Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back to the Blog 2

The barrels are still producing carrots,Kathryn had some during the week also,I can't believe the amount of carrots they have produced this year and not a sign of carrot fly! More white turnips and giving the broccoli a liquid feed did produce more smaller florets. I discovered our broccoli is actually calabrese! Some runner beans from Liz in the next plot, Lauryn was delighted to be allowed to pick them off the plant.
The runner beans on the next plot provide a splash of colour as well as produce, Liz herself would not stand in to the photo!
Honey investigating as usual, Aaron is not too sure about being too close! Lauryn found my wellies and donned them, they are actually her great grandmothers! These were my own mother's and were in her shed when we were clearing out. They were one of the things I could not throw away so they are still in service on the allotment.
The peppers in the greenhouse, lots of baby ones coming on and we have picked some.
Aaron is not turning his back on Honey for the photo!

Back to the Blog

Well I am back to basics again. I spent most of the week in Robert's Cove not relaxing in the sunshine but treating all the decking before the winter sets in.We headed out to the allotment this morning.Kathryn and the girls had been holding the fort for the week, picking anything that was ready and keeping an eye on the greenhouse.Lauryn and Aaron, (two more of my grandchildren) came along to help out.
Lauryn took charge of the hose, it was one of the few sunny, dry mornings we had but just in case everything was getting watered!
Aaron determined to get every last drop of water out of the watering can.
Aaron making sure Lauryn fills the watering can to the brim.
He did not miss out on the greenhouse either.

Monday, August 25, 2008

While surfing last night, I found this brilliant Irish web site. It is questions and answers from other Irish gardeners and the site admin will answer questions as it is run by a horticulturalist. It is not just about veg growing but all aspects of trying to garden in our current Irish weather. I made a note to self some time ago to check out blight resistant pops for next year, well I found an excellent article on this site and will be going back when the time comes for buying seed potatoes as they give the names of ones to avoid, guess what....I had all the ones they advised to avoid!
Well worth a visit and bookmarking for future reference. I have put a link at the side for it too.
Another interesting site I found from there is Irish potato suppliers, link at side also.They supply seed potatoes and the organic varieties which are blight resistant. Another one to bookmark.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

fresh air, fresh veg

I had no intention of going out to the allotment today due to the weather but by mid afternoon I wanted some fresh air and thought the plants in the greenhouse would need some water,so took myself off out.The greenhouse yielded 2 green peppers ( to give the others on the plant some space), 4 red tomatoes and I tidied up the plants removing dead or yellowing leaves. More carrots from the barrels and still more to come. The white turnips are giving a great return, next year we will do successive sowings from march to June to have a continuous supply of them as everyone loves the taste! A new addition to the harvest is the baby beetroots.

Our scarecrow standing stoically despite wind and rain, looking a bit faded but still doing his duty.

The leeks are growing, still in their holes, but they must be earthed up from Sept on.

A close up of the monster developing under the foliage of the pumpkins on the bank of horse manure!

Green manure

Well back to basics. The weather today is wet and grey at the moment, so no gardening. Susan Taylor, (see motivation and education post) also discussed green manure and how beneficial it is to keep down weeds and feed nutrients back into the ground. It can be over wintered on a plot or put on a space that you do not intend putting something in for a while.
There are various types grown over winter and dug back into the ground around February. I liked this one in the photo called Phacelia which can be allowed to flower and left on any patch of ground until you need that space, with the added benefit of flowers.
I copied this photo from Irish Seed Savers Assoc, as it was the only one I could find. The seeds can be bought online from them as well.
Irish Seed Savers have an excellent article on Potatoes, the names, a description and history.It is well worth looking at before buying seed potatoes for next year, as they also give details of blight resistant varieties and seed potatoes can be bought from them at the start of the year.Delivered to your door, the way to go!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Moon Planting

The moon icon on the side bar shows the different moon phases. There is a growing interest in planting by the phases of the moon. The waxing and waning of the moon affects the tides and more and more people are convinced that by using this knowledge, that there are certain times in the moon cycle when planting or not has an effect on the growth and harvest of their produce.I saw a moon chart on scarecrows garden blog (see links on side) and left a comment about it.She very kindly did a whole post in reply, and has put it on her side link so the information is easily accessible. The instructions for downloading the Moon icon are also on there.
The time shown is the same for the northern hemisphere but the moon seems to be seen from the opposite side, I'm not an astronomer!
I would think the planting information would be the same (have a look). Bearing in mind we are going into Winter and they are planting seeds for Spring!
If anyone has anymore information in relation to this side of the world,please pass it on .

