Monday, November 30, 2009

Ireland under water!

I found this video on Youtube, it gives a countrywide view of the floods.There are lots of other ones of the floods in Cork and Bandon.

Some Normality

A Sink full of hot soapy water...Luxury! How our priorities have changed in the last few days.This morning I was able to fill my sink with hot water from the taps, we have water to wash and for domestic use only, it will be another few days before it is cleared for drinking.Water was returned to the north side of the city on a phased basis over the last couple of days, ours returned at 9.00pm last night.The weather is dry and very cold and a lot of the roads were still wet when we had a hard frost last night so there is a lot of black ice about,the radio has been giving reports of car pile ups all morning.
Some of our country towns like Bandon,Skibereen and Clonakilty are still mopping up the water damage to their homes and businesses.The west of Ireland still has thousands of acres under water and winter crops have been destroyed with another flood warning as high tides throughout the Shannon region are imminent today.
Water tankers were placed around the north side and smaller tanks of water in housing estates for domestic use. These were manned from early morning until late evening by members of the defence forces who are the unsung heroes for standing out in cold wet windy conditions to keep us supplied. People came home from work in the late evening in the dark and then had to head out to queue for water.
I invested in a water butt about two years ago to have water to hand for watering the back garden, since I put it up we have had two of the wettest summers in history so it was never used for its intended purpose. I was able to use water from this for the toilet all week which was great.
We don't pay for water in this country and I suppose we do (or have) taken it for granted up to now.I now know it takes 2 litres of water to fill 1 kettle and 15 litres to fill the cistern for 1 flush!Thats not even counting showers and washing machines etc.
Something that may interest any American readers,click on photo to enlarge to read print.This house is on the outskirts of the city and every Christmas it is decorated with flowers and traditional Christmas decorations, it is then opened for Charity for a few days.Singers and mulled wine and mince pies add to the atmosphere. It is the birth place of a Major Clebourne who was in the Confederate Army in the US. My sister has some beautiful photos of the interior of the house over on her blog, tales from a garden.
Now that I am back to normal and water collection is not my priority I can get back to catching up on everyones blogs to see what you have been up this last week.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Water everywhere and not a drop to drink!

Here in the south of Ireland and all up the west coast have suffered flooding since last Thursday.Our water supply has been cut off due to damage to the water treatment works and we have to get bottled water for drinking and washing. In the midst of all this doom and gloom the bright spot was Jack Brandon was Christened on Saturday, there was enough water to pour on his head at least!Jack with his Mom Aisling and Dad Nigel.
The Western Rd, the main thoroughfare into the city from the west at the height of the flooding.We had 60 mls of rainfall in 36 hours which is about 270% of our total yearly rainfall. High winds, high tide and a lot water had to be left go from the Hydro electric dam to the western outskirts of the city, all added up to devastating floods in towns and villages and most of the city was under water on Thurs and Friday.The river Lee runs through the city and is tidal right up to the city so if high tides and heavy rainfall coincide some of the city center would flood.After one of the wettest summers in history the dam was full and the torrential rainfall we had for two days meant leaving off the water from the dam in the middle of a high tide had devasting effects.The force of the water coming down stream bent some valves in the water works with the result that we will be without water until next weekend at least.The city have water tankers around the city where we can take containers to fill up for essential needs. All the schools are closed as well until further notice.
I walked around the Lee fields on Sunday morning, I am not mad enough to try to take photos before that!The sun was shining and the worst of the flooding had subsided but it was still a daunting sight to see the expanse of water where there should be green fields.Someone somewhere gave planning permission for a 4 star hotel with an UNDERGROUND carpark to be built on what is essentially the flood area for the river and the dam!This is the entrance to the underground carpark on Sunday morning with cars in there!Residents had to be evacuated by boat at 2 am on Thurs morning.
Stating the obvious!
Walls were swept away by the force of the water
This metal dinosaur is usually surrounded by green grass with walkways around what is a big recreation area for the city.
The green seat in the background gives an idea of how far out the water has emerged. The river should be out of sight behind the tree line to the right.
Sea gulls gathering in a field many miles from the sea.
One of the roads still flooded with water streaming across from one field to another
Seagulls colonising another field
The weir with water cascading over it
The back of the Kingsley hotel ,a tree can be seen tangled in the railings around the water treatment plant
One of the pitches in the Mardyke Sports complex
another wall down in Sunday's Well
The river Lee splits into two at the western edge of the city and flows in two streams around the city to join again below the city much to the consternation of tourists who use the river as a landmark guide!With road closures due to damage to quay walls and flooding, circumnavigating the city for the last few days has been a bit of a nightmare,to say the least.
Trees came down all over the place, while they might have withstood the winds ,when their roots had been weakend by the water they fell.
It is raining again and on Thurs we are supposed to be facing more high winds and downpours needless to say there has been no gardening done but the plots are on high ground and should be safe from floods but the ground will be sodden anyway from the rain.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wintery Harvest

