Monday, September 29, 2008

Winter onions/garlic

I went out to the allotment yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, all alone, meaning to potter for an hour or so. That was at 1.30pm and I left at 6.30 pm! Other allotmenteers arrived and went until I was the only one left.

I dug out the remainder of the main crop potatoes..Kerr's pinks, they were blight free but very small. When we cut down the foliage to prevent the blight from going down to the tubers, they obviously were not developed enough.I think that would only be beneficial if they are fully grown, and can be left in the ground until needed.Next year we are only going to put in first and second earlies, as main crop take up too much space for too long, which we do not have.

Scarecrow may have thought he was taking it easy for the winter months but now he has garlic at the far end and onions to the foreground to keep the birds off of for the coming months. I was just going to dig up the pops, then I carried on and dug up the whole bed. After the tea break I thought I may as well plant everything out and be done with it. The nice straight lines are the marks of the plank I used to form the rows and not compact the soil too much by walking on it. I did not check if it was a root crop day or if it was the correct moon phase for planting as it is the only day I could spend a lot of time out there this week! I did not check if it was the correct sequence for follow on planting either, onions,leeks and carrots ( it causes forking in carrots) should only be planted in ground which does not have fresh manure as they do not like animal manure and are ideally suited to using garden compost. This bed was manured last year for the potatoes and has had nothing added since.

We will just have to wait and see.

To the right of the photo is the purple sprouting broccoli in its netting. they are coming on OK after a slow start, these were the ones we started in, and planted out in the newspaper pots, (see post for 9th July, Dave's advice ) If anyone can tell me how to link one post with another, please do leave a comment!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Autumn Sunshine

Slim pickings from the allotment yesterday, the broccoli is still producing some small side shoots. The strange looking white floret is a cauliflower! Of the six plants , two have produced these strange shapes but they taste OK. 3 tomatoes and there are still lots more but they are slow to redden. I picked some of the peas too, not very big but I used them whole as mange tout. Everything was used in a lovely vegetable risotto!

The cucumber plants have taken on a new lease of life in the greenhouse,While the leaves on the end of the plants have turned yellow, the tops have put on a new spurt and there are about 3 or 4 on each of the three plants.The peppers are in the background but the sun has burned some of them, I turned them so that their leaves will hopefully protect them.

A closer up of the cucumbers

Our pumpkin has finally started turning yellow! We were beginning to wonder if it actually was a pumpkin. It is only now that it is getting some sunshine to ripen I suppose.

An update on the monster lurking on the compost ( horse Manure) heap! It is huge and the second one is nearly as big. There are lots of smaller ones too.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Blackberry jam

We had a disastrous summer in Ireland this year but guess what ,we are having a beautifull Autumn! On Sunday while the All Ireland football final was being played, Ed watched on TV and my chief gardener Kevin and I went out picking blackberries. We were down in Robert's Cove and walked about 2 miles while picking. It was a beautifull sunny afternoon and it was a lovely way to spend it. Kevin did a great job of picking until he found some long branches left on the ground, one then became his staff and he was on a survival mission! Eating blackberries was his main survival food!!
There were a lot of berries out but it was a shame to see all the lovely big ones rotting on the bushes after all the rain we have had.I picked about 3 lbs and with 4 cooking apples and 3 lbs of sugar made about 7 lbs of jam. That works out roughly 40 cent a pot of jam, and you cannot buy the taste of fresh blackberries!!

Sam my cavalier king charles dozing on the warm gravel out the back of the house

He could not keep his eyes open any longer!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I have not had time to blog for a few days, I paid a quick visit to the allotment yesterday and brought home 7 nice red tomatoes from the greenhouse. Things are slowing down now as we go into Autumn.I did not have my camera with me but may get out later today.Yesterday we woke to heavy fog which cleared to a beautifull sunny day. This morning was the same but when I went outside I found cobwebs everywhere!They were like crazy bunting from tree to tree,even from the clothes line to the hedge,a distance of about 8 feet!
This is one on my contorted hazel in the front garden.

They were not small either, but layer on layer of fine detail

This one is joining two fuschia bushes

A classic cobweb

The leylandii in the back garden were covered with cobwebs! I did not think my camera was good enough to capture such fine detail ,so I was pleasantly surprised to get reasonably good photos of them.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hurricane Ike

I watched on TV , the devastation caused by Ike in the southern states and said a prayer that none of my blogging friends or their families were affected by it.

Still Cropping

The produce is slowing a little as we head in to Autumn.The end of the carrots from the barrels, these are from the first barrel which stayed small as they dried out first from lack of water and then this particular barrel got waterlogged! They have a growth of fine white 'strings' on them but when this is scrubbed off they taste fine. 4 Tomatoes, about 260 grms of broccoli (calabrese), these are the side shoots after giving the plants a liquid feed after the main head was cut. Lots of beetroot as I pulled some to give the brussels sprouts room to grow.Anyone with ideas on how to pickle beetroot please tell us!

The one cauliflower grew in to this strange shape? There are 2 more tiny golfball heads coming on, I just cut the top off of this one and added it to the compost heap.

The brussels sprouts are forming well, this is the biggest of 5 plants. Again we planted them too close together, I have never actually seen brussels sprouts growing on the plant until now!

These are the rows of parsnips and beetroot after being weeded. I also thinned out the beetroot and I do not do 'before' photos! I cleaned up around the sprouts and removed all the yellowing leaves and also any that were too near the ground, why provide a spring board for the slugs and snails.One plant had about 10 caterpillers and small snails which I picked off and blasted the leaves with the hose.
At the end of the row you can see the Brussels sprouts in their new high rise netting, as they were too confined in the previous one. I had to pull one or two of the parsnips from beside the sprouts and they are about 14 ins long but finger thick!

