Friday, April 30, 2010

Moon planting and Mojitos

I got a couple of slips of mint which I have potted up, I will keep them in pots as it is very invasive sending out shoots into adjoining plants and beds, which is how I got these two slips.There are 2 pots, one for at home and one for the mobile home not that I intend doing any gourmet cooking down there but mint is an essential ingredient for Mojitos to which we are all a little partial.GYO cocktails could be a whole new off shoot from GYO veg!
The power and water was turned on yesterday in the caravan park so I will spend some time there over the weekend turning out the mobile home and airing it after the winter.I thought there may have been frost damage to the pipes after the long cold winter but everything is Ok.
Some slips of sage potted up, I have it growing on the herb bed on the allotment but have often needed it at home so this pot is for here.
The sweetcorn, cucumbers and courgettes are growing and will be potted up between Sun and Tues according to the moon planting guide.They were sown by the guide and any further potting on has to be done on the relevant day for best results.I have no complaints so far.
The tomato plants are ready for their next potting on as some roots are showing through the ends of the pots, again the same as the sweetcorn etc
Peas are flying and I will sow more to keep a crop going as long as possible
The antirrhinums (snapdragons)are coming on, I lost nearly half of one tray, why I am not sure as the rest of the tray is OK but they were a bit on the dry side. I am pinching out the growing tips of one tray to see what difference if any it makes to the plants.
The yard long beans need potting up into separate pots ASAP, they need space to grow on before planting out on the plot.
Scarlett left a very informative comment on a previous post, she has been growing by the bio dynamic moon planting guide for over 3 years and has had great results.Scarlett said cauliflower are treated as a leaf plant not a flowering one for the moon guide!
I have copied the moon guide for Sun to Tues below, all of the above plants will be potted on as these are their days.A very busy couple of days in the greenhouse!
The guide comes every thurs in a newsletter from
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Sunday 02/05/2010
Waning gibbous

Moon in Sagittarius: This is a Fire sign. This is a good time to sow Fruiting plants like Aubergines (Eggplant), Broad Beans (Fava), Cucumbers, French Beans, Marrows and Courgettes, Peas, Peppers, Pumpkins, Runner Beans, Squashes, Sweetcorn, Tomatoes, but it would not be a good time to sow Leaf plants like Basil, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbages, Celeriac, Celery, Dill, Kale, Lettuce, Rhubarb, Seakale, Spinach, Swiss Chard,

Thursday, April 29, 2010

An Open Invitation

Catherine has a book launch on Sat 8th May in an actual book store!The book Mousetrapped has been selling very well online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites.Friends and family have been bribed or otherwise cajoled into attending but she would like a few passing strangers to pop in just to add a little novelty to the proceedings.I am only joking Catherine, we are all delighted to attend!
It could be described as a travel book,or a handbook for any J1 visa holders or gap year students contemplating travelling and working in the US. I think it is the only
book available about working in the Disney resort in Florida, and is also a very good read both funny and informative (especially for unsuspecting parents who may wonder how their offspring spend their time away from the parental raised eyebrows)
Catherine's website
Anyone in the vicinity of Douglas Cork on May 8th around 12.30 ish is invited to pop in.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

We are getting greener!

Yesterdays rain has brought about a big transformation in the garden at home and on the allotment. It was badly needed and even though we were supposed to have showers today we just had one heavy shower this morning and the sun has been shining all afternoon.
According to the moon planting guide today was the last day for flowering plants for nearly a week so I took the cauliflower, broccoli and marigolds out to the plot, I can only hope I am reading it right! The cauliflower and calabrese (Broccoli) are in the brassica bed netted from pigeons and rabbits.I firmed down the soil first by doing a bit of 'surfing' with a board to compact the soil as brassicas like a firm soil.They are planted up to the bottom set of leaves but I was careful not to bury any of the leaves in the soil, no point in giving the slugs a taste!I will put collars around them during the week also, another rainy day job cutting out the circles from some old black plastic like weed membrane.I held back some of the broccoli which I will pot on just in case there are any casualties.
The marigolds lining the pea and french bean beds, marigolds are a good companion plant and are often seen in allotments to attract bees and tempt whitefly to leave the legumes alone!
The rainfall has brought the potatoes up almost overnight and I earthed them up again, frost is not forecast but better safe than sorry.
All of the strawberry plants are covered in blossom!In answer to a query on a previous post from Foxylox about the strawberries, I did buy 6 plants last year in Aldi 2 of which were early varieties.These plants have all been relocated so they cannot all be an early variety.I think we will cover them with polythene in case of frost or temps dropping again, it would be a shame to damage them now when they are doing so well.
I tipped the raspberry canes. I cut the tops off of the canes, just about 3 ins from each. This is to make the old growth easier to find when we are cutting back the canes in autumn.They are slow to put out growth this year due to the cold winter and frosts.It is a job I have meant to do each year and then forget until we are trying to sort out the old and new canes when cutting back later on.
I cut some baby leaves from the spinach in the greenhouse, about 25 in total not a lot but this year we will cut them young to try and prevent the plants from bolting.
Now for something a little different,a few weeks ago I did a guest post for Anna and she sent me some of her handmade soap in return. I have been using the Gardeners Soap which is terrific,it raises a lovely lather and feels creamy on the hands.It removes the garden grit and leaves my hands lovely and soft.I always put on gloves but have a habit of removing them to get to grips with some small job and never remember to put them back on!I am not sure if Anna sells this soap but I would highly recommend it to any gardener!
In the greenhouse which was almost neglected for a few days the sweetcorn, courgettes and cucumbers are up, these were planted according to the moon planting chart on 16th April.The yard long beans are forging ahead, only 3 of the Cantare bean are up and all of the peas are peeping through.
Cabbage and Brussel sprouts are outside with the spring onions, it is getting a bit like musical chairs out there now moving things around to gain space.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Week of Reflection

