Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkins, Potatoes and things that go bump!

We have been on a pumpkin trail all day today!The two girls spent the morning at the Lifetime Lab on the Lee Road just outside the city, it is a fabulous facility for natives and tourists alike.Water has been supplied from the site since the 1760's! The old buildings and machinery have been restored and there is now a visitor centre and tours of the buildings. There are various educational workshops for schools throughout the year and occasional specials for something like Halloween.The girls did some science projects, colouring and cut out pumpkins and each child got to bring home their handiwork.Well worth a visit if you are ever in the vicinity.
Zwena had arranged for a press photographer to come to the plots in the afternoon to take some photos of the children with the pumpkins.While waiting I strolled around, Mike has a potato experiment going on here,he planted potatoes in deep pots , earthed them up and is trying hay piled around these ones with plastic covers to protect from frost. he intends to be harvesting for Christmas!
Mike's garlic is also up and his winter onions are looking good also
Aoife, Sinead and Kevin with their pumpkins which they grew, Aoife won first prize for the heaviest, she could not hold it up!
Baby Jack came along with his family, he was too small to sit into the photos so the wheel barrow was ideal for him.
Zwena enjoying the fun with the children
Zwena with the group, it was impossible to keep them all together as they wanted to check out the pumpkins
We had Dracula,vampires,devils and Shuin was a nice fairy as she does not like being scary!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin Picking

I cannot believe it is over a week since I posted!Time spent on the allotment was working to get prepared for next year, not a lot to actually photograph!The weather has changed to wet and some very heavy winds, today has been foggy and rained some this morning, it feels like autumn now.The camera has been playing up and the one day I wanted to take photos yesterday for picking the pumpkins the batteries were flat! Zwena had hers so has kindly emailed me some for the blog.The kids had a great time tumbling the pumpkins down the bank as the big ones were much too heavy to carry!The top pic is of all the pumpkin harvest lined up ready to weigh and measure.
The kids filled 3 wheelbarrow loads to take from the bank to the tea room for weighing.There were lots of small gourds also, this year we have a lot of pumpkins whereas last year we had fewer but heavier ones.Aoife won the biggest pumpkin in the children's patch. Kevin insisted on bringing his one home, it may have not been a winner but he wanted to show his parents he was so proud of it.
One of our leeks looked as if it was going to seed so I picked all 5 which were quite big ones.I also started digging our Kerr's Pinks which have some worm damage the same as the British Queens. Aisling and myself have made Potato and leek soup yesterday and today, a hearty winter soup which could nearly be eaten with a knife and fork!It is a very simple recipe:
1 chopped onion
3 medium leeks
4 potatoes
Water or chicken/vegetable stock heated
Melt 25grms butter, soften the onion
Add chopped leeks
When they are soft add chopped potatoes,
Cover with warm stock/water and season with salt.
Bring to boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes
Blend until smooth and add stock/water to preferred consistency.
We used extra potatoes to make a really thick soup.
When cold it can be frozen and add milk when heating for a creamy soup.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Birthday Shed & Seed Surprises!

The birthday shed was supposed to arrive on Wed but one of the delivery men had flu so it only came yesterday.They had it up and put together in minutes. I did not have time to put anything into it as by the time it was finished I had to leave for the school so today I am going out to move 'stuff' into it.It is only 6'x4' which is enough as I did not want it taking up too much ground space.
Youngest son Barry came out with me for his first visit to the allotment, he spent the time drawing wheelbarrow loads of manure to cover the new raised bed, which will now be covered with black membrane and left until Spring.He was very pleased with the whole set up and will come out again he said, he has volunteered to give the shed a coat of wood preservative before winter sets in.
The garlic is up, well I should say some of it is up. I had put in organic Irish grown and some french and it is only the french which is up so far but it is looking good.
This morning's surprise was new plants in the plastic greenhouse at home! I had taken seeds directly from the sweet peas and got some wall flower seeds from a friend's plants and had put them into seed trays. I had completely forgotten about them for the past week so it was a pleasant surprise to go in this morning and see nice healthy seedlings popping up.These are the wallflowers, all have germinated. I love old fashioned wallflowers as they have a beautiful scent.
I had taken the seed pods directly from the plants, they were brown so I assumed had dried out and I just popped them into the seed trays.These are the sweet peas, most have germinated but the taller ones will have to go into deeper pots now as they have a long root system.It is nice to see new growth now preparing for the Spring.
The birthday celebrations still in progress, my own family called last evening, I am the eldest of the four! My only brother Tom on the left, myself, Mary and Kathleen who has a blog also.We had a lovely evening tracing family history and are in the process of doing a family tree, more about that later as we make some progress, as a lot of our relatives had emigrated to the UK and America.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Big 60 Birthday Celebrations