Friday, September 12, 2008


While browsing through 'The Allotment Keeper's Handbook' I found that our blueberries were really acid loving plants. We had been blaming the birds for our lack of fruit! While on the website I found a thread about Blueberries and posted a query. I got a wealth of information and sites to link to about blueberries. Too long to post here, so if anyone has problems or wants to grow them I would advise logging on to the site.I also poached the photo as our blueberries never looked like this! In Ireland 'Hurts' were picked on mountains in the past.These were small blue berries, but Pine trees have been planted for the last number of years and a lot of our native trees and undergrowth have disappeared under this dark green blanket.I suppose it was a way to make unproductive mountain land to pay but I think people are only now realising the damage this forestation has caused to our native plants and wildlife. Blueberries are a relative of our long forgotten Hurts!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Weird & Wonderfull

A strange tree, indigenous to the Hydro allotments? No, this tree is in Christy's plot, I think it is dead as the foliage is actually ivy growing up the tree. Christy has been using it to hang up his different varieties of onions to dry on. It looks a bit like something from a child's fairytale!

112/9/2008 Tree update.
When I was out in the allotment this morning I stood back and looked up at the tree. It is about 15ft high and is not dead as I had thought, it is a pear tree, with some sparse foliage towards the very top. There are 2 daredevil pears hanging on for dear life to the very top branch of the tree!! It is probably there since the allotment area was a walled orchard many years ago

We have twins growing on the manure heap!The one on the left is just visible peeking out from the leaves.They are the biggest of the pumpkins, but there are lots of smaller ones too.I should have taken a photo of the whole lot ,they are heading for the gate, I have never seen anything to grow so prolifically!

Our pumpkin on the plot is very lonely looking, but it is growing day by day.I raised it on to a flat stone to keep it up off of the ground. The leaves are going yellow and it has not produced another fruit that has developed? A cosseted only child?!

For new information on our allotment click in to Irish Allotments on the side link.Some great events to look forward to.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Quick Visit

This morning I thought I would pay a quick visit to the allotment, just to check on the greenhouse and see what could be brought home.That was at 10.30 am and I left at 2.00pm! The allotment is like a time warp, I just potter away for what seems like an hour and 3 have passed.The harvest for today, I dug up a drill of pops, Kerr's Pinks which had been sprayed against blight, the foliage cut down and left in tubers in the ground.The potatoes were small with no sign of blight but the return on about 6 stalks is not good. the last of the white turnips, I cleared one of the barrels of carrots, about 8 baby ones.A courgette from the plant that did nothing in the greenhouse but recovered when I put it outside,and there is another courgette coming on the plant as well.

The tomatoes in the greenhouse, they are a good size but not too many of them.I took 8 nice red ones today and the same last week. The cucumber was also taken home today, the plants are going very yellow but there are some small cucumbers coming on as well. Fed them and watered them.

The celery earthed up again.There seems to be lots of leaves I hope that means lots of nice stalks too!

The leeks have been earthed up for the first time today. Some have put on quite good growth and a few are smaller. Only time will tell.

I had to cover the peas and beans with netting as something (the rabbits, I think) had eaten a few, about 10 half eaten ones were hanging on the plants. There is not enough for them and us!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

My Bookshelf for Winter

I browsed through Amazon last week and ordered these, my winter reading material. They have been dropping through my letter box all week.I did not buy the new copies just all second hand but they arrived as new anyway.

Left to right:

The Allotment Handbook; Caroline Bradley,

All of the allotment information applies to the UK but there is a month by month section of what to plant and jobs to do, there is also a comprehensive plant directory.

The Biodynamic sowing and planting Calender; Maria Thun,

On first glance through it, it seems a bit technical but does have a calender for the year on which days to plant/harvest, Roots,leaf, fruit and flower. ie;onions,beetroot,carrots and potatoes are best harvested on root days and they will keep throughout the winter.

The Allotment Keeper's Handbook : Jane Perrone, Easy to read ,practical, again a monthly to do list, crop rotation, watering,and composting. Jane has an allotment for years and admits her own mistakes over the years so you know when she gives advice it has been learned the hard way!

The Organic Gardening Catalogue; I have finally gotten a seed catalogue to browse through and plan for next year! One thing that struck me on reading this was, I did not have a clue of the names of the varieties of anything we have sown this year so cannot discuss the merits or otherwise of any variety we have! This catalogue has a nifty build a ball system for making frames and structures for netting or fleece to protect crops. This one was free, just log on to for information and it arrives in the post a couple of days later

Carrots Love Tomatoes;Louise Riotte, It is all about companion planting, some plants as in the human world just do not get on with unsuitable neighbours! When planted in favourable company they thrive.Take the Tomato for instance...tomatoes and all members of the brassicas repel each other and should be kept apart, they also do not like the company of potatoes or fennel. A bit of a minefield, like who to put sitting next to who at a wedding! There is an A to Z of vegetables and their likes and dislikes, should make good reading and hopefully planning for next year.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Some Sunshine on another Wet Day!

My newest grandson, Scott, in one of the cardigans I knitted for him.
Being serious,wondering what I am doing, flashing lights in his face!
He was 3 weeks old in these photos, he is 5 weeks old now.
He does this ooh with his mouth!
A right hook! suggesting I get that camera out of his face!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Robert's Cove

This is where I spent some time last week, a small cove on the coast about 35 minutes drive from where I live.There is usually a fishing boat or two but that day there was a speed boat and a catamaran!Notice the sun shining.
All life comes to the cove at some time. There is a riding stables nearby and the horses come down for a paddle in the evenings.The tide is in so there is none of the beach visible. At the end of the month this is where I will get the seaweed to mulch the asparagus, it comes in on every tide but it is cleaned most days during the summer. See more photos in photo gallery on side links.