Thursday, May 28, 2009

Nearly There

This will be a short(ish)post as I have lots to do but if I don't post tonight it will be Tuesday before I am back on the computer.I went out to the plot twice today so Kathryn is on watering duties for the weekend as the weather is supposed to pick up and I am off to Robert's Cove for a break.The new plot is nearly in shape, only 2 beds to plant up and they are earmarked for leeks and calabrese and maybe a few winter cabbages.I collected 2 bags of compost from our municipal composter which I only found out about recently even though it is very near me!All green waste can be taken there and the finished compost is free to take away. it is fairly strong stuff and they recommend it to be dug into the soil rather than used for mulch. I dug it onto the celery bed and planted the self blanching celery into it.
The herb bed has been finished for a few days but owing to the camera problems I have not posted it before.
To the right is the new rhubarb bed, lots of horse manure and I took a chance and moved our one rhubarb plant even though it is totally the wrong time.It looks as if it is perking up but for a couple of days it was touch and go.I will but another couple of plants to complete the bed.The bed next to it has seeds sown for white turnips, more carrots and coriander, under the netting are brussel sprouts and some summer cabbage.
In the background and to the far right are our main crop potates, all up now!
The herb bed with a bark mulch.Some of them are quite small and it is hard to see them against the mulch.There is parsley,thyme, dill,chives,marjoram,sage and a lupin for colour.It will be next year before they reach a good size.
The apple tree with the celery bed in the background
Our peas have some pods developing on them!Lots of flowers and hopefully lots more peas to come.
It is hard to see but there are flowers on our Colleens. We are getting worried about potato blight now as it is nearly time for it to make its entrance and the weather is warming up to provide the right conditions for it!Some of the plotters are talking about spraying by next week.
I spent the afternoon in the poly greenhouse sorting out the tomatoes.I have put up strings to support the ones remaining in there and have picked 2 each of Tigerella, Marmand,Berner Rose and Incas, they are now on ground level and the shelves have been taken out.I picked off lots of side shoots ,some of them were quite big.I know a lot of people say it is not necessary but there is no point in allowing too many of them to grow as they will sap a lot of the energy of the plant.
I am leaving the door tied up as it is very hot in there now,I put all the other tomatoes outside to harden off until I decide what to do with them.Some of the plants are setting flowers now, so they have all been watered and fed for the weekend.
I will visit lots of blogs next week to make up for lack of time this week, have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Slug pubs in place

The Runner beans which I replaced this morning,well most of them. The first lot fell to a late frost,the slugs and snails got most of the second lot and this is the most recent( I won't say last) sowing.They are the small greener ones,they have been well hardened off outside for the last few days and do look tougher than any of the others that went out.I bought really cheap beer in cans (paintstripper) and filled about 6 empty yogurt cartons and sunk them into the ground, they can hardly be seen in the photo. I have about 3 spare plants in case of any further disasters.There are lettuce and Calendula interplanted on the bed also.
A close up of the Spinach and the Beetroot and of course the weeds! The dwarf beans can just be seen at the top of the photo.The parsnips and carrots are very slow to come on, it must be the weather as it is still getting very cold at night, some nights it has been back down to 5 or 6 degrees.I am going to replant some more of these seeds to fill any gaps ( a lot of gaps)we are supposed to have warmer weather on the way so the new seeds may very well catch up with the first lot of seeds.
The fruit bed with its mulch of hay to keep the budding strawberries up off of the ground, a Borage plant in the background is getting huge! They are a good companion plant for the veg garden and especially for strawberries but should be dug up after one year as they develop a big tap root which can be hard to eradicate if it gets too well in!Borage could be planted in a spare corner out of the way and left to its own devices where it would not take over a bed. The flowers are edible and can be frozen in ice cubes for summer drinks too.
I forgot to take photos for the last few days and finished up a little early today to concentrate on taking some and the batteries died in my camera!
I am off to the Bloom Garden Show in Dublin on Friday with my sister for the day.I won two tickets in an online draw on Irish gardeners forum and we are travelling up by train in comfort.Both of us are taking our cameras so there will be lots of photos to show.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pumpkin Trilogy

