Friday, February 27, 2009

I woz Googled!

I have not been able to visit blogs for two days not even my own one yesterday! Anytime I clicked on a link a Google warning came up saying I could not be connected as it looked as if the command was coming from an illegal computer or words to that effect! Sometimes I was able to click in to one blog and then was cut off after a couple of minutes! I could not open my own blog yesterday! Definitely worried then,closed down everything checked my Windows defender was working, that was Ok. Then checked if Windows firewall was working that was OK.Then ran a full scan on the Macafee security even though it is set to scan every week. Nothing detected there, not even query?
I am careful about not opening anything I am not sure of and chain emails are deleted immediately. We all get these from time to time passing on prayers etc but anything where you are asked to add your name to a petition etc is a way of gathering email addresses for selling on or spamming.
I turned off the computer and plugged out the whole thing and did not turn on until tonight, so far I am in the clear, Google seems to have decided I am no longer persona non gratia!
No gardening done this week apart from putting my mini greenhouse outdoors, too dark now to take a photo. It is double wrapped with bubble wrap to protect the seedlings. My two spare bedrooms (greenhouses!) are taken up for a week with two students arriving,one on Sat from France and the second on Sun from Denmark.
The house has been decluttered, all my sewing, knitting and painting materials were spread out all over!
Providing Google allows me to stay in the fold I will be back soon with more.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Plots old and new

Our new plot! A bit daunting looking at it now,most of it was dug last year but has gotten a bit overgrown through the year. We were thinking of covering it with manure and black plastic and leaving it for a few months to plant next year, but then thought if we get it rotavated and manured in time we could sow potatoes in it for this year and dig out beds as we are lifting the potatoes.Time is crucial now as the seed potatoes will have to be in around April.

Our allotments are about a mile up a private roadway and not many people are aware of it, I could not believe my eyes when I saw this rubbish scattered around about halfway up the road in one of the fields.One of the drawbacks of being near urban sprawl. Zwena is on a mission to catch the culprit.

This is the end bed which was covered with manure,compost, cardboard and black plastic over the winter.I emptied the compost from one of the carrot barrels over some of it. The white fleece at the end is covering 6 volunteer potatoes I found when digging up the bed they were in last year.The potatoes I have chitting in the shed have not produced anything as yet but these ones left in the ground were after sprouting and have shoots of 5 or 6 ins.I decided to try them out and put them in to this bed through the plastic and covered them with the fleece to protect them.We will wait and see what develops!

Our rhubarb is coming on in leaps and bounds! I had put a pot over it earlier in the year but then read that the crowns should be about 3 years old to do this.I took off the pot and mulched it up with manure to protect it from the frost and snow. So far it seems to be working.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hydro Allotments

I have hardly been able to get near the computer all weekend as my youngest son and eldest grandson were here playing computer games. I did not really mind as it was ideal weather for gardening.Ed,Kevin and myself spent a few hours there on Sat and as i had forgotten to take my camera I went out alone for a while yesterday and took a walk around the plots.I met some of our new plot holders having a look at their holdings, it is great to see young couples interested in taking up organic gardening.As can be seen in the photo top, nearly all of the plots are nearly ready to go for the new season.There will be great competition this year!

This photo taken from the lower end of the plots showing the right hand side of the allotments

This view is up the left hand side from the lower end also.There are 20 plots here in all and 5 in the walled garden.We had put our name down for a second one and Zwena told us on Sat that the lady who was next to us last year is taking one of the new plots so we now have our second one right next to us! Kevin was thrilled at the prospect of having a whole new area to dig!

One of the plots with a nice tidy shed which I am told was a Christmas present!We plot holders are very easy to buy for, anything garden related.This one has lots of beds laid out ready to go as soon as the ground warms up a little which should not be too long now if this weather continues for a few weeks.

This is the entrance to William and Liam's plot, they have 3 side by side and William put up this lovely cottage garden type gate and archway, there is a climbing rose to the side but no flowers out at this time of the year.
Hydro allotments have a great historical background ,Zwena will have to put it together as it is of great interest. There was once an exclusive hotel on the estate with Hydro Spa hence the name and I believe many famous people stayed there 'taking the waters'. The estate was completely self sufficient and where our plots are now was once the walled kitchen gardens.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Katy Jordan

Linda sent me through some photos of Katy today, I had to put one up here! She is only 2 days old today and has the household in the palm of her tiny hand. Linda has put up more photos on her own blog on amateur crafter.Grandchild number 15 and one more to go this year! So far as I know we have 2 First Holy Communions, 1 Confirmation , 2 Christenings and 1 wedding to plan for this year!
We have not had a baby girl in the family for over 8 years since Aoife was born, everyone is going gaga over pink frilly baby stuff!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Baby news and new look scarecrow!

