Tuesday, June 29, 2010


With all the tooing and froing of the last couple of weeks I have forgotten to take photos of our take home harvest which has become a daily bounty now with the warm weather.
Our first earlies, Charlotte are being dug and are blight free and unmarked, anyone who has had them has been full of praise for their taste and of course the dry weather has kept them clean skinned.They are being sprayed for blight every week and so far so good.
We have had a bumper crop of strawberries and the raspberries are just beginning to redden, hence the fruit net being put up in a hurry.
Rhubarb is growing apace, the new plants seem to be catching up with the older ones.
We are getting very excited about the Sweet corn for once it has the correct temps and is almost growing while we are looking at it!
The salad bed is producing spring onions and lettuce, we have quite a bit of lettuce staggered around the plot even on the Asparagus bed which I had to put net around as we are being over run with rabbits!
Mange Tout is prolific in producing new pods, I am not sure for just how long this will continue.
Broad beans were black fly free and a big harvest of 1 & 1/2 lbs were cut on Monday.
We are actually having to water each evening , quite the opposite to the last couple of summers when we were washed away
Some pics from home, the tumbling pots are planted up with busy lizzies and lobelia this year, both trouble free and provide a great splash of colour outside the patio door.Cheap and cheerful is the way to go!

My lilies were almost forgotten about, they had been out for a few days before I remembered to take a photo. They have grown about 3 ft high which is a bit straggly but the blooms are stunning.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Open Day & BBQ

We had a fabulous day for our open day and evening BBQ.Lots of family and friends turned up to see why we spend so much time out here!Zwena explaining the art of toasting marshmallows to the children,great credit is due to her for the excellent turn out and catering for the day.
Zwena also presented prizes for last years sunflower and pumpkin competitions and somehow managed to give prizes to nearly all of the children!
The courtyard painted and spruced up before the guests arrived.Aisling had painted all of the old farm machinery last week and Gemma had painted nice rustic looking signs,all of the painting of gates etc was done during the week by different people.Zwena likes bright colours!
The boys minding the small boys on our mini patio in front of the shed.
Some of the visitors chatting, it is also a chance for the plotters to visit each others plots and chat as we are all there at different times and may not have actually met each other for quite some time.
The hastily erected fruit cage,this year it is on bamboo canes with the plumbing fixtures creating the arched sections.It is also high enough to walk under comfortably without crouching down.
Aisling's Mum in law Ena admiring the sweet corn and carrots under the fleece.
D.Linda with her inlaws admiring the same patch!

The boys on a child friendly plot.
The girls on the patio, I think the boys are still minding the boys and have taken them off for a walk.
The BBQ and fire pit which was appreciated as the evening got cooler and it was well after 10.30 pm before we broke up.The boys had taken the smaller children home so the older ones could stay.
Zwena's son Peter who volunteered to cook for the masses is under pressure to keep the food coming!

Angela handing out some of the huge range of desserts and tarts that were brought along by various people.
Chris who with his wife Maebh had Charlie,a beautiful baby boy 10 weeks ago found time to make a big batch of scrumptious scones, rhubarb compote and served them with whipped cream, all monies donated went to Autistic charities this year.
It is raining today, quite soft rain which the ground needs as watering is never as effective, hopefully just one days rain?!
Some of our tomato plants in the greenhouse have curling on the bottom leaves, I put in a query to Gardenplans and got an immediate reply that it may be a magnesium deficiency which can be corrected with Epsom salts!I am off now to buy and treat them, I will post results

Friday, June 25, 2010

I have Been AWOL!!