Thursday, August 21, 2008

West Cork

Now for something completely different but very relevant to my love of nature and my country.This morning it was actually summer....well the sun was playing peekaboo with the clouds but it was warm and the countryside looked green and beautifull. I had to go to west Cork on business and traversed a triangle from Clonakily to Macroom. I had never taken this particular route before and I must say the scenery is wild and breathtaking. The heather is in bloom covering the rocks and hillsides, my camera does not do justice to the purple haze on both sides of the road. This is on the R578 from Dunmanway to Macroom. So if you ever see that sign ...take it!!!

This is another view of the heather covering the crevices in the rocks

Natures bounty growing freely along the ditches.Sadly the terrible weather we have been having may affect them. I remember as a child spending late summer days picking 'blackas'. Groups of us would be gone for hours and no body had to wonder where we were or if we were safe, the general consensus was we would come home when we got too hungry!

Our mothers made jam that was devoured almost as soon as it was made. When my own children were growing up they hated Sundays spent picking blackberries but loved the finished product as they still do!

A beergarden to die for! This is a country pub on the side of the road just a little further along the road, between Dunmanway and Macroom. This is the back view of it , the front is also covered in flowers. The photo does not give the sound of rushing water as I think there is a wier under or near the bridge.At this side the water is so still the pub is reflected perfectly in the water and fish were jumping!

Macroom is a very busy country town which we usually drive through on the way to somewhere west.I normally try to park on the main street if I have to stop,but this morning the town was busy and I had to look for parking elsewhere and saw the town from a completely different angle.

I knew the castle was there and this narrow bridge that is usually choked with traffic,and never gets a second glance as I pass over it.

It is actually a ten arch stone bridge with a weir nearby.The photo shows the back of the castle with as many arches as I could fit in the photo.

So the moral for today is, dont always take the motorway or the most direct route, stop and enjoy the colours and beauty that is Ireland. As someone aptly remarked it would be a great little country if we could put a roof on it!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Motivation and Education

Zwena, our allotment owner and motivator arranged for Susan Taylor to visit us, give a talk and have a look at our plots.
The photo shows most of us gathered around what was a table of home made goodies provided by Zwena. At the end of the talk I don't think even crumbs were left!
Susan is originally from South Africa and has an impressive pedigree in horticulture.She married an Irish man and so ended up on our wet and windy Isle!
In Ireland she teaches and has worked in the famous Ballymaloe gardens and is also involved in the restoration of the walled vegetable gardens in Blarney Castle .
Susan is so enthusiastic and knowledgeable on all aspects of organic gardening the time flew by. She even made composting and slug eradication interesting!
I wont even try to cover all the topics she covered in this post but will add them in future posts, as they become topical. Susan brought a number of interesting books and catalogues for us, also some equally interesting websites, some of which I have added links to at the side. I would have to make special mention of Irish Seed Savers, its a charitable trust, of which I was unaware. The web site is well worth a browse.
Susan was able to tell me what had decimated our gooseberries, it is aptly called the sword fly. It can strip a bush in one weekend,I can vouch for that! Summer pruning may have helped by opening up the centre of the bushes and in doing so I would have noticed the first tell tale signs of blackening on the leaves, opening up the centre of the bush also impedes the spread of powdery mildew.
Susan recommends pruning twice a year, in summer back to 5 leaves from the main stem and in the winter back to 2 leaves.
For newbies to blogging like myself...double click on the names in coloured italics, a little light bulb pops up, click on it and it takes you to the web pages for the relevant name. There is another way of doing it but I have not figured it out yet!!

Between the Showers

22/08/2008. Carrot update: carrots growing divided into fingers instead of one straight root can be caused by using too fresh manure in the bed.
Kevin with white turnips and carrots from the barrels. The one on the left is producing small fat ones and the one on the right lovely long straight ones! The first barrel was waterlogged for a time due to the heavy downpours of rain until Ed drilled holes in the end. Both barrels were planted with seeds from the same packet.

Our harvest for today! white turnips, carrots, 2 cucumbers from the greenhouse,3 small tomatoes (we ate some tiny red ones while we were there). Swiss chard, which grew free gratis, one of the benefits of previous tenants on an allotment! I pulled out the rhubarb as it was covering the cauliflower which is in the same bed, this is the second flush so I hope it will be OK. The plant to the left is a broad bean which Kevin wanted to take home, I think he is hoping for a magic beanstalk!

Kevin, kitted out for a summer's day on the allotment!

Our pumpkin which is approx. 23 ins in diameter! I say approx as I was afraid to move it too much as it is still the only one surviving.

A long view up the allotment,showing Liam's Sunflower which Kevin thinks is 'Cool' and wants us to grow lots of them next year! Also his gladioli are thriving around the perimeter.

