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!!
In Garden, sustainable living on March 5, 2012 at 7:14 pm
Everything is greening up again, the dull tones of Winter are slowly being replaced by fresh greenery. Trees are about to burst forth and change the tone of the landscape from Winter hibernation to Spring exuberance. We are 600 ft above sea level here in the valley so it will come a little later here. Anticipation!
As evening falls after a lovely sunny day it is cold. The Met Office say it will be frosty tonight.
Working outdoors is such a joy on days like today. I spent the afternoon bringing farmyard manure from the pile which has been rotting down nicely for over a year, into the polytunnel and digging it into the beds. We don’t dig very deeply here, the daub can be as much as only 6 inches below the topsoil. Deep digging would just be bringing up daub which just dries into really hard lumps, like stone. After being brought up on good Tipperary land I got a bit of a shock the first day I stuck a spade into heavy, wet Roscommon soil! Outdoors we have a large mulched area which is never dug, just mulched each year when the soil warms up. There are also raised beds which are topped up with garden compost or manure every year.
Through the Birch trees, though darkness has not yet fallen the waxing Moon is visible. Full Moon is on Wednesday so the coming days are busy with planting. Sowing and planting by the Moon is an old tradition from when people had more of an awareness of the planets and their affect on humans, animal and plant life. It is adhered to by people who practise Bio Dynamic gardening. We do not use BD systems here as they are not compatible with a vegetarian lifestyle but we do use Moon planting. The days leading up to full Moon are when leaf crops are planted. Tomorrow I shall plant Spinach, Rocket and Lettuce. Wednesday is a fruit day. This is when plants that bear their seeds within the fruits. Tomatoes, Peas, Beans, Cucumber and Squashes come within this realm. After full Moon is the time to plant root crops, Carrots, Parsnips, Beetroot and Potatoes belong to those days. I have noticed on previous years that seeds sown according to this system do seem to germinate quicker. It is also said that they are less susceptible to disease. For us it is a good way to break up the work at this time. With so much to be planted it gives a bit of direction on what to plant on given days. So for the next few days its busy, busy, busy!
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!
In sustainable living on November 13, 2011 at 5:49 pm
This morning we decided to drive down to Lough Allen, which is about 5 miles away, and have a walk on the pebbled foreshore as we often do. However it was not to be as the lake was further in than usual at this time of year. I think the good weather of the last couple of weeks had made us forget all the rain that preceded it. The pathway was not to be seen, completely covered with water.
It’s challenging farming here, this is nearby farmland completely flooded. This land will not be usable again until next Spring. Our old house and land came right down to the lake about quarter of a mile further on from here.
Our next stop was an old cottage that is for sale. Regular readers will know of my liking for poking around old places, I just love it! This one still has the crane over the fireplace where the kettle or pot used to hang in bygone years. There would be a hook hanging down nearer the flame on which to hang your vessel. I bet many a good meal was cooked here.
It’s been a while since the bed was slept in! Even I have to work hard to see potential in this one. Surrounded by Sitka Spruce forest and up a very long lane with a gate half up which must be kept closed, I don’t thing this one will sell in a hurry!
Back home by 2.45. The wine, made from the last of the grapes is bubbling away.
Soon the stove is fired up and throwing out welcome warmth. Quick coffee and then the house is filled with the scent of Summer…
Strawberry jam cooked and potted up.
Then to the polytunnel to get some salad to go with the rice and dhal we are having for dinner. Yes, we still have Nasturtiums in flower. The frosts so far have been very mild. So that’s it, another lazy Sunday ends!
In Gardening, Off the beaten track. on July 16, 2011 at 6:50 pm
The garden has been developing over the last 11 years and is now maturing beautifully. There are 2 large ponds.
Beautiful established herbaceous border leading to a lower level seating area and barbecue.
The large polytunnel has a jungle feel, it is filled with a mix of edibles and ornamentals.
One of Saffron’s beautiful sculptures enchances this mixed border.
This lovely piece was also carved by Saffron.
Heading back to the house through the garden.
The next open day is on August 21st or visits can be made by prior arrangement, ring Saffron on 086 8691141.
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.
In arigna, Gardening, sustainable living on May 31, 2011 at 2:17 pm
At last the weather seems to be changing again. The strong winds have abated and rain showers are less frequent. From tomorrow, June 1st, the temperatures are set to increase and lots of sunshine is promised.
Birch is one of my favourite trees. I love how it’s graceful branches and sparse foliage allow the light through creating dappled shade beneath. The one which grows outside our back door has a different habit to the other Birches on our land. They usually grow very straight but this one has a weeping habit. Beautiful.
The leaves of Birch are diutetic, antiseptic and a tonic, an effective remedy for cystitis and other infections of the urinary system, cleansing the body by removing excess water.
In the polytunnels there is an abundance of produce, salad crops, Spring Onions, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Beetroot plus lots of herbs and edible flowers. I get tremendous joy from harvesting ingredients for our meals each day. The same joy is not to be had from browsing the supermarket shelves, especially as most of the produce is now from far off lands. Keeping the air miles low here in Arigna.