Kevin came out to the allotment today with the girls after school.They showed him where the pumpkins were planted and he put his one in near theirs,they also took him up to see the hens.They spent some time practising their hen calls as the hens did not take too much notice of them!
I only took one photo! The second plot is now dug over completely and set into beds ready for planting out.I put in 2 courgette plants and one outdoor cucumber into the old cold frame which had been filled with horse manure a few weeks ago. I watered the corn some of which is still a bit sorry looking.I also put out 4 squash plants which were in the greenhouse as some of the ones already out had died off in the cold of the past few weeks.
I bought 2 cans of cheap beer in one of the discount retailers for the slug pubs but forgot to take out the containers, the slugs are very much in evidence for the last few days so they have free rein until tomorrow.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Pumpkin Planting

Saturday dawned wet so we did not know if the planned pumpkin planting could go ahead but by 2 pm it was dry and sunny so off we went.Kevin had a busy social weekend with parties so his one will have to go in during the week.I took lots of photos so this is actually 2 posts ,one for the pumpkins and one for the hens.Zwena digging out the first hole on the muck ( dung) heap.
Sinead's pumpkin is safely in.
Dad was roped in to dig the second hole for Aoife but obviously did not know he was going to be standing on a dung heap!
The two pumpkins with name tags settled in, we also planted out some nasturtiums to provide some colour while the pumpkins are growing . More families arrived later so there were more plants and seeds put in.Zwena intends to have a pumpkin competition again this year. The adults planted theirs on the big muck heap but as this would be too dangerous for the children she got the ever obliging Scotty to construct a much smaller one for the kiddies pumpkins and has also planted some fruit trees and made a nice area for the kiddies to play in safely.

Hens are in !

The hens have arrived in the allotment!The girls were taken down to visit after planting their pumpkins.They have settled into their new home and Zwena says they will start laying in about 2 weeks.
Aoife filling the food hopper, Zwena fixed up water and food hoppers to feed the hens automatically.
Some of the baby chicks in their enclosure, they were in a cage but Zwena thought they were not happy and set up this long area which is wired off and they have lots of freedom but seem to like huddling together.
Julie, one of our new plotters has done trojan work in a very short time but is waging war on rabbits and slugs!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Waitng in Line

Its a waiting game now with stuff to go out to the plot.We have had so much rain and more forecast for today and tomorrow that the ground is sodden and it is impossible to even put a spade into it, its just muck.The courgettes and Marketmore outdoor cucumbers are in the tomato house with the pumpkins in there also.The tomato house is getting crowded so I will have to do some serious culling and donating of plants. I will probably have enough room for two of each variety when they are repotted into the next size pot
Blossom on the Tigerella tomatoes, I will pinch out the tops of all of them at 4 trusses to help growth and not to have them growing up too high .
Mini greenhouse, most of this stuff should be in the ground by now but is still sitting here. I open up the fronts of them every day as none of these actually need the heat inside, they would just grow long and spindly.
The second mini greenhouse more of the same just waiting. Between the two of them are,basil and sage,parsley,dill, lettuce,snapdragons,nasturtiums,celery,calabrese and the repotted Golden Sunrise tomatoes that were all tangled up a few weeks ago.I have put some of the herbs out to the plot on the new herb bed but they are probably buried under muck at this stage.
This is all that is left on the windowsill now and will be going out to the mini greenhouse in a day or two and the windowsill will be bare for the first time since mid January! This is a third sowing of runner beans,a late frost got the first few put out, the slugs and snails have denuded the ones put out a couple of weeks ago, there are just bare stalks clinging to the bean poles!There are about 17 here and popped up in a few days even out through the sides of the loo rolls they were so eager to grow.I will sow a few to have in reserve just in case.There are a few late developing courgettes and cucumbers in the other tray once the faster ones were repotted and put out these had enough room to come up.
Does anyone know why UKTV/gardens has disappeared from the Sky tv lineup?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