Daughter linda gave birth to baby Katie at 04.05 am this morning, she weighed in at a healthy 7lbs 8 ozs. Mother and baby are great and she hopes to be home tomorrow. No photo yet as I have been under the weather all day with sinus but it is lifting a little now. Linda has 2 blogs on the go, so her readers on the amateur crafter and a photo one she updates occasionally on photo gallery may not see new posts up for a few days but there will be lots of photos up there very soon I would think!

Yesterday afternoon when I collected the grandchildren from school we paid a visit to the plot with a new raincoat for our scarecrow which was looking the worse for wear after standing guard all winter!Kevin and Aoife admiring his trendy outfit, his face needs redoing also but he does look a little more cheerful after his makeover!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Resuscitating the Tomatoes

The Tomatoes had grown long and spindly with no sign of second leaves forming.They were planted on 12th January, they had heat but probably not enough light and grew up thin and spindly.

I mentioned to daughter K. on Friday they looked a bit unhealthy and she said to plant them into new compost up to half of the stem in depth. So nothing to lose on Sat I did just that.I selected 5 of the strongest looking of each variety which is really enough of each if they survive!

Today Tues this is what they look like! They have grown in length again but all of them have tiny second leaves appearing and the downy furry ( very scientific)! stems that tomato plants have are also in evidence.

I have left the others as they were to see if they develop in to anything usable but some of them are actually keeling over today.
I read somewhere that each time Tomatoes are potted on they should be put in the new compost up to the base of the bottom leaves, this helps the plant to develop a stronger root system to support the plant which will become top heavy eventually with fruit (hopefully)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

An extra post today.No, your eyes do not deceive you, this is Jack from Georgia in the US, and no he has not relocated from there to Ireland! I recently bought a bag in Pam's Etsy shop and this was one of the lovely 'extras' she included. I intend to do a post soon on 'designer' bags and will include it.Meantime jack is wishing Happy Valentine's Day from both sides of the Atlantic!

Today was Kevin's first day back on the plot this year and he was thrilled to be up to his knees in clay again.He remarked to me halfway through that these were the best days!Here he is diligently filling the the compost trench for me. This will be the bean trench, started last Oct, I have been filling it with compost brought out from home.

Another day sorting out the fruit bed, I realigned the whole thing, moved one of the blueberry bushes which was easy as they are now sitting in tubs of ericacious compost in the ground.I dug it over, removing weeds and then we barrowed in 3 lots of well rotted horse manure.Even this did not faze Kevin when I explained the nice black crumbly compost began life as horse poo!There are lots of buds on the raspberries, blueberries and the blackcurrant bush which we gave a slight pruning to yesterday to open up the centre of it and cut out any branches that were damaged over the winter.

The asparagus got a handful of organic fertiliser and a mulch of horse manure as well.

Gardeners gold! This is the compost heap ( hill)! Zwena got in a mechanical digger to expose the black well rotted centre of the heap.It is lovely black and crumbly. We are so lucky on the Hydro allotments to have this right on the plots and also standpipes of spring water all down the allotment. I know from speaking to others who work on other allotments they don't have these invaluable extras to hand.

A weary gardener taking a well earned break. We spent 3 hours out in the plot on a lovely mild day, got lots done to start the new season off.Kevin saw a pheasant close up for the first time, I was not quick enough with the camera to get a shot. Two robins kept us company for most of the time,hopping around waiting for us to leave to check if we had uncovered any worms! I took a photo of one but it was too blurred to post.
On the way home I saw a big poster advertising a gym for working off executive stress, I smiled thinking they would be better off out in the fresh air in the country and growing their own vegetables for a fraction of the gym membership!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Today was a beautiful sunny spring day and Kathryn and myself headed up to the plot, to pay our rent for this year which has actually gone DOWN. We started tidying up around the beds and checked what was coming on or not.Kathryn spotted this ladybird on a raspberry cane as we were working on clearing old canes and opening up the bed as there were too many canes per plant.We inherited these on the plot and this is the first time in 3 years we have been ruthless with them and cut them back. We thought it was early to see a Ladybird out and about?

This is the raspberry bed tidied up,we cut out quite a lot of wood and left just 2 of the strongest straightest canes on each plant.They will be tied in next week as march winds have yet to arrive!

We have decent looking rhubarb this year, the sticks are much thicker than any we have had so far and there are quite a few of them coming up.