I spent a couple of hours on the plot on Tuesday in watery Winter sunshine. I dug out the row of parsnips and got the surprise of my life to see we had some fine specimens!I pulled the remaining few white turnips, a solitary leek and a good bucketful of sprouts. I also dug up the last of the Kerr's pinks potatoes and some of the Golden Wonders. It was when I loaded the photos to the computer I realised I had not taken a pic of the pops. After the spell of heavy rain they were covered in muck so were not very photogenic anyway.There is now a lot of slug damage to all of the potatoes so next year we will take my brother in laws advice and only grow first and second earlies.Potatoes are very cheap in the shops now and if the cost of blight spray etc is taken into account then these are very expensive spuds for very little return.
The full parsnip harvest, all shapes and sizes but a wonderful smell and taste.The largest weighed in at 600grms! We only grew one row of them, some of the first ones planted did not germinate and I set a second lot so I am not sure which are which.Next year we will plant a lot more so we have some to store over the winter months or some of them at least.
Some of the variations in size,the one on the left looks like an extra from Pirates of the Caribbean with tentacles sprouting out the sides.The two tiddlers in the middle did not even register on my weighing scales.
Some brave blooms are still hanging in there despite the gales and rain although after what fell last night and today they may not be there when I visit again.These are a few snapdragons still holding their vivid colour. I grew these from seed and we had a great display of colour all summer and now into the winter also.Cheap and cheerfull, the way to go!
The nasturtiums died off but seem to be making another appearance in the kids beds.You can see the cold wintery sunshine in the pic no warmth in the rays.
The first row of leeks are now gone and the second row is coming on even though it will be a few weeks before they are ready to pick. The third sowing is barely visible but is there. We staggered the leek sowing this year to have a supply for most of the winter hopefully.
The french garlic is up a few weeks and is about 5 ins high now but the Irish organic is a slow starter it is just putting up some green shoots now, these are barely visible above ground but are all up at least.
I dug over this bed completely on Tuesday, it was the potato bed and it is now ready for the sowing of green manure to cover it until Spring, it will if I get a couple of hours of dry weather.
We are experiencing heavy rainfall and high tides so coastal areas and around rivers are getting flooded.We had 17 mlls of rainfall in a couple of hours so flash flooding on roads etc was creating a driving nightmare.Glenbrook, a little coastal village a few miles from the city had a torrent of water flow downhill taking cars and flooding houses in its path.On the west coast thousands of starfish have been washed up on a beach and are causing a major headache for environmentalists. I am listening to the rain pounding on my patio door and the wind howling as I am typing this

