Sunday, November 23, 2008

Redecorating

I have changed the look of the blog,the cutest blog on the block has lots of backgrounds etc;and it is so easy to try them all out. A bit like window shopping without the expense!I spent ages changing it to 3 columns and succeeded but when I changed the background it reverted back to 2 columns so I am just going to leave it for now.I probably did not save when I should have so anyone contemplating doing the same ,be warned!
I changed the header picture to what the allotment looked like the first week we were there. This is Stephen and Kevin getting to grips with it.
I have been nursing a dose of flu or something equally uncomfortable and have been inside all day, it is cold and wet outside anyway so I have whiled away a couple of hours doing this.I also visited a few blogs to see what you have been up to over the past couple of days.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Meter Reading

It may look like a strange name for a gardening post, but with winter setting in I will post on other hopefully worthwhile pastimes.I have been following Rhonda on the Down to earth blog Frugal living, homesteading, etc all have huge followings in America and Australia and across the world.Watching what we pay on gas and electricty etc is one key way of cutting down on bills and saving money. Thankfully we in Ireland do not have to pay for our water...yet!Rhonda covers all of this on her blog. In Ireland our meters are locked inside boxes or inaccessible, but if you can take an ESB reading,do so, then carry on as normal for 2 days, then take the reading again so you have an idea of what power you use. Then for the next 2 days cut down on unneccessary usage ie; unplug all appliances like microwave, TV, computer etc at night, turn off all lights if the room is not being used and don't close the curtains until needed therefore turning on those lights later. Take shorter showers the list goes on and on.Change the bulbs to energy saving,after 2 days take the meter reading again and see how much you have cut down and saved.Penny pinching has got a bad name but it should become a way of life. Why should we be paying the fat bonuses of the utility companies and also more importantly we have to cut down on energy usage and shrink our carbon footprints where possible.Log on to Down to earth blog for some eye opening reading from Rhonda and her blogging friends.If anyone has any ideas on energy or money saving let us know.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Other People's Plots

I paid a quick visit to the allotment on Sunday afternoon. It was a lovely day,more like Spring than Autumn, temperatures were actually hitting 14% in some areas. Almost tropical!I just did some tidying up around but had a quick look around some of the other plots
Everything looking orderly and shipshape here, plants tidied up for the winter or mulched for the Spring.
Its amazing the amount of plants still growing or starting growth for next year.Last year the allotment was deserted come October, here we are this year and everybody is getting a head start for the next growing season.I read somewhere the motto 'gardening is what shows you believe in tomorrow'
Another well ordered plot. I think this winter we have all got in our winter sown onions and garlic thanks to Mike's advice earlier in the year.That is the great benefit of growing on the allotments, lots of well tried advice is passed on.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lanzarote

I have not been out to the allotment since we came back from holidays ,so I am putting up some photos of Lanzarote.The canary islands were formed many thousands of years ago by volcanic activity.About 300 years ago the volcanoes erupted and spewed out lava and burning ash over a period of 6 years.The whole vista of the island changed dramatically from one of lush green to vast areas of black tortured rock formations where nothing grows. Mother nature may be relenting a little for the devastation she caused as lichen,the first sign of vegetation to appear is visible in some areas in the lava fields and little bushes are clinging on precariously to what they can. Around the coastal areas the people have adapted and have vegetable gardens and use the volcanic ash as a mulch.It holds any dew that falls and passes it down to the soil beneath.The volcanoes erupted around the south west of the island the northern area has some areas where vegetables are grown.
This is just one view of the extent of the lava field and the volcanoes that were thrown up. I don't know how many there are in total but they stretch away in the distance on all sides.
This huge area is a national park now with tiny roads hewn through the lava.Cars are not allowed only the tour buses, parts of the drive are pretty hair raising as we skirted some of the craters and looked down in to the bowels of the earth!This is one of them, the area is not all black, there are some amazing colours depending on what was thrown up ie iron or sulphate etc.
There are 2 hot spots still on the island and this is one of them in the national park.When a bucket of water is poured into one these metal pipes inserted about 3 metres down in to the ground, count to 3 and it shoots up as steam!
In the same area, when dry brushwood is held to the side of the opening it catches fire in seconds!
They said that when Columbus was on the way to America (as we know now)he could see the mountains on fire.Timanfaya is the name given to this area, as the people who remained on the island thought the Devil was coming up through the earth and he is the symbol of the national park.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Golden Spider Awards



The Golden Spider Awards are an annual event honouring Irish individuals and organisations for their outstanding achievements online and celebrating the successes of the Irish Internet and digital media.

The awards not only reward Irish businesses and community organisations but also individuals for their creativity and innovation. The Golden Spiders provide an important opportunity to recognise and showcase online excellence and are considered an important benchmark for distinction and merit in web-based business strategies.