We tidied up the Asparagus bed also. This is its 3rd year so we are looking forward to harvesting at long last.I loosened up the soil gently with a garden 'claw' , I don't want to damage the crowns by digging. They need a mulch and some organic fertiliser now (early Spring)

Zwena has added 5 more plots to the allotment which now brings our total to 25.These new ones are in a walled area and have been dug over and compost added to them. We have put our name down for a second plot as we are running out of space for all we plan to do.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I planted seeds for the sunflower Helianthus annuus Giant Single yellow on 8th feb 4 days ago and they have germinated already! These were ones bought from I only planted 5 of them for the moment, one seed in a pot

Tiny little u shaped seedling peeping over the compost, looks like a little periscope checking out the environment before coming up any higher!

I tried a little experiment while I was doing them and covered 2 of the pots with a plastic bag. The 3 without a bag cover have germinated first.

These are all the info leaflet which comes with each packet of seeds.I have a tendency to put things away and never find them again so I have laminated each page, punched holes and I am going to put them into a folder where all the info will be to hand.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

plants and pots

Back to gardening,I planted seeds of Kelvedon wonder peas left over from last year on 27th January, not too sure if they would germinate, but they did in about 6 to 8 days.They were in a seed tray so knowing they have long root systems I decided to transplant them. I checked out root trainers on Sat last, My God they are expensive! I had started saving loo rolls for the leeks but decided to use them for the peas instead. I used them plus a kitchen towel roll cut in half and then made newspaper ones as well. We had made these last year for the PSB and planted the whole thing when the time came to plant out as they biodegrade. I cut strips of newspaper and rolled it around one of the loo rolls for size then stuck it down with paper masking tape.

Then to fill the mini pots with compost without pouring it all over the place, I made a scoop from a milk bottle ( with a handle).I have made these before for using around the shed or garden they really come in handy.I then cut the top half off of a soft drinks bottle, I needed to cut some of the neck as well to fit neatly over the pots, it made filling the pots quick and easy. The bottom half of the bottle is saved for use as a mini cloche when the time comes to plant out.Recycling is one thing but reusing as much as possible will cut down expense and sending stuff to the landfill

14 Pea plants in their new root trainers,even at this stage they had developed quite long roots. I put them back in to the mini greenhouse to recover from the shock and as the days are improving I will start hardening them off for a little each day outside.
In the mini greenhouse at the moment are:
Tomato plants: not looking too healthy, a bit long and spindly not growing real leaves as yet.I think lack of light was a problem as I set them in January when we had very little daylight.
Cabbage plants: have germinated after 3 days! I took them out of the plastic and hopefully they won't get too spindly
Calendulla; germinated after 3 days as well.
Borage: white and purple no show yet ( 3 days )
Sunflowers: no show (3 days)
If this mild spell continues without any rain we will be able to go out to the plot and start preparing beds.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

New York Odyssey

My youngest son and baby was 21 in 2007 and we went to NY for a few days.It really is the city that never sleeps and impossible to see in the time we had, but we fitted in as much as we could.We did the uptown bus tour, the downtown bus tour and took the ferry out to the statue of Liberty and visited Ellis Island and of course shopped.We stayed on 7th Ave just a few minutes walk from Times Sq and found it very easy to navigate around the way the streets are numbered.We got off the tour bus at Central Pk and went into the Natural History Museum mainly because we were frozen on the bus! We could have spent hours in there,B. has long red hair which drew comments a few times.People asked was he Scottish or Irish and we saw the only other red haired person we encountered in NY, because it was Thanksgiving lots of schoolchildren were queueing to go in to the museum and one little girl there had a head of curly red hair! Central park is an oasis in the hustle and bustle of the city and the autumn (fall) colours of the trees were fantastic.

We got a taxi down to the Twin Towers site.It was an eerie feeling standing where as we had watched on TV so many perished that fateful day.It was a railed off building site when we were there and I am not sure if any permanent memorial has risen since then. There is a tiny church to the side almost unnoticed among the skyscrapers, I cannot think of the name of it now. The church is there since about 1740 surrounded by a churchyard where overgrown headstones bear testimony to its long history.It was unscathed in the events of 911 and it was where exhausted firefighters,police and helpers lay down to get a few minutes sleep and volunteers brought food and drink for them.The interior is quiet and peaceful and this photo is of one altar where just a fraction of the missing people photos have been brought for safe keeping. There is another one piled high with badges of visiting firemen and police from all over the world who have left them as a symbol of sympathy and solidarity with their colleagues who perished that day.It was the only place where there was a sense of reverance to pray for all who died and lost friends and family in 911.