We had another day of wind and rain, we are probably having the wettest May in living memory!I took some photos of the flowers coming into bloom in the back garden last week and as it was too wet to do anything else I am posting these.The red flower is Granny's Bonnet it has a latin name but I never remember these, behind is a Hosta which the slugs never seem to take much notice of and behind that is an old fashioned Peony Rose just coming into bud now.
The planter filling out a little, the sweet peas are slow growing probably from the effects of the cold weather, night time temps are back down to 6 or 7 degrees Fahrenheit. There are also lettuce and spring onions in here.
Blues in the raised stone bed.The one behind is a low growing shrub again I have forgotten the name. The one in the foreground is a descendant of a packet of seeds I bought about 5 or 6 years ago, all I remember is Peruvian was in the name.They grew huge and dwarfed everything else in the flower bed and the only other place I have ever seen them growing was beside the swimming pool of our apartment in Majorca a few years ago. One of them survives to throw out a new plant every now and then. The leaves are a blue/green hue and the flowers open out in the sun.
The centre flower bed has flowers and herbs as well as a Globe artichoke in there.
The tumbling pots filling out but taking a battering from the wind also.
Hopefully tomorrow the rain will let up to go out to the allotment for a couple of hours as we are preparing for our Open day on 20th June.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Television on the allotment

Some of the flower plants hardening off on the patio table this morning. They are nasturtiums and anthirrinum (snapdragons). The morning was warm and sunny if a little windy so I put them out for some fresh air. I decided to go out to the allotment as the weather held and was out there for around 11.00am.I straightened the potato drills of the main crop, British Queens and Golden Wonders, as some of them are pushing through now.I had a bag of hedge clippings which I put down between the drills and a bag of grass cuttings which I put on the drills which will hopefully cut down on some of the weeds.I put hay under the strawberry plants some of which have good size strawberries already and did a lot of just general tidying up and weeding. The rain arrived about 1.30 pm heavy and persistent so I did not hang around to take anymore photos!
One I had taken earlier, before the rain and weeding the fruit bed. This is the blackcurrant bush which has a fine crop of fruit in evidence.The raspberry bushes have fruit and the 2 of the blueberries are fruiting but one which I hope is because it is a different variety has nothing on it yet.
On Thursday Chris and Maeve, two of our new young plotters are on Tv on RTE 1 at 8.30 pm on the Rte/Supervalue competition 'Recipe for Success'and some of the coverage is on the allotments.The competition shows the contestants battling it out to get their recipe produced and on the shelves of the supermarket chain. Chris and Maeve are involved with the slow food movement and are organizing a slow food event on the allotment in August... more of that later.They shared a plot last year but this year have taken on a plot on their own.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Garlic Rust, update

The garlic problem hopefully addressed, it will be a trial anyway to see if the rust can be contained or cured. It was reading Cazaux's blog that I found out there even was such a thing as garlic rust. I visited Stewart in my veggie garden down under as he has been doing garlic trials and told him of the problem and asked for advice which he duly delivered in the comments of the post which I have copied and posted here in case anyone else should need it.
there is several things you can do.
First is remove the infected leaves.
Second is apply sulphate of potash at a rate of 20/25g per sq/mtr, this helps harden tissues and improves resistance.
I can't tell how close your plants are from your photos, but they need to be at least 20cm apart so you may need to thin them out a bit.
next you can spray your plants and the surrounding soil with a sulphur based fungicide or zineb every two weeks or after rain.
Last, spread a fine dryish mulch over your soil to help stop any rust spores reinfecting your garlic.
Good luck Peggy and I hope you can still get a crop from them.
Let me know how you get on.
And definitely no extra nitrogenous fertilizers.

