produce their jewel like flowers which of course are edible and elevate the appearance of a salad.

Driving back from Sligo I always like to stop by Lough Meelagh where this beautiful folly never ceases to fascinate. It was once part of the Kilronan estate.

A Gardener’s Rambling’s!

In Bees, Gardening, sustainable living on June 14, 2011 at 6:54 am

The polytunnel is getting to the stage I really like now, everything growing like crazy, plants merging into each other. Nasturtiums self-seed profusely here, I love their bright colours and the fact that they are edible. The Peach tree has put on lots of growth, I will prune it once or twice during the Summer. Summer pruning works for Peaches, Plums and Nectarines, Winter pruning can lead to silverleaf  and canker.

In the top orchard the Bees are happily working away. Andy checked them recently and the hives are good and healthy, no spare honey yet, the weather has just been too cold and wet. Hopefully the weather picks up and we will get some honey in late Summer. Our main priority is to have happy healthy bees.

Also in the top orchard we have been extending the mulched area. Up to now an area around each tree was mulched. Last week Andy strimmed the grass, we put down lots of newspapers and cardboard, then used the strimmings on top as mulch. When the weather gets better, (fingers crossed) we intend to plant this area with Pumpkins. They are already growing on in pots in the polytunnel. It’s just too cold at night for them so far. They can run rampant here and be pollinated by the Bees.

Foxgloves are in full flower now. I am often reminded of a picture of a painting I once saw in a book, of a gnome like being wearing a Foxglove flower as a hat. The painting was by Walter Thun, husband of Maria Thun who compiles the biodynamic calendar each year. I always have that in my mind’s eye as I gaze upon a Foxglove.

May flowers @ Prospect Cottage.

In Gardening on May 27, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Incarvillea, in flower at the moment, looks like something that should be a heated glasshouse. It is however completely hardy, it’s low growing habit protecting it from the recent winds.

 Yellow Flag Iris is just coming into flower right now. A native plant it grows well in water and wet soils. Lots of it growing wild on our laneway.

Geranium Johnson’s Blue flanked on either side by Alchemilla commonly known as Lady’s Mantle, an accidental combination brought about by self-seeders, I love it. In the polytunnel self-seeded Snapdragons provide a striking colour point.

Nasturtiums, one of my faves. Good for insect biodiversity, a good companion plant , leaves and flowers are edible. Sounds like the perfect plant!Thought the recent gales would have destroyed this one as it’s in a fairly exposed spot. It however, looks better than ever, Campion.

Companion planting @ Prospect Cottage.

In Gardening, sustainable living on April 27, 2011 at 10:49 am

Comfrey amongst fruit bushes.

Marigolds and Carrots.

Companion planting is the planting of mutually benificial plants in close proximity to each other with the result of deterring pests or attracting predators for any pests that may occcur. As well as being pleasing to the eye, as opposed to boring pest-inducing monoculture, it brings a more balanced eco-system into your garden. In essence, letting Nature take over.

Carrot fly seems to be a big problem in Ireland. The usual remedy is to put a 3-4 ft high barrier around the carrots, the reason being that the carrot fly does’nt fly higher than 3 ft. A more asthetically pleasing solution is to plant French Marigolds amongst your Carrots. Marigolds also exude a substance that kills nematodes and deters whitefly. Don’t plant them near Beans as the Beans won’t  do well.

Nasturtiums planted around fruit trees deter wooly aphids. They are said to improve the flavour and vigour of their neighbouring plants. They act as a deterrent for aphids and but also attract hoverflies who love to dine on greenfly. The also have the added bonuses of being attractive and edible. The leaves give a spiciness to salads and the flowers look amazing when strewn on top. Once you have them you’ll never have to plant again as they self-seed profusely. The seeds can also be pickled as a substitute for capers. I can’t vouch for this as I have’nt tried it myself.

Rhubarb is a good companion plant for all brassicas. A spray can be made from it’s leaves, they contain oxalic acid, to control blackspot on roses and as an aphid deterrent.

In bloom @ Prospect Cottage.

In Bees, Gardening, Herbs, sustainable living on April 9, 2011 at 8:22 am

Blossom covered Plum.

The main soundtrack in the garden yesterday was the sound of bees buzzing busily hither and thither. The Plum above is covered in blossom again this year, and the bees are ecstatic. So much has come into blossom in the last week, they are spoilt for choice.

Victoria is the varietyof Plum and it has done well since it started fruiting 5 years ago. Last year we had to prop all the branches they were so laden with plums. I thought it might have a slack year this year but it seems not. The main point to remember with Plums is not to prune in Winter as this can lead to silver leaf which is a fungal disease.

Nasturtium seedlings.

Planted up loads of self-seeded Nasturtiums in the cardboard centres of loo rolls. We save these throughout the year, they make great plant pots, being biodegradable they can go into the earth without disturbing the roots of plants. They are great for peas and beans as they can have a longer root run.

Dicentra spectablis is in full flower now. Very early this year, I’m sure it did’nt flower until May last year. It only seems a few weeks ago I posted pics of it just emerged from the earth. Check out Daphne in the top right hand corner!

Lamium.

Lamium or Dead Nettle as it is more often called also seems to be flowering early. This is a great plant for a shady post and creeps along by throwing out runners, much like strawberries. It is easily propogated from cuttings. Dislikes dry soil.

Alchemilla.

Many people regard Alchemilla (Lady’s Mantle) as a weed, it is a prolific self-seeder. I love it, especially how it holds the raindrops in it’s leaf. The word alchemy comes from this plant, because of the healing dew that would collect overnight in the leaves. These dewdrops were used in many mystic potions. In herbal lore it was mainly used for “women’s problems.”

Growing Flowers Naturally @ Prospect Cottage.

In Bees, Gardening, sustainable living on March 31, 2011 at 10:24 am

Galega.

Fruit and veg are not the only things we grow here in Arigna, flowers also have a large part to play. The flower is an essential part of every plant as it contains the reproductive organs without which the species could not continue. Sometimes this can be forgotten, we may look on flowers as nice colour shots in the garden.

Honeysuckle by garden gate.

Growing flowers naturally is easy if you accept them as they come, no tittivating and selection for the show bench. The biggest concession is to accept what does well in your area. For us this means no Dahlias, they don’t do well in our heavy soil, no Magnolias, they don’t like the winds we get here in the valley, no Bergamot, I don’t know why it does’nt do well here, several attempts have failed, I can cope with that.

Self-seeded Snapdragons in polytunnel.

What ever your soil type there are flowers that will love it. Gravel gardens, bog gardens, rock gardens, the possibilities are endless. The use of chemical fertilisers on flowers I find very sad, they don’t need it, they want to flower, it is their way of propogating themselves. People wonder why bees and other benificial insects are declining! Maybe that weekly dose od Miracle-Gro has something to do with it?

Verbena bonariensis does well on our ground.

The other great way to grow flowers is as companion plants for your fruit and veg. The right combinations can reduce attack from pests and disease.

Nasturtiums will repel aphids while Poached Egg  Flowers will attract hoverflies. The fave food of the hoverfly is aphids! Nasturtiums repel wooly aphids from fruit trees and chives will keep away fungal diseases. French Marigolds planted among your Tomatoes promote growth and repel harmful soil nematodes.

P.S: The plant in the last pic is of course Joe-Pye Weed not Verbena bonariensis.