We waited in Battery park for the ferry to Ellis Island and this Jamaican was entertaining the crowd with songs and banter. When he spotted B. he started on him about his red hair and when he discovered he was Irish he launched in to a selection of Irish songs to great applause from the crowd.We got the ferry around the Statue of Liberty and visited Ellis Island through which thousands of Irish people entered the US. It fell into disrepair in the 50's but is now a heritage site.If you have the name of relation who went through there they may be able to find it in the archives and give you a certificate, showing their passage details and ship.

This is the naked cowboy who busks on Times Sq, the film was not the only thing over exposed!Imagine my surprise a couple of weeks ago sitting down to watch our local TV talk show when who walked on in all his glory only the same naked cowboy! He was visiting Ireland at the invitation of a company promoting enterprenurship!!

It was Thanksgiving when we were in NY.The thousands of people on the streets were amazing, I read they estimated an extra 3 million people were in NY for the day.I woke around 5.00am and looked out the window, the streets were full of families going to get a position to watch the famous Macy's parade.We went up to the top of the Empire State building and saw some of the parade from there.The next day was called black Thursday for some reason and sales started at 5.00am, again the streets were full of people at 6.00am laden down with shopping bags!There were street sellers lining the streets selling handbags and the litter that was strewn all over the place was unbelievable but had mysteriously disappeared early the next morning.We did not get to see a show on Broadway as the screen writers strike was going on at the time.The lights were on but the doors were shut.
It was amazing to see all the places we had seen on TV or on the news and actually be there,it was definitely an experience in terms of sound and crowds and I could do 10 posts or more on what we saw, maybe some day B. will go back but for me it was a once in a lifetime experience.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Potty Party

Posting recently about tea brings me to milk jugs.In 2007 daughter L. decided to have a birthday party with a difference. She brought us to The Craft Pottery in The Courtyard in Midleton Co. Cork. We brought bottles of wine and nibbles for the party athmosphere.Susan the proprietor of the pottery sells her own pottery and also does classes for adults and children and does not mind slightly tipsy adults let loose on her pottery!She had a range of blank biscuit fired pieces ranging from small items to large dishes etc for the more adventurous.We each bought our own item and then picked a bigger piece as a present for L.,which we all painted something on and signed.First photo is the group with the finished items ( we cleared away the party remains)!
Left to right: K. with vase: S. with a celtic goblet: L. with her mad cow cheese dish: M. with her vase and also holding the fish platter we gave to L: Myself with jug: J> with piggy bank.

J.,( baby Callums Mom)showing off her piggy bank.Susan supplied and mixed all the paint colours and gave us books to look for ideas on what to paint but I think we all just did ad hoc designs, meaning they probably did not turn out quite as they should have.

Myself on the left and daughter M, engrossed in our work!

Discussing the finer points of pottery painting!

My finished Granny jug. When I was growing up,my grandmother had an old dresser and brightly coloured mugs and jugs hung from hooks. I loved the dresser and all the ware displayed there, I often wonder what happened to it all, probably discarded at the time as old fashioned.I picked my jug and knew it needed a vintage design, so I painted flowers and ivy ( you knew that is what they were)?!
When we finished, we left our masterpieces to Susan and she glazed and fired them and L., collected them a few days later. The colours on the finished pieces were bright and glowing. We were all delighted with our potty party.

Eternal Optimist

I don't know if it is eternal optimism or just plain fool hardiness but today I set out more potatoes to chit.I cleared away the debris and egg boxes and only reused any seed potatoes that did not have a hint of a tooth mark on them. The remains of them are on the left of the photo, over half of the original ones were thrown away.The centre row are another bag I had bought and are also British Queens, a second early. The box on the right are Coleen, an organic first early which I was dying to try out but had trouble sourcing here but they were sent up to me from Co Wexford.

One of the reasons why gardeners are optimists, today this little crocus was peeping up in my raised flower bed.It is between a lemon thyme on the left and companula to the front. I love the companula as it covers the rocks in a purple cascade all summer.This was a tiny slip my mother gave me years ago and I have slipped it over and over again.

Another solitary bloom, this time it is Dianthus or pinks as they are commonly called.This again was a tiny plant that has been moved so many times as it got too big and has never left me down just flowers every year no matter where it is pushed to.
Today has been a balmy 5%c. in Ireland, with brilliant sunshine after severe frost last night and more to come tonight. The days are getting longer and soon we will be out in the garden once again.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

More Nanny Knits

Scott who is now 5 months old, modelling his aran style cardi and hat which I made recently.He seems to think he looks funny in them because he giggled and wriggled while his Mom was trying to take the photos.

Ok Mom enough is enough,I have things to do!

Baby Callum trying out his crochet blanket for size, he is now 3 weeks old and a little angel.
Baby knits are so quick to do, and with 2 more on the way they need to be!