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fungi and Flowers

Back to the rain this morning so I still have not been out to the plot.Yesterday was dry and cold but being Sunday I had lots on so could not go out.The leaves are falling from the shrubs in the front and in amongst them I saw these small white spots. On investigation I discovered I have mushrooms growing! What type they are I don't know but I am sure are not edible!
The mushrooms are small and white and growing up through the carpet of leaves which will have to be cleared off of the ground.I have never seen anything like this growing in the bed before, maybe it has something to do with the very wet summer we had.
As I had the camera I went and investigated the other few blooms which still survive in the garden.This is the Bacoba, still flowering, it was sharing with a Sinetti which died off and I replaced it with some Begonia which are still putting up some colour around the garden.
The Tumbling pots began life with Pansies and I replaced them with Cyclamen before the wedding in August and they are still performing well, it is fairly sheltered here near the patio door so they might linger on for a while.
A lone and waterlogged Chrysanthemum, this was flowering when I bought it back around April but then it died back and is now putting out new blooms.
A lone Lupin Spike has survived the high winds and stands sentinel in the flower bed.The lupins have flowered all summer? long, the later flowering spikes were not as vivid or high as the first ones but I love them and they have kept colour in the garden for months
Aha! My Buddha surrounded by I know not what! I think these are seedlings that have escaped from the stone bed and reseeded in the gravel around the Buddhas feet!I will have to wait and see what turns up if they survive the winter.
Fuschia is still flowering, this is part of the hedge which I cut back hard in July so I was not expecting to see any more flowers until next year.
Buds on the Christmas cactus, I had left it out behind the shed all summer and just noticed the buds today on it. I have put it into the shed now where there is less light but the flowers will probably be on show long before Christmas. I had repotted some of it last year and have about 6 new plants now, they are small yet but there are a couple of buds on some of them.

Friday, November 6, 2009

My new Hobby!!

Most people who know me know I love music and dancing.I had lots of photos taken at various venues languishing on my computer so I had a brainwave,I would try to put music to them for Facebook.The first attempts were hard going, Picasa skipped on some of the music tracks when uploading but now I have discovered Windows live media! I put photos to this track about Cork City, where I live. Cork has just been named one of the top ten cities to visit in the Lonely Planet Guide.The music is provided by a friend of mine, Finbar Dennehy who is a musician, for anyone who is interested the red accordion he is playing was once owned and played by the grand old man of Scottish music Sir Jimmy Shand.
All of them are on Youtube and can be viewed by typing in Finbar Dennehy music.More from peg1949 is on the sidebar on youtube and the other videos can be viewed there.Something to do in the long winter nights!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Green Manures

Again it has been over a week since I posted! I honestly do not know where the time goes to.We have had a deluge of rain over the past few days, some areas of the county are flooded and at the height of the rainfall a lot of roads were flooded to the extent of being impassible.Today we have cold wintry sunshine but a gale force North Easterly wind to keep temperatures down.I spent absolutely no time out on the allotment so some of the winter digging is getting behind schedule.We have a huge pile of horse manure on the plots but I have bought some Green manure seed to try an alternative. We already put in Phacalia earlier which has now been cut back to cover the soil, this is one I saw on the Seedaholic website and decided to try it as it is a Winter growing one and can be sown from August through to November.I liked this one as it has 3 types of seed in the mix and some winter colour will be welcome.The red flower is Crimson Clover,it is a good nitrogen fixer,quick and easy to grow,it will take some degree of frost but even if it dies back the winter roots are still beneficial.
The two packets of seed as they arrived, the pic does not show up the lovely mixture of seeds in the packets.There are;Crimson Clover,English Early Common Vetch and Forage Rye.The Vetch is also known as tare, it produces a lot of bulky foliage which improves soil fertility as it fixes nitrogen and helps add organic matter while suppressing weeds, it is considered very useful on heavy soils.The Forage Rye gives good crop cover and helps prevent nutrients leaching from the soil during Winter,it has deep roots which help to break up the soil.It actually grows during any warmer days during winter even when it is just above freezing.
There are 6 main advantages to growing green manures,
They add organic matter to the soil which helps improve fertility
They make nutrients available to plants grown in the soil afterwards
They prevent nutrients being washed away
They suppress weed growth
They protect the soil from being pounded by heavy rain which can form a compacted top layer
They help break up heavy soil, improving drainage
The flowering manures attract pollinating insects

And of course where it is difficult for a gardener to get a ready supply of manure they are an excellent alternative.
Now all I need are a few dry days to get it into the ground soon
I had to add our own baby Jack!This is the big pumpkin which Kevin took home for Halloween. His Mom Aisling has made pots soup from the pulp but could not resist sitting Jack into the shell in his pumpkin suit,I don't think he is too impressed with his new baby seat!