I also asked for advice on irish gardeners forum and again got instant and knowledgeable advice, you can read the complete thread here I used a combination of solutions as I wanted to stay organic and not use a chemical fungicide if possible.
I took Stewart's advice and cut off all of the leaves that had any sign of rust, while doing so I found that the rust spreads down the leaf from the tip. I binned everything which I cut as throwing it on the compost heap could cause more problems later.I put down the sulphate of potash and covered the ground with a thick mulch of hay to stop any of the rust spores going down to the bulb.I then used an organic spray with water, breadsoda, veg oil and washing up liquid from the site recommended by garlicbreath, a contributor to the thread on Irish gardeners forum, again it is from an Australian site and has lots of organic sprays which you can make up yourself to combat most garden bugs and diseases well worth a visit.
I earthed up the potatoes which are well up now. There are 2 drills of Orla a first early, 4 of Colleen a second early,2 drills of Charlotte, 1 drill of Home guard seed another first early and a drill of volunteers! Some of the stalks came out of the side of a drill and made it a bit harder to earth them up in a straight line so while they may not be symmetrical they are growing which is more important!
I took out the brussels sprouts and summer cabbage and put them into the brassica bed on the new plot.I removed the netting from the Purple sprouting broccoli and used it to protect the younger arrivals.The broccoli is about 4 feet high but not producing much in the way of florets, for the amount of time and space it has taken up all winter I would not be in too much of a hurry to grow it again
The sweet corn took a battering in the high winds we have had, I had a roll of bubble wrap at home and brought it out to make a barrier for it.The squash is in here also so they have a little micro climate inside the bubble wrap barrier.
A view down the first plot which is looking good this year!The fruit bed in the foreground has strawberries, raspberries,blackcurrants and blueberries, all have blossoms and I gave the bed a feed of sulphate of potash last week.The next bed down has seeds of beetroot,swiss chard,spinach, parsnips carrots and broad beans as well as marigolds in. All the seeds directly sown have barely come to the surface it is so cold and wet lately.
The next bed down is asparagus,PSB and rhubarb.
Garlic and onions in the next bed
Then 4 smaller beds across the width, of runner beans, red cabbage, cauliflower and peas and finally the spuds so we are down to the wire no more hard digging in this plot after nearly 3 years!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bird Scarers

A view inside the Tomato Condo as Keewee called it.Most of them have been repotted apart from the Golden Sunrise which were re planted into trays a few weeks ago after getting spindly left as seedlings too long. They will now have to be repotted during the week as they are nearly catching up on the others!When they get bigger there wont be room to move in there!
Have you ever wondered what to do with all those free Cds that come in the Sunday papers? I decided to make them into bird scarers ( read about it somewhere). The first day I only put one hole in each Cd which did not allow them to 'spin'.I found by putting in two holes and tying in very thin wire, I am sure string would do as well, they spin around furiously especially in the wind we have been having. I think the bird scaring idea is that they reflect flashes of sunlight(?)as they spin.
I heated a bradawl on the ring of the gas cooker...
With a chopping board underneath it punched holes through very easily...
The scarecrow now has Cds in threes dangling from his 'hands'! It is difficult to see them in the photo as they were blowing so much. I also hung a string of two on the bean frame.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Garlic Rust?

The garlic bed has worried us now for a few weeks.I thought it was due to the wet weather and it would perk up once early summer weather arrived.The outer leaves are yellow for the past few weeks I thought they were dying off prematurely but on closer inspection and after reading Cazaux Food farm blog I think there are what looks like rust spots on the leaves they are not just uniformly yellow.Cazaux has researched the causes and cures?!
I pulled one of the plants today to check what was underneath, they look like large spring onions that smell of garlic, the bulb has no sign of producing a clump of bulbs and is quite soft.
A close up of one of the leaves with the rust spots on it.Has anyone any ideas if it is garlic rust?The outer leaves on each plant is like this and the other leaves are not the healthy green of some of the garlic growing on other plots.We planted garlic last year and put it in in April which was way too late and it died off before developing into bulbs.We had white turnips on this bed last year.I will put the photos on the forum in Irish gardeners and see what the response is as there are some very knowledgeable gardeners contributing there.
A little good news, the mushrooms have produced spores which look like tiny white worms, Kathryn says it takes about 10 weeks from this stage to produce mushrooms and then they should stay producing mushrooms for about 2 to 3 months.I put on a permanent cover instead of the plastic which was falling down on top of them whenever it rained (every day!). It is weed suppressing fabric held in place on top with batons and held down for now with rocks until I think of a more aesthetic solution.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


