Saturday, May 29, 2010

Some Flowers and Some Frustration.

It rained heavily during the night and a strong wind has been blowing all day but the forecasted showers did not materialise and it stayed quite warm.Kevin came to the allotment with me and Kathryn arrived with the three girls to get down to some serious weeding.The weeds just seemed to multiply and grow overnight with the rain!
I will get the frustrating bit out of the way first. I planted out the brassica bed a couple of weeks ago,used lime in the pots to combat club root and netted them against marauding pigeons and rabbits.A couple of days ago I noticed one of the cauliflowers had changed leaf shape to very ridged, thinking I had perhaps mixed up the plants and maybe it was a calabrese?!Yesterday it had died and when I pulled it out there was literally no root system. Today another one had gone and two of the calabrese which are next to them likewise.I checked the root remains and there discovered the larvae of the cabbage root fly!Tiny little white maggots for want of a better word.
I have no one to blame but myself as I had intended to make collars for the brassica but it was one of those jobs that got put on the long finger.I had just planted out the Derby Day summer cabbage today so it could not be put off any longer. It took me all of ten minutes to cut collars from some black weed membrane for these and the remaining brassicas, maybe a case of shutting the stable door when the horse has bolted?!The photo is the said bed and the collars can just be seen around the plants.
Enough of the rant and the woe is me,the kids climbing the old estate wall which surrounds the plots, built with toe holds obviously in the days before health and safety overtook us.
Sinead balancing on the stones built at angles to stand on
There are flowers on everything,I took the tomato plants out to the greenhouse and these are flowers on the 100's & 1000's
The lupin was grown from seed of a burgundy coloured one at home but this one turned out a lovely pale pink, I will save the seed of this just to see what colour the next generation is, the chives in bloom and just behind is the thyme with flowers.Blossom on the early potatoes
On the broad beans
Strawberry blossom and lots of fruit already set.
Sinead weeding her bed
The tomatoes in the greenhouse,I took the last winter lettuce home and moved the spinach out to the salad bed, whether it will survive the move remains to be seen
The salad bed is filling up, the garlic in the background after weeding and cutting off more rusted leaves.
The sweetcorn also made the transition to the plot today. I took out 3 bags of compost from one of the bins at home and put a windbreak around it to help it settle in.
Kathryn and Aoife weeding
Gemma, weeding the brassica bed, a girl must always be seen dressed suitably!

Kathryn and Aoife still engrossed in weeding, they also put in 2 broccoli and some lettuce which I had left over. Kevin had disappeared any time I took photos, Zwena took them all up to see the hens who now have a run out into the top of the field.
Still lots of weeds to get through and one more bed to dig but we are getting there, the beds are ready as the plants are ready to go in to them.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Home Work

Yesterday was spent catching up on work at home,everything needed re potting ASAP.I spent all day up to late in the evening determined to get it finished.The tumbling pots were planted up with busy lizzie and lobelia, the big pot has cape daisy and lobelia with a bacoba, as one flowered all summer last year
The flower bed is coming into bloom, I was surprised so much survived the winter, even the peony rose has a number of blooms,lupins,blue cornflower,hosta and a bank of white aubretia no space left for weeds!
Sam has his hang dog look on for the camera!The sunshine in the background is the sun shining from the front of the house, by midday it has moved around to the back of the house and it is a sun trap.Everything needs watering each evening.

Tomatoes were all potted on, some of these are going out to the greenhouse in the allotment,there are gardeners delight,moneymaker and 100's & 1000's.There are blossom on some of the plants and I have begun a tomato feed now, while pinching out the side shoots also.
In there also are pumpkins,courgettes and cucumber, just a few of each all going out to the allotment in a week or so as soon as the nights warm up a little.
The bedroom windowsill ,these peppers are slow but with the heat of the past week have grown enough to pot on.
The peppers and dill, last year I left the dill to grow long and spindly and they never really made good plants.
There are 60 basil plants in a plug tray, we have never had any luck with basil so hoping even a few make it to adult plants!Coriander plants in the pots.
Outside hardening off are sweetcorn, only 13 left of the 16 which germinated.Derby day summer cabbage and more lettuce.
Sunflowers in the tray on the gravel
Snapdragons by the score!They were in seed trays and have proved they not only survive on neglect but actually thrive on it,my kind of plant!I searched out every plant tray I could and they have all been potted up, some have assumed weird shapes as the ones on the outside of the previous trays grew up but the ones in the middle grew around them to get air and light.
More snapdragons

These little ones are the stars as they had been discarded under the hedge as I thought they were dead but they have made small bushy plants, much hardier than the others.
I had pinched out the growing tips on some and they have new growth coming up from the base of the plant instead of one stalk.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Weeds & Watering