I have not posted for a whole week so had to try to sit at the computer this afternoon.On Tues we got the news that my daughter's best friends husband had died, he had been battling leukaemia for some time.He had a bone marrow transplant back in January and we thought it was only a matter of time before he would be in remission but problem after problem arose which they dealt with bravely but it was not to be.The week took on a sombre note as we came to terms with the terrible news and thought of how sad a blow it was for his brave young wife and two small children, he should have celebrated his 37th birthday next week.
It puts the small things we worry about in perspective. I did spend some time on the plot and was very glad that each day I was the only one there and it was ideal to reflect and spend some quiet time alone
The weather continued dry and warm up to yesterday which was overcast and cloudy and at last today we got some much needed rain, not heavy just a gentle light rain which will hopefully soak into the dry soil.We have had one of our driest Springs in years, nothing is really growing, farmers are in trouble as grass is not growing to feed livestock and any excess fodder was shipped up to the west of the country back in Nov when they had severe flooding.
Top pic, the brassicas are still waiting to go out to the plot but are growing strongly in their pots,spring onions and marigolds have now joined them outside and are enjoying the rain.
The turnips and spinach sown directly into the ground on the plot are just appearing above ground.
I was the only one on the allotments so made the most of the opportunity to use the hose.If too many people turn on the water at the same time the users lower down the plots just get a trickle. I let the hose run between the drills of potatoes as I worked.I did not put drills over the potatoes when I planted them as each year some of the stalks grow out the sides of the drills. This year I waited until the stalks were just above ground and then put a low drill over them to protect from frost which we have had each night up to last night.
I hoed between the rows of onions as annual weeds were making their presence known.The weedy section in the centre had to be left be as there are 2 rows of carrots and one of parsnips sown there.The carrots are up or at least tiny green shoots are and as they are growing in a straight line then I presume they are the carrots.Hoeing also broke up the top soil which was cracking it was so dry even though I had watered regularly but the warm sun just baked it.When I planted the onions I had left a hoe space between the rows and it made light work of weeding as the weeds were still young.
The bright green seedlings are Calendula which had reseeded since last year, the following day, I prised them out gently and resowed them along the fence behind the onions.Calendula are a good companion plant for veg and attract bees to the plot apart from the big splash of colour they also provide.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Row by Row....