I have been so busy that I have not had time to turn on my computer or TV or even read newspaper for days! Why you may well ask,
Son Billy is getting married next Friday to his partner Janice.I have the dress and shoes but I must still find a hat and bag!!
Our allotment Open Day is tomorrow Sat and it has been manic getting the plots in order ,painting etc and I have to say it does not look just ship shape but stunning! Lots of pics of that over the weekend.
Zwena was invited to feature an allotment at the forthcoming Mallow Homes and Gardens festival which also takes place next weekend. We went out and planted up beds of veg and herbs for that.
In the midst of all that I was invited to attend the launch of Peter Dowdall's first book, I went along to that on Wed night with my sister Kathleen.
I would hesitate to say it is just another gardening book because it is a very good read also. Peter has battled against and overcome cancer not once but twice in his life.He kept a journal while undergoing treatment and each chapter is prefaced with excerpts from that.He tells a little of how his illness made him appreciate nature and got him involved in building up his very successful garden centre which I featured in a previous post.
Peter at the launch of his book which is available in bookstores, the Dunsland garden Centre and online through Cork University Press.It is not just a coffee table book but has a very down to earth approach to gardening and lots of advice.There are lots of stunning photos by award winning photographer Richard Mills and our allotments feature in a few!
Charlie Wilkins did the introduction, Charlie has written numerous gardening articles over the years in newspapers.
My beautiful lily which I thought had been killed off by the severe frosts over winter.I was pleasantly surprised to see two blooms nestling in the leaves.
Lots of work has been done on the plot and we are still harvesting strawberries each day!Mange Tout peas and lettuce and spring onions have now been added to the take home bounty.
We pulled all of the garlic as the rust was travelling down the bulbs but we do have garlic drying in the shed!
I spied my first red raspberry today so the fruitcage had to be put up ASAP.The birds seem to have multiplied a hundred fold this year and are stripping anything left uncovered.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Garlic Rust

The garlic continues to be plagued by rust,I have been cutting off the affected leaves and watering diligently as it is very dry and even though they don't like having their feet wet they do require watering in very dry spells and they are under enough stress at the moment!The new green leaves shoot up only to develop the tell tale rust spores after a few days.
I went back to last years rust episode and read the advice given then,do not give a nitrogen feed of any description, spread sulphate of potash to harden up the bulbs and spray with a sulphur based fungicide.I searched the garden centres here but no sulphur based spray to be had, due to the banning of quite a lot of gardening products. I did eventually find a sulphur based powder which is shaken on to the plants and they can be harvested safely after 10 days.I read the description on the bottle which says it is for use on edible and flowering plants, hardening bulbs for storage and preventing rot.They have been treated now so what does not kill them may cure them.The cloves have begun to form on the bulbs so even 2 or 3 weeks more growth would do to harvest them.
Watch this space!
The salad bed continues to provide a harvest, the bunch sown spring onions are developing into good size onions and a bunch can be pulled together.They are being replaced with more lettuce as the warm weather has created a demand for more salads.The bed looks colourful with red and green lettuce,ruby swiss chard, beetroot,spinach and red and green spring onions.
The strawberries are bountiful this year due to the warm dry weather, and lots are ripening every day.

I had forgotten to take a photo of the calabrese before which is now setting florets, only 3 of the 6 plants survived the cabbage root fly attack.
I had thought that 3 of the 6 cauliflowers had died due to the same pest but it is actually the winter cabbage which fell foul to it!The cauliflowers are safe and well on another row in the brassica bed and growing well but I have now sown 6 more cauliflower plants so we could have a cauliflower glut if they all live to maturity!
The watering has to be done every day as the heat is on, clouds are gathering but no rain so far.I won't pray for rain after reading Pam's blog on Life on a Southern Farm

Monday, June 14, 2010


I was reading Matron's blog a couple of days ago when she warned about the gooseberry sawfly.We had a gooseberry bush the first two years on the allotment but the sawfly decimated it almost overnight and I dug it out thinking it was dead.We did not replace it last year but I put in a new one in the Spring of this year.Believe it or not I had not even thought of the sawfly until I read Matron's blog!On Sat I spent quite a few hours on the plot and thought of checking, at first glance it looked OK, green leaves in place and even a few berries.
It was only when I looked closer that I noticed all of the bottom branches were bare!I put on my glasses and discovered there were tiny green striped bugs crawling all over them, almost impossible to see against the bark.I spent ages picking every last one of them off and throwing them out on the hot gravel, hopefully to shrivel up and die.I got the hose and blasted the branches and dug out the top layer of soil to pick out a few that were crawling around there.I have not been out either Sunday or today so tomorrow morning I will have another inspection and can only hope they were the only infestation.
Sat was warm and humid and I worked on finishing the asparagus bed and some weeding.A few plotters came and weeded and chatted, this is Mark resting from his labours.
Michael chatting to his neighbour, about the weeding they were going to do?!
The finished Asparagus bed. I had removed the older small bed and extended it during the week, it is now about 10 feet x 4 feet and houses 10 plants.I had to move 2 plants, one of which had a spear growing to seed and after 2 days it still looked healthy and showed no distress after being moved.I had bought the original 3 plants in Dunsland garden centre about 4 years ago as 1 year old plants.I went back hoping to get more and bought 4 which are in their third year.They were 5.95e each which is very reasonable considering I should have some edible spears next year from them. I intended putting them down the centre of the bed but decided to stagger them and had enough room for three more which I bought on Sat morning when I went back with the camera.All of the plants had 4 or 5 spears growing up into ferns.I lined the base of the bed with well rotted manure and soaked it before putting in the plants.
Roll on next year!
Ger took on watering duties, after doing his own he began watering Angela's and Peter's plot.Ger had put in some celeriac plants on his plot and when I saw them for sale in Dunsland I decided to try a few. I have tasted it before and while I would not eat it as a veg it is delicious added to mashed potatoes and soup. I am sure the internet will yield a few recipes if it comes to harvesting it!