I uploaded these photos last night but the computer gremlins slowed it down so much I gave up so here goes with second attempt.The sun has finally arrived but the down side is watering has become very important as most plants are just starting off and seeds need moisture to germinate.I filled a wheelie bin with water one morning when I was on the allotments alone we can use this with the watering can at busy times.Most people are going out in the evenings to water and the flow slows down when a number people are using it at the same time.
The salad bed is filling up with the spring onions, lettuce and swiss chard. There is iceberg and butterhead lettuce, it is still covered with fleece at night and will be for another week at least.
The onion & carrot bed, I swear these weeds were only a couple of inches high on Thurs when I was last out! I had hoed the bed when the onions had put on some growth but then set carrot and parsnip seeds so we could not weed until they were up enough to be visible. The heat has speeded up the weed growth into jungle proportions.It does not look too bad now as Kathryn and myself have been working shifts weeding over the last two days, I will take an after pic when we finish.The carrots and parsnips have come up on the near end of the bed but at the end they have only germinated here and there, hard to figure why as the whole bed was treated exactly the same!When the weeding is done I will resow, the warm weather may help to germinate them quicker.
The garlic definitely has garlic rust, the leaves had been turning yellow at the tips which could have been frost damage.I have been cutting off any yellow leaves or parts of leaves and it has been growing fine but yesterday some of the rust spores are clearly visible on the leaves. I cut off the offending ones and will continue to water and will put down some chicken manure pellets, strong plants may be able to out grow the rust?!
The strawberries have formed on the plants now and they are finally netted against the birds.
There are lots of blueberries on two of the three bushes.The fruit bed was weeded and the wind break put in place along the path, now the fruit cage has to be put together as the blackcurrants and raspberries look to have a good covering of fruit as well.
The yard long beans are putting on some growth I think they took a stagger when they were put out in the cold but are coming on.The tops were taken off the peas, I can only think birds so that is why there is a loose piece of netting in the centre.The pot has the surplus sweet peas while I am deciding where to put them.Sinead's & Aoife's peas were also top damaged but Kevin's are being munched from the bottom,his at least got a chance to grow up the supports.

The broad beans are about 2 feet high and covered in blossom, I left off the netting to let the bees in to pollinate them.They can be heard buzzing around in the sunshine ,a less welcome visitor is the white cabbage butterfly which is looking for some where to lay their eggs and they are on the wing already.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bloom 2010

Bloom 2010 is on from Thu 3rd June to Mon 7th June and my sister Kathleen and myself are heading off again on the Friday on a girls day out, we went last year and thoroughly enjoyed the day.We wandered around but this year Kathleen has the programme and is carefully plotting our course to get in as much as possible.
Last year we wandered into tents in the middle of discussions or as a cookery demo was finishing,what we take in this year is being planned with military precision so we miss nothing!
Bloom is a great day out just to wander and take in the atmosphere as everyone is catered for, children are free and there is lots laid on to amuse and capture their imaginations.
There are celebrity chefs doing cookery demos and Darina Allen is on the day we will be there, there will be gardeners galore doing workshops and question and answer sessions.

We basked in the sunshine and sipped champagne and strawberries, grazed our way around the artisan food tent which is a fixture at Bloom.It features over 40 producers with stalls showing baked goods (I remember the cupcakes!),smoked fish, jams, chutneys, relishes,farmhouse cheeses and handmade chocolate are available to taste and buy.
All sorts of garden ornaments like these cheeky chappies in fact anything that can be put outdoors will be on display.
A new feature this year is the Bloom Inn, a drinks marquee with the best of Irish spirits, liquors and craft beers....I wonder will they be giving free samples?!
One of the gardens which featured recycling last year.There will be 25 show gardens which always attract the crowds.
Bloom is organized by Bord Bia the Irish food board, they have a Best in Season marquee with fresh food produce and information about it, last year I came home armed with recipes etc.
I am looking forward to seeing the Forgotten Skills section which is new this year.It will have info and demos on cheese making,butter churning,apple pressing and fish smoking.