The yard long beans lost no time in coming up and seem to grow before my eyes.I have not grown these before in fact never even heard of them!I received them in my gardening by letter project, where we sent a garden related card with some garden related bits and pieces inside.
The brassicas are hardening off, they were repotted into these larger pots again adding a handfull of lime to the compost mix.Their next step is to be transplanted into their permanent bed on the allotment in a week or two.I was very single minded and only used the strongest plants and discarded any that were undersized.I have sown seeds of summer cabbage at home , I used Derby Day which I had last year and it was a firm favourite and good performer on the plot.
Today was a beautiful warm sunny day so D.Aisling and Kevin and Scott accompanied me to the plot for the afternoon.Aisling getting stuck in with a fork, she did volunteer and I accepted! Kevin and Mom dug and cleared another bed.
Scott had barely arrived when he fell asleep!He slept for ages, I think the country fresh air knocked him out
Then Scott woke up and wanted to explore,so Mom and Kevin took him up to see the horses, here he is examining the mesh fencing around the fruit bed.
Hi Nan I'm back!
Aisling and Kevin standing proudly beside the new bed, we also edged the bed beside the greenhouse and shed with timber. The shed and patio area are now separate and there will be no taking short cuts through behind the greenhouse. It is slowly taking shape as I also dug out a new bed for the sweet corn.We will hopefully have all of the beds ready when what is growing at home is ready to go out.The song, inch by inch, row by row comes to mind!
Yesterday was a good day to plant fruiting plants according to the moon calender.I planted, courgettes, cucumber and sweet corn at home. I always intend to use the gardening calender but usually with our unpredictable weather we have to plant when we can.They should also be repotted and transplanted on a similar day on the moon calender.
The lads on the next plot spent the afternoon rabbit proofing their garden!There was lots of work in evidence and this year all of the plots are going to be cultivated as all of our new plotters are brimming not just with enthusiasm but also putting the in hard work now where it matters.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Enjoying the Sunshine

We are enjoying days of glorious sunshine and temps in the high teens!We have had beautiful April days before that promised beautiful summers which never materialised so we are making the best of what we are getting at the moment.I have been on the allotment every day and there is Trojan work being done on all of the plots as everyone is busy.
The strawberry plants have blossoms on 9 of the 20 second year plants, the first year ones can just be seen in the background but none have blossoms so far.
The lettuce in the greenhouse is coming on , the strange upside down bottles are Kathryn's idea to seep water to the roots of the plants. Fill a bottle with water with the cap screwed tight and punch some holes around the neck, bury the neck of the bottle in the soil and the water seeps out slowly to the plant but I think one near each plant would be better.The milk bottles crunch in as they empty but the drinks one stays in shape and seeps slower.
I dug over the new brassica bed yesterday, Barry had topped this up with manure last year and it has been under black membrane all winter.The soil is crumbly and earth worms were in abundance having enjoyed a good winter!I am going to sow swede turnips today and in a few days some of the cabbage will be ready to go out.
I cut the yellowed section of leaves from the garlic, it does not look like garlic rust at present but I will be keeping a close eye on it from now on.
The dwarf green beans have settled in nicely but when I went out on Monday, 2 of the plants were lying withered on the ground.I was a bit puzzled as it had been netted against rabbits and birds and did not look like slug damage.I was speaking to Brian yesterday and he said it could be MICE! Charlie had also had some plants damaged and had put down a mouse trap and caught one.The list of scavengers increases each year!
Brian also told me Charlie had given him a tip on peas which he has tried with great success. Charlie uses supermarket dried marrowfat peas as seeds,Brian has about 40 seedlings growing at the moment from a packet!Pricewise the normal seed packet is about 4.65e for a handfull of seeds, the supermarket ones are about 1.60 for a box full! Brian will let me know how they taste but if Charlie has been using them for years then I would think they taste OK.
A quick look around the plots,Christy has potatoes up already, he planted these on 20th march under glass and will have the first new potatoes on the allotment!
Zwena has asparagus up which I am quite envious about!These are the purple variety and Zwena thinks they may be an earlier variety than the green which I have. I am hoping the severe frost has not killed off ours as they are in a raised bed, only time will tell.
Zwena also has a bed of rampant rhubarb!
We had not been over to see the hens for a while so paid a visit before we came home.They had laid all winter, enjoying a nice warm house and fenced in garden.Zwena introduced 2 cockerels recently and there has been no eggs since!These 2 cockerels crow all day long and are a new sound on the allotments.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Last of the Blackcurrants

Today is a beautiful sunny day and warm to boot!I did not go out to the plot as had to catch up at home.I had 1 kg of blackcurrants left since last year in the freezer so made about 6 lbs of jam using the easy method. Simmer the fruit gently adding some water, heat the sugar in the oven, I used 1 1/2 Kgs to 1 kg of fruit.Add sugar to fruit bring to one boil and test,it is usually ready and pour into jars.The smell of jam making in the kitchen was reminiscent of summer evenings!
I had frozen some blanched pears last year and defrosted a packet to make this pear sponge. I would usually make it with apples but decided to try the pears. It smells devine but has not been tested as I write!The sponge topping is a basic queen cake mixture of 4 ozs marge, 4 ozs Sugar,2 eggs and 6 ozs SR flour.I will serve it with custard after dinner.
The tomatoes are growing and show no sign of wilting after their shift out to the greenhouse, I still have them covered with a propagator cover at night.
The snap dragons are out of their bubble wrap and growing OK in the greenhouse also,I open the doorflap during the day to avoid over heating the greenhouse as it is in a sun trap against the house wall.
Cauliflower plants , some are much bigger than others, only the strongest will go out to the plot and I will set more seed in a week or two to stagger the harvest a little.
I planted seeds of french beans and more peppers today, the yard long beans are also on the windowsill. I will lose my window sill on Sunday as I have a second foreign student arriving, I already have a french student after 2 weeks of a 2 month stay.The student arriving on Sunday for a month is Spanish so it will be a little like the UN for a few weeks!

