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 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!
In Gardening, sustainable living on March 25, 2011 at 10:04 am
We awoke to another beautiful sunny morning here in Arigna. The heat is really building in the polytunnels and everything in there has really taken off. Lots of pricking out and potting on to do. All the outdoor fruit bushes have leafed up and fruit buds will be following soon. We will have to be vigilant for frosts, even a sheet of newspaper held on with clothes pegs is enough to keep off the frost at this time of year.
Strimming the rushes is another annual job to be done here. When we bought this place the rushes had’nt been cut for years and were about five feet tall. That first year our neighbour cut them with a tractor and mower, Andy now strims them once or twice a year and the difference is amazing. The rushes are’nt as strong growing and the cutting has given the grass a chance to come on. Three fields that were just full of rushes have now become fairly decent pasture.
So, what to do with all those rushes? They can be left in situ where they will rot down fairly quickly and provide some fertility. We collect them to use for mulch, particularly around the fruit trees and bushes. As you can see from the above pic above we have already started this years mulching. Now is a good time to mulch as the soil has warmed up and is still damp. Mulching conserves moisture, keeps down weeds and ultimately rots down thus improving soil structure and fertility. It also protects plants during the Winter reducing the effects of frost.