Not a lot of gardening has been done this week as the big 60 loomed and was duly celebrated. I don't feel a day older than I did this time last week so I think age is really a state of mind.It was an evening of surprises as I thought we were just going for a quiet meal with the family members who could attend as it was mid week and they all had work commitments, but they all turned up apart from Linda who was sick and another daughter who is living abroad. Me blowing out the candles, thank God they had the sense not to put 60 candles on it or the fire brigade would have been gate crashing the party!
Immediate family who were there, 6 out of 8 was good
Extended family some in laws and soon to be inlaws
The big surprise was a stretch limo to take us to the restaurant! My first time being in one, and we had the champagne on hand to celebrate the occasion.
The limo group outside, someone said we were holding up traffic but I think a stretch limo is entitled to hold up traffic for a few minutes!They all went to an awfull lot of trouble to organize the night, the grandchildren had made cards and sent me garden related gifts, I had a memorable birthday and would like to thank them all for a wonderfull evening.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


We have had some lovely weather for the past week and lots of work was done on the plot but each day I had forgotten to take my camera with me so while it was all unrecorded it was done which is more important. We are putting all raised beds with pathways on the 'old' plot which entailed moving piles of earth which was backbreaking but very satisfying!
My birthday is on Tuesday I am going from the nifty fifties to the scintillating sixties!When asked what I wanted I did not even have to I am getting a nice small shed for the allotment, it will be delivered on Wed morning.
Some thought went into where it should go as I don't want it taking up too much space or being in the way.The old sweetcorn bed which was very unproductive this year was deemed the best position. It was cleared and a level space marked out ,Stephen is on camera moving up spare patio slabs which they had at home, these with weed suppressant fabric underneath will be the base of the shed to keep it off the damp ground.
The fruit bed is getting a much needed extension for next year.This was the fruit bed with a pathway between it and the roots bed this year, the parsnips are still in situ so we have to work around them for the moment.Earth was moved from one side of the roots bed to the other to widen one pathway and cover up the centre pathway, over doubling the size of the fruit bed.
Another view of the two beds, the parsnips are choked with weeds in the photo but I forgot to take an 'after' photo after digging the beds and weeding around the parsnips! Micheal had given me two Autumn fruiting raspberries and a thornless blackberry and we have pots of strawberry runners so the fruit bed needed the makeover ASAP!
The garlic bed under the netting ,they are in over a week now so fingers crossed something will be showing soon.The end bed is another raised bed in progress, this was the runner bean and cauliflower beds, now one square larger bed with another pathway in between. We had the scaffolding boards already but they had to be relocated. Once I have secured them together the bed will be filled with compost ,covered and left until Spring.
There was a lot of tooing and froing with boards and compost but once everything is completed we can lay weed suppressant on the pathways and cover it probably with bark mulch it should look tidy and we will be able to get around in the winter months without being covered in muck!
Still digging potatoes, nearly finished the British Queens and then we have Kerr's Pinks and Golden Wonders to work through.There are all sorts of experiments going on with potatoes on the plots, some have been left in the ground to reseed and are up, some have tried pops in tubs to have for Christmas and they are also putting up good growth.
Sprouts and leeks are also on the menu and our two remaining celery plants are doing OK.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Corrigans City farm & Parisian Macaroons

Corrigans City farm is back on our Tv screens for another run. This time he is revisiting the two city allotments to check on their progress and he also visited our plots in late July a snippet of which was seen on last nights show.Our scarecrow made his Tv debut!They may or may not show more of the visit as parts of it become relevant to the programme content.Our allotments looked good and various plotters can be seen working away in the background on a lovely sunny day.
Parisian macaroons!I pirated this photo from my sister Kathleen's blog on Talesfromagarden, her son was spending a few days in Paris and was dispatched with instructions on where to go for these macaroons which she had read about on another blog.The macaroons are world famous it seems! To read about them visit Kathleen's blog and maybe if a trip to Paris is on the cards you can find out where to get them.
We spent some time on the plot today again between school and music lessons.The girls had great fun pulling down the runner beans. I cut the ties and cut the plants at ground level,leaving the roots in place to set nitrogen in the soil for next year. They pulled up the bamboo canes and unwound the bean plants which were added to the pile of composting material on another bed.
I brought down a few barrowloads of manure for the same bed. This bed had the onions in this year , it has been nearly covered now with composting material ,lots more manure to go on it and then covered with weed suppressant ready for next year.All of the 'old' plot will be treated the same way with permanent raised beds put in place and none of them are going to be dug just covered in this way.
I put a query on gardeners forum about the control of wire worm as we all seem to have more of a problem with slugs than blight in the potatoes.I know introducing nematodes is one way of treating them but I don't think we are too happy with that solution!
We have no school tomorrow as it is voting day (again) for the Lisbon Treaty so hopefully if the weather is dry we will get to spend some time on the plot. While this spell of dry weather is with us we must try to get as much as we can done for next year because we know from experience that once it starts raining here it forgets to stop!