Yes, I did remember to earth up the celery!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Surfing the net

It has been another really wet miserable day here in southern Ireland, only surfing possible is on the net ( the only one I would be engaged in anyway)!
I tried to find other allotment/food growers blogging in Ireland but either I can't find them or they are a very secretive lot who do not want people to read their blogs?!
On I did find a lady in Mullingar blogging as an urban gardener, link at sidebar to and who has been online for quite a while. It will be usefull to have someone who has the same lousy weather to contend with as us!
Also on irish allotments are photos of the hydro allotments as they visited us one rainy wet day, but the photos look colourful and sunny ( it must have been a trick camera Julian!).
I also found a site which seems to be getting great reviews for online garden planning at .
Also by surfing around I discovered I should be earthing up the Celery!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Photo Gallery

I am really going in to overdrive posting today! This is an important extra. My daughter Linda has started a photo blog after a lot of persuasion. She has been taking photos for ages and leaving them in the computer so now we will all get to see them.

There is a link at the side to go to the blog site, To whet the appetite I am uploading one of them ( yes that sunny photo was taken in Ireland LAST year) which I have on my computer and has one on the homepage too.

Good and bad and curious

Today's harvest, white turnips, carrots, 3 tomatoes and the tiny potatoes are from our main crop of Kerr's Pinks pops. I know they should not be lifted until September but these are the ones that were sprayed for blight and as a last resort the stalks were cut down to prevent the blight from travelling down to the tubers. I could not wait until Sept, my curiosity got the better of me so I dug out one just to see if they were OK and they are! Thank you Bluestone and of course Zwena for the advice!

Teasel heads, beautiful but prickly!

I wondered what these enormous plants were, they are in an overgrown patch at the side of the communal greenhouse. I found out they are Teasels. The heads were dried and used to lift the pile on fabric and were used in the textile industry long ago,or dried and used by florists and are often seen in dried flower arrangements at Christmas sprayed silver!

This gives some idea of the damage done to the gooseberry bushes. The leaves have been stripped bare and these remaining few are curled and brown. I opened one curled leaf and a small green pest fell out, it was like a miniature caterpillar! I have been told they are actually sawfly which can decimate a bush in one weekend!They have now been dug out and consigned to the dump as I noticed some holes in the leaves of the blackcurrant bush next to it. I think we planted the fruit bushes too close together, very easy to do when they are small! When digging out the bushes I was surprised at the length of some of the roots after only 2 years. I also dug out the remaining strawberry plants so the bed is now clear apart from the raspberry canes and blueberry bushes.
We will give the whole bed a good mulch of horse manure for the winter and move these remaining bushes to give them more space next year. Great Plans!
Some, actually most of our tomato crop in the greenhouse, these are a good size and just starting to turn red. There is a smaller tomato to the side and we have already had a few from that.

The afternoon turned out sunny and warm if a bit windy so Ed and myself took ourselves down to B&Q to get some treated timber to make a frame for the asparagus bed. It is going to be a permanent bed for the next few years so I think it needs some protection. Daughter Linda and her two boys brought back the first consignment of seaweed from the beach, it is a winter mulch for the asparagus. This is Ed using the very technical method of measuring by pacing the length!

20 minutes of sunshine!

This is a view down the plot, we have straightened the paths and gained extra ground! In the foreground to the left are our two gooseberry bushes. They have been stripped of all foliage by some bug or pest. I thought they were just dropping leaves after fruiting but Zwena had a look at them one day and said they were being eaten! Any few remaining leaves were curled and seemed to have black eggs or something? in them. I think I will just dig them out altogether and consign them to the dump.
Behind them to the left are a late sowing of peas which are flowering and behind them are an equally late sowing of broad beans. we are hoping for an Indian summer ! As soon as the schools reopen it is Sod's law the weather will improve.

Sinead and Aoife picking the last of the blackcurrants.The photo seems to be the perfect snapshot of summer? It was actually about a twenty minute break in the clouds and thundershowers! We only have one blackcurrant bush and have had lots of fruit considering the bad weather, but it did not all ripen together. So I have been picking and freezing them and will make jam when they are all done.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

August update

Our first carrots from the barrel, lovely straight unmarked ones too and they smell heavenly! The white turnips were put in as seed on 16th June on Donal Kelleher's advice. He said we would have a crop in 10 weeks and we have, there are lots more so they will keep us going for a while. One cucumber in there too, they are a bit slow to come on but we have not been having any great heat. A neat harvest to take home!