If Willy Wonka had fresh fruit instead of chocolate this Keelings display would have been what he would have come up with!
It all got too much for this chap who decided to chill out on the grass near the huge entertainment stage.There is a food village also where everything from a 4 course meal to a simple sandwich can be bought and enjoyed either in the restaurant or al fresco.
Bloom is not just about flowers which do feature strongly but veg also shares the stage. There were all sorts of veg in all sorts of containers simply bringing home the message you don't need a huge area if you want to try growing your own

This is one of the displays in the marquee, I did touch because some of them were so perfect I was sure they were imitation!
Anyone travelling up from the country as we are should check with Irish Rail as we only paid 10e each way with the online cheap fares, it is only available on certain trains each day but great value.
There is a courtesy bus running both ways all day. Cross the bridge from Hueston station and keep left, the bus stop is just a couple of metres from the bridge.
Wear comfortable walking shoes as there is so much to see and do.
See Bloom programme and info here

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Greenhouse Update

To make some room at home I took out more plants to the allotment yesterday.The yard long beans, peas and sweet pea are in this bed into which I dug in some bags of compost from the bin at home.I put a short windbreak around the bed before I went home as we are still experiencing biting north easterly winds, great for keeping the volcanic ash cloud away but not much good for anything else.I read that to make sweet peas grow straight for exhibition showing to take off the tiny tendrils that the plant grows for support.They cling on to anything and usually mine twist themselves around anything close by.I will leave the tendrils on after a couple of weeks when the plants are stronger and have grown a little.In the background a bed in progress, this is the bed we have rested for nearly a year topping it up with compost and grass clippings.I also set Phacaella last year.I dug over the bed and the soil is in great condition.It has now been edged with boards and with another layer of compost will be ready for cucumbers,courgettes and pumpkins.The potatoes have been earthed up but frost may have got one or two leaves. We are still getting quite hard frost in the early mornings
The mangetout got the same tendril treatment as the sweet pea and they seem to be growing up the poles at last
Flowers on the broad beans
The walk in plastic greenhouse at home, I am glad I did not remove the bubble wrap from the inside when we had the few days of sunny weather!Gardner's delight, Moneymaker and 100's & 1000's growing OK
The sweetcorn is slow but sure and will not go out to the plot for a while yet methinks
Lettuce and Derby Day summer cabbage.The lettuce sowing is being staggered, there is lettuce planted on the plot and we are still using the winter lettuce from the unheated greenhouse on the plot. Seeds sown in the greenhouse at home are, barlotti beans,a second sowing of peas and nicotania flowers.
I have one bedroom windowsill back in service as my Spanish student has returned home.In trays here are Sunflowers, Dill,basil,Coriander,french beans,pumpkins and peppers.I am not planting too much of any of these seeds as a few strong plants will be more than enough, lesson learned over the years!

Second sowing of peppers, the first ones never germinated and these sorry looking specimens went in on 9th April, they were out in the greenhouse wrapped in bubble wrap but have now been brought back into ICU and I think they look a little perkier after a couple of days.
Thanks for the comments about the rhubarb flowers in the previous post, I will pass on the advice to the relevant owners.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Allotment Update

I spent most of today on the plot and remembered to take my camera and more importantly remembered to take some photos!I had a small harvest to bring home but anything at this time of year is welcome.Rhubarb with which I made a rhubarb and pear crumble, its like a sweet and sour desert!The lettuce is from the greenhouse and is the winter cos which is a lovely crunchy lettuce with a tight heart and some spinach leaves to add to the salad.
The salad bed, I have two lots of spring onions, the lisbon and purplette. There is an iceberg lettuce under the fleece,the name escapes me but the seeds were on a tape it is the first time I have tried this and will give an update on progress.Ruby swiss chard went in today as another plotter had too much and kindly passed on the excess to me.In the background is the garlic bed, I am still not sure if they are developing rust but I cut all of the yellowed leaves and tips off of them and they seem to be growing quite well. I soaked them today, I know garlic does not like getting its feet wet but it still needs watering in dry spells. We have had little or no serious rainfall for weeks and the ground is as dry as dust without almost daily watering.
The brassica bed now has all of its tenants in place, cauliflower,greyhound cabbage, calabrese, brussel sprouts, turnips and I put in a row burgundy spinach as well. It had to be netted immediately against the pigeon hordes.
Blossom on our Lidl bargain apple tree, this was bought at a knock down 4.99e last year by looked as if it would not survive but so far so good.

We have a local radio station which has a gardening slot on Wed and I have heard a few people wondering about flowering rhubarb.I have never seen flowers on rhubarb but it seems to be happening quite a lot this year due to the long dry spell.The plant thinks there is a drought and goes into survival mode and flowers to produce seed. I took this photo on the allotment today, I am glad to say it is not ours as I had been soaking the rhubarb as often as possible. They were just at plant height a couple of days ago but now have shot up to this height and look quite striking.I am not sure how it affects the plant in the long term or if the plant has now gone over completely.
Greenhouse update tomorrow,a lot of plants are now gone out to the allotment and space is not at a premium in there for another few weeks at least.