Delighted that Apples have set on this tree, Mrs. Perry, this is it’s first year to set fruit. The fruit is said to be dual-purpose, holding on the tree up to November. Don’t think these will last that long!
Looks like we will have Tayberries this year, this cross between Raspberry and Blackberry is delicious. It is easy to grow, we have it trailing along the fence. The fruit ripens from mid-July .
In arigna, Gardening on May 24, 2011 at 4:26 pm
Hi all, due to computer problems, hard drive I think, we have’nt been able to upload photos for a few days now. Hopefully all will be rectified in the next few days. So, an update since last post. On Sunday we went to Dublin to see the exhibition of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo’s paintings at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Have been a fan of Frida’s images since I saw them in a book some years ago. There were also fab paintings by Frida’s husband Diego Rivera. They both had a unique style. Her self portraits are particularly captivating. Looking into the eyes of someone who died (1954) before one was born is a bit odd. She was an incredibly beautiful woman with a unique dress sense. The exhibition is on until June 26th. There is also a very nice formal garden open to the public, no cost. We took loads of lovely garden pics but they have to wait until a future date.
There was also an exhibition of works by Romuald Hazoume from the Republic of Benin. Found objects, photography, sound, video, installation and painting are all included in his work. This exhibition was meant to finish on the 15th May but was still running last Sunday 22nd. I particularly liked his found objects sculptures, the fave being a set of musical instruments made from plastic gerry cans.
Here at home we are fed up with this weather. Don’t mind the rain so much but I really hate this wind. We were lucky not to have any damage from yesterday’s storm. The polytunnels stayed closed all day as the gusts were really strong. Today is calmer so the tunnels were opened and some work done. Potted on Basil, Peppers and Chillies. Harvested salad for dinner and watered everything then closed tunnels again as there were some strong gusts of wind. Crazy crazy May weather! Hope it improves soon.
Still no joy on uploading pics. Andy is giving up on trying to sort it out and is taking computer to local hi-tech witch doctor today!! Fingers crossed all well be well. What will we do without Twitter etc!! I jest! Will have to do a bit of gardening or something. That could be a problem considering the weather here today. Wind and rain that would do justice to a January day. Ah well, what can we do. Maybe built a giant polytunnel over Ireland. The local weater gurus say that June and July are to be crap. August to bring tempuratures of over 30c! The question is can we handle 2 months of this? The people will be suffering with Summer SAD.
I guess the bubble of euphoria that engulfed the country for the past week was broken for many people last night when O’Bama was heard to declare his English heritage on his Mother’s side. Is this guy for real? Does he think England and Ireland are still one? Does he not know we are proud to be REPUBLIC OF IRELAND. Did he not see the sea that divides the two countries? Geography and history lessons please Mr. O’Bama!!
In Gardening, sustainable living on May 2, 2011 at 11:37 am
We went to the local car boot sale in Carrick-on-Shannon yesterday morning, as we often do. It is on every Sunday morning with a good range of stalls. Lots of bric-a-brac, books, plants and even furniture can be found. I bought 3 plants, Solomon’s Seal, a Polygonum with pink flower and a Lysmachia with a variegated leaf which I had’nt seen previously, all for 10 euros. Bargain! My guess these would be 6.99 each at any garden centre. The sellers were all locals who had propogated these plants themselves so the plants are already acclimatised to the local area, no hothouse specimens from foreign lands. By evening they were planted in the new mulched bed we have just made in the fruit garden. The area was grass, it was first mulched with newspaper and cardboard, then planted and given a good thick mulch with rushes.
Also at the car boot we got this small table, I was looking for a table for this little sitting area and this one was ideal. It is a nice heavy one and at a tenner was a good deal. I like the colour so it does’nt even need painting. The seat in the pic I am proud to say I made myself at a woodwork class about 5 years ago. The Willow plant holder was locally made and Andy did the decking. A completely local production!
In the polytunnel growth is phenomenal at the moment. It seems like overnight that full heads of Lettuce have grown from tiny plants, Spinach planted only a few weeks ago is ready for picking. These Strawberries will soon be giving fruit. The pots were outdoors until now. By bringing them into the heat of the polytunnel they will fruit quicker. Strawberries are also planted in the beds in the polytunnels.
In arigna, Gardening, sustainable living on March 17, 2011 at 11:11 pm
Spring has arrived here in Arigna. Lots of growth on everything fills me with anticipation of the abundance of Summer. Despite the hard frosts of Winter we have lost very few plants.
Fevruary Orchid with Kale behind.
In the polytunnel the Winter salads have started to grow again. We even have edible flowers from the February Orchid, actually the whole plant is edible.Its botanical name is Orychophragmus violaceus and it is’nt an orchid at all but a brassica which is native to China. Sown in Summer and Autumn it provides mild but tasty leaves in the Spring. It has been providing leaves and flowers, always welcome at this time, since the first week in February.