Moi!!Without makeup and after spending a few warm hours on the plot.Mark who is an experienced photographer was giving me some tips on using the shutter speed etc. I said one thing at a time and he explained the rule of 'thirds' to me. I am not sure how much of it I actually remember but will try to use something else besides the 'idiot' setting and the other automatic settings which is what I am inclined to do.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Dunsland Walled Garden

I went to Dunsland garden centre yesterday for my Asparagus plants and returned this morning for 3 more and with my camera.I had seen the old walled kitchen garden yesterday and today asked for permission to take some photos.
Dunsland is a big garden centre on the eastern side of the city, it overlooks the harbour and is a big old rambling area. It is a great place to browse and look because no matter how many people are there it is never crowded and the owner Peter Dowdall is nearly always on hand with advice. I took lots of photos so they will have very short captions!
The entrance is through the shop.

The old walled kitchen garden is in the process of being restored and it is stunning even in the middle of construction!Old and new live side by side, this is an old cold frame which now houses the cucumbers, pumpkins etc.
Rhubarb makes a statement in raised beds as a border
Tiered beds with peas and salad crops against the old wall.
Caned archway between beds ( very copyable)!
Circular raised bed with sweetcorn,onions and salad crops among the flowers
Pots and containers of all shapes and sizes
These boots were made for planting!
This is a shaded area with a mirror in the wall under the ivy reflecting the small pond. This was made a number of years ago in conjunction with a TV programme if I remember correctly.Peter has also assisted the Ground Force team when they were in Ireland.
Part of the old Victorian greenhouse railed off.I asked what the arches were and it was how they heated the greenhouse way back. Turf or manure was packed into these spaces to generate heat above
Square yard planting with a difference, marigolds mark out the beds instead of box hedging or timber
Simple composter of netted wire and poles in the centre of this raised bed.
Italian look to this part of the garden. Old walls have been reused where possible
I wonder what tales these antique garden seats could tell of croquet on the lawn and moonlight trysts?!
Green lamp posts, topairy reaching for the sky
After wandering around I made my way back to the shop where these beautiful baskets were on sale
Some of the produce on sale.
An old dog basking in the sunshine, Sam is 14 and arthritic.A lovely lady called Jay serves a 'dacent' cup of tea and scones and you can sit out in the sunshine and wonder will you go back and buy that plant you wanted.An old Clematis Montana is ready to burst into bloom. Nothing here is shaved and tidied but allowed to grow naturally over walls and buildings.
The decking area and you can just see the 'Potty' sheds in the background.

Overlooking the garden centre is this old tower, known as Fr Matthew's Tower.It has been renovated and is now a stately residence.It is a landmark on the eastern side of the city.
Dunsland now host a farmer's market once a month and sells the produce from the garden with plant sales etc.There are lots of plans for the future to make it even more attractive as a garden centre and a great day out.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Plot Catch Up

Work has been ongoing on the plot with Kathryn & Gemma weeding and going up each evening to water the tomato plants in the greenhouse.
Harvest while not huge is getting more colourful!
Yesterday I brought home a garlic bulb, garlic rust is still appearing but I am religiously cutting infected leaves off and it continues to grow even though it looks like bamboo canes stuck into the soil with a topping of new green leaves.I have not used this yet but there is no sign of rust down the bulb.
Some mange tout and the strawberries are ripening fast, I had these in a carton of Greek yogurt. Some of the bunch sown spring onions and a handful of baby spinach leaves and chard for a salad.The last few of the radishes and