There were gale force winds forecast for today in the south so I went out to the allotment for a quick look to make sure everything was secured as were others who braved the elements to go out. I returned home and went out the back to make sure everything was OK and found one of my mini greenhouses had blown over!I had removed the bag of compost from the bottom one day when I needed to use it and as it looked like summer was here I did not think of replacing it and paid the price today.It had not completely blown down as it fell against the patio table which kept it at almost a 45% angle I had not opened the front which I normally do in the morning to let some air in and stop too much heat building up.When I righted it, it did not look too bad,some things were still in pots and trays and the ones that had keeled over had not suffered any damage so I repotted them.The pumpkins were on the bottom shelf so had remained potted even if at an angle.
Upright and repotted,the marjoram herbs on the top shelf got the worst of the tumble but I replaced them in their pots.The Anthirrinums were all over the place but not broken.Calabrese and sage were OK and celery and pumpkins on the bottom survived. I bought the celery plants in tubs and repotted them,from one tub I got about 11 plants which I repotted individually.
The second one was OK for the moment,from the top are Thyme( not in photo), Dill and nasturtiums which I had only put out this morning from the bedroom windowsill! I had set 24 seeds, 10 popped up within days so I pricked them out into pots and re-covered the tray with a plastic cover and 7 more are up today, there is also another tray of lettuce plants. On the bottom are pots of basil and parsley which I have to admit I bought!One tub for 2.30e yielded about 13 separate plants!
Still on the bedroom windowsill are the remainder of the nasturtiums,sweet peppers, cucumber and courgette.
After cleaning up I secured them with more bags of compost, I added another bag after taking the photo just to be sure to be sure!This is what I was and am really worried about in the gale! I was running out of space as the tomato plants needed repotting into bigger pots. I had seen this in a hardware store in Ballincollig for 119.00e I took a few days debating whether it was worth the price when I saw the same one in Atkins for 99.00e so I bought it on Friday and erected it.All 70 of the tomato plants are in there, I did not take a chance on opening it in the gale to take an interior photo! I hope it is sheltered enough where it is between the shed and the hedge, it is not moving anyway so I will just have to keep on eye on it, not that that will do much good if it blows!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Surprise Post!

I am just in from town (Cork City)where I only go when I have to as I am allergic to shopping! I could see the two very interesting and lumpy parcels before I opened the door when I returned. I knew immediately who they were from as both very good blog friends had told me they were on the way but for both to arrive together made for double the surprise and excitement when opening.
Ann who writes Calico and Cards blog had kindly sent me one of her beautiful handmade tote bags.I love the loop fastening Ann, and as I am starting a little sewing item for my swap in Anna of Flowergardengirl garden letters, my embroidery items (all of 2 at the moment!)which I am going to begin after many years lapse will have a very suitable home.
Lynda of Foodfunfarm blog in Tanzania in East Africa sent me a length of typical Kitenge cloth with a beautiful handpainted card. I have just the item begging for a makeover for quite some time and both of these items will be used for it. Thank you so much Lynda.If you want to read the history of these cloths the post link is here
I will save the very colourful Tanzanian stamps in the hope I will hear of someone who collects stamps which I think is another dying hobby as so many children are now into computer games and miss the fun we had from this very interesting and educational hobby.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Weeding and Sowing

Even though today is part of the bank Holiday weekend, Kathryn myself and helpers spent most of the day on the allotments in the sunshine.Sinead,Aiofe and Kevin tended to their plots ,weeding and sowing spring onion plants. They have strawberries, onions,lettuce and the spring onions growing. They also have a gladioli and their Sunflowers are hardening off before planting out.Kathryn bought them 3 colourfull windmills to scare off the birds, fixing them took up a good part of their time.
The picnic is a most important part of the day. They look as if they are discussing something very serious! Maybe the price of veg?
Stephen doing his usual back breaking with the pick axe.This is the last of the new plot to be done so he can relax from his arduous duties.The sod has been broken now on all of the new plot so we can dig it over the next couple of weeks. It looks so much cleaner and orderly, the carpet we have been using to cover grass etc can now be retired to the compost heap.
Some of the asparagus which is coming through,it is a bit slow at the rate of 2 spears at a time, hopefully as the season goes on and the weather gets warmer it will hurry up a little.
The broad beans now have flowers on most of the plants but we had to take off some blackfly today as well.
We did a lot of cosmetic work, like weeding the fruit bed and putting on a potash feed. I put in half scaffolding boards at each end to stop the weeds and scutch grass from invading the bed. The asparagus bed was weeded very carefully, as it is a permanent bed annual weeds are a problem.I planted out the red onions as well.The onion and garlic beds were weeded so the two plots are looking spruced up.There is no sign of pigeon damage or slugs so far.