Our first Cauliflower! OK, so its like a little table tennis ball but it is still there! These were 10 plants which I bought in a tray and planted out, I must go back and check the date. (Update, They were put in on 30th may)

This photo does not do the broccoli seed flowers any justice, they are a lovely yellow colour. At least they were before I cut them off! I cleaned all the bed and got rid of any dead leaves. On scarecrows garden blog, she says a liquid feed helps to bring on a second lot of florets on the plants. I did not have liquid feed but did cover the bed with well rotted horse manure. Before we left the allotment it was being turned in to liquid feed by a downpour of rain! We will just wait and see if we get a second helping, if not they can all go on the compost heap and the ground will have got some nourishment for next year!!

The largest of the pepper plants in the greenhouse. I wonder if we leave them on the plant do they turn red, or are red peppers a different plant??

Liam's sunflower is now about 8ft high and still growing!

The bees enjoying gathering pollen from the sunflower

I could not decide between the photos so I have put up both of them! Sunflowers are so cheerful they just bring a smile to everyone's face as soon as they see them!

Our one and only pumpkin! It is getting quite large and the next time I go out to the allotment I must remember to take a measuring tape. There is one other tiny fruit at the end of the plant but they just seem to disappear?! Will the birds or slugs take a fancy to it maybe we should put some kind of protection over it? The leaves are quite hairy and coarse and should deter the slugs I hope.

The Triffids are advancing down the bank! After the rain and heat of the last couple of weeks the pumpkins on the bank are running amok. There are lots of blossoms but I have not climbed up to see if there is any fruit on them yet, it is after all a pile of horse manure!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bits & Bobs 2

We are in the middle of the wettest summer in living memory here in Ireland. Some areas have had a months rain in a few hours and fields of ripening wheat have been destroyed . The Met office is not giving much if any encouragement that it will improve anytime soon.

We had not been to the allotment for a few days but I went out this morning to check on things in the greenhouse, to water and feed them. I had 4 red tomatoes and the peppers and cucumbers are growing too.

Our pumpkin is doing great being ignored and left to its own devices!The pumpkins on the bank are taking over, I have never seen anything grow so much in a few days! Of course I did not take the camera as the weather was so bad. I have some I had taken earlier but did not have time to put up and the sun was shining as well!

Whatcha ' doin? Honey comes over every now and again to see what we are up to. OR maybe she is checking out our carrots growing in the blue barrels to see if they are ready yet?! Why did I put them right there??

No these are not green tomatoes! They are a curious growth on Rosie's potatoes, they have not affected the tubers underneath but we are wondering what they are and if anyone can shed any light on them?

Our onion crop which we had the good fortune to lift for drying just before the monsoon season started! On a quick count there are about 80 onions which were sown from sets, which are now drying in my shed until I figure out how to plait them or get enough old tights to hang them in.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Farm blogs around the world.

I have a new link to a site called It has been set up by Ian Walthew to gather links to farm blogs around the world. It is not just about farms as Ian is of the opinion that anyone who grows food is by definition a farmer!
There are interesting links to allotments and farms around the globe, well worth a visit or two or even ten!!
My blog was recommended by Lynda on food fun & farmlife in East Africa (see links), this is how the list grows! I make contact with Ian and make my recommendations and so on.
At present I am the only Irish link so hopefully there are more out there who will log on and make contact with Ian.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Bits and Bobs 1

It is hard to see the broccoli here but we have some good size heads, and they taste devine! We thought they were brussels sprouts ( see master plan at end of page) until the florets appeared, but who is complaining?!
The strawberry runners being pegged into pots for growing on. Our strawberry plants were growing around the plot when we took it over, We moved them in to this bed, but have since discovered they have an optimum life span of 3 years. We will start a completely new bed next year and then we will know exactly how old the plants are. I just put the new plant into the compost in the pot, leaving it still attached to the parent plant. I placed a stone on the plant to hold it in position while it takes root.
The new strawberry plants are growing in the pots and will be left in them over the winter ( I think). Once they were growing strongly I cut them from the parent plant.

The Leeks have now been transplanted into a permanent bed as per advice on Dave's allotment blog. I made holes with a spade handle and watered them in. The first few were a bit fiddly and disappeared down the holes! Then I dropped them into the hole and held on to the plant at the correct height and filled the hole with water. About half of the leek is in the hole to help them blanch and the hole is not filled in to give the leek room to grow.
Our pumpkin, this photo was taken a few days ago,I just did not have time to upload them.It is now a decent sized tennis ball size!

The white turnips planted on 16th June, on the advice of Donal Kelleher at our open day. I scraped away some of the earth and there are turnips under there alright, golf ball size at the moment.

The largest of the pepper plants in the greenhouse. I have pinched off some of the flowers, to give the plant a chance to grow the ones already on it. For some reason we have about 8 plants ( are we that fond of peppers?)and gave some away as well!