This is my last post before going on holidays and most of you are probably wondering what it is about?!A few weeks ago I was on the Eircom webpage, (Eircom are the biggest telephone and Internet providers in Ireland). I saw the Golden Spiders and clicked into it for a read. They had the various categories for the awards and I saw that there was one for blogs,thought 'what the hell, why not? I filled in the online form and clicked.
Imagine my surprise when I was contacted to say my blog was on the shortlist!!
There is a shortlist of 8 in each of the categories.
The awards night is a big occasion, held in Dublin. I am afraid my budget would not stretch to travel, overnight stay and a posh frock for the event.
But,hey, I have been shortlisted which is an honour in itself.
You can log on to the site here for full information on the categories and the awards themselves.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Uber Amazing Blog Award


I am delighted to receive this award from Lynda, you can read her always informative and interesting blog here
The rules of this award are:

*Put the award logo on your blog or post
* Nominate at least 5 blogs (can be more or less) that you consider to be Uber Amazing!
* Let them know that they have received this Uber Amazing award by commenting on their blog
* Share the love and link to this post and to the person you received your award from

I am nominating the following blogs for this Uber Amazing Blog Award -:
Stewart who takes a wry look at life from down under while gardening.
The tile lady always informative with great photos ( I never knew peanuts grew underground until I read it on her blog)!
Pam a blog about living a simple life and doing everything for themselves, while maintaining a great sense of humour
Clara I have only recently started following Clara's blog and it is so restful with thought provoking poetry and posts
and last but not least a fellow Irish allotment grower, Anna

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Planning for next year.

We spent some time on the allotment this afternoon as it was dry and sunny. Some jobs to be tackled before we head off on holidays on thurs for a week in the sun in lanzarote.Honey came down to have a look sporting this seasons must have colour on her blanket.
This end of our plot has never been dug so we are trialing the no dig method here!We spent ages drawing wheelbarrows of manure down to completely cover the area.The next step is compost or if you have a friendly grocer or supermarket who will donate any wilted or rotten fruit and veg, to cover as much as possible.Then cover the area again with cardboard and finally cover it with the black plastic to stop the nutrients leaching away in the rain.The worms get to work drawing everything down in to the soil and breaking it up. The plan then is to remove the plastic early next year and set the seed potatoes in to this heaving mass!Years ago in Ireland potatoes were grown in lazy beds done much the same way.A bed was covered in manure and the soil from the edges put on top. The pops were set in to it and as you were earthing up the pops and then digging out them you were actually digging out the section.We Irish knew a thing or two about labour saving gardening.
Trench Composting. I pulled up the remains of the broccoli plants and a couple of slug ridden cabbages from here.I dug it over, not too hard to do as it was well dug and plenty of manure added last year. I then dug the trench and started filling it with the cabbage leaves and any of the yellowing leaves from the sprouts etc.Again a friendly grocer or supermarket might help out.The idea is to add any composting material through the winter and fill in with soil as you are going on.This method is great if you do not have a compost bin or if you think you don't have enough composting material to fill one.This bed is for beans next year, while they do not like fresh animal manure they are hungry feeders. The bed will be ready made to plant out the beans when ready. I read about this method in Jane Perrone's book, The allotment Keepers Handbook and it was also recommended by Susan Taylor when she visited us a few months ago.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pumpkin Pie

Our pumpkin was merely the sum of its parts,shell,pulp and seeds.I decided to try making a pumpkin pie a complete first as I had not even seen or tasted one previously. Googled a recipe but all of them used the american measurement of cups? Using 2 recipes I eventually figured it out (I think).What I really needed was a recipe that began take a pumpkin in one hand and a sharp knife in the other...!All recipes used pumpkin puree, tinned or fresh, but how to arrive at the puree stage? There must be an easier way of separating the seeds from the flesh,it took me a good half an hour, then back to google to find out how to stew the flesh and put it in the blender to arrive at puree!
It tasted quite edible when it was all mixed ,the smell of spices permeated the kitchen while it was cooking and I must say tasted delicious when cooked! Would I go to that much trouble again,I am not sure,maybe if I started the day before and got the cutting and puree out of the way first.This is photo of the finished results one Halloween pumpkin and one pumpkin pie. Our pumpkin started life looking like this Now I am off to google Pumpkin seeds!
I put out the feeder for the small birds 2 days ago, it takes them a while to realise it is there, this fellow was in no hurry, quite content to snack at his leisure
This one is perched on the nearest bush waiting his turn for the feeder, there could be a queue of 3 or 4 sometimes. They can only support the smaller birds and the big crows etc, fly down but can't get near the feeder.