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Kevin spent most of yesterday with me on the plot.We went out early at 11.00am meaning to come home early but as usual it was nearly 5.00pm when we returned.I widened the pathways a little and will move the 3 beds for the kids this year. Kevin got his going early , here he is shaking the soil from the sods as we were digging over his bed.There are still lots of couch grass roots and he diligently removed them as he saw them, I also got a running commentary on the worms he came across!
The patio in front of the shed, I edged it with wine bottles, not all mine I hasten to add most of them were donated!I need as many more to edge the other side but I am sure I will have no problem there getting them in a couple of weeks.
Kevin with his bed planted up, he sowed carrots, parsnips and I gave him enough onions to plant 2 rows, last year he had better onions than I had!He also moved his strawberry plants and has some mange tout peas and insisted on leaving some space for flowers!
I dug over a bed for the beans and erected the frame after putting in a wheel barrow load of well rotted manure, another bed ready to go when the plants are ready to go out.By leaving the bed for a few weeks any annual weeds may come up and can be pulled out before planting.
I spotted these nests the previous day and stopped to take a photo on the way home yesterday, the trees are around the edge of the field on the way up to the allotments.I wonder are the birds wondering why there is no green cover this year as their nests are visible due to the lack of growth this Spring .I have seen some flowering cherry burst into bloom along the roadside but they are scarce so far.
The new header photo for April. I changed the angle as there is really no visible change taking the same photo as the last 3 months which is what I had intended to do!This is a view diagonally across both plots,ours extends to the end of the middle shed.All of the fruit bushes are budding at last ,we have warm sunny weather forecast until the week end at least so hopefully things will start to grow at last!
The new plot which we took over last year has the greenhouse and shed at the end.
The strawberry plants are growing through the plastic, something we are trying this year to keep the fruit off of the ground and keep down the weeds.
Garlic is growing strongly but the tops of the leaves are tipped yellow, may be frost damage.We had garlic rust last year but hoping it is way too early for it in April!
I have just read the post for last year when I was putting in the link and it is not too early, the yellowing on the leaves is different but next time I am out I will check it thoroughly just to be sure to be sure!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

First Harvest 2010!

Yesterday I went out to the plot just after lunch as the sun came out. I was the only one there for a while then others ventured out. A lot of the small plastic cold frames had blown away in the storms.Fleece and plastic covering had been blown around also, rocks were holding down the corners so they had blown off the plants but were twisted into some weird shapes by the strong winds.I finally pulled the last of the over wintering leeks, last year we staggered the sowing of leeks and have had leeks since about last Oct.I was reading Matron's blog and she had pulled some of her rhubarb,If you are reading this Matron I remembered to twist and pull from the base and only took 5 stalks from the oldest 2 plants. There are lots more coming on, on these two plants. The crowns I planted this year are growing but again following Matron's advice we won't pull any stalks from these this year, allowing them to grow and strengthen the crowns.
I took the bull by the horns and took out the hardened off plants because space is running out at home. The dwarf green beans and the mange tout are now in situ .I netted them from the rabbits and birds but I am keeping my fingers crossed we will not get a severe frost. They are in the shelter of the shed and getting any sunshine that comes their way.
I also planted out the Snowball onions at the end of the red onion bed.The red onions are growing albeit very slowly but nearly all of them now have a green tip growing.
I planted out the Spinach and winter cos lettuce in the greenhouse border. I had also taken out a bag of compost to bring the bed up to the edge of the board. The tomatoes will not be taking up this border for some weeks yet so we could have a salad harvest in the meantime
My near neighbours over the fence busy putting together a sturdy coldframe from discarded timber.Ger (the batman) and his friend Lucas have an awful lot of work done already on this overgrown bed. The other plots can be seen in the background and the amount of work everyone has done so early is amazing. Lots of healthy competition going on this year!
I potted on my tomatoes yesterday just a few of Moneymaker, Gardener's Delight and 100's and 1000's. I also potted on the Calendula and planted some Yard Long Beans, which I received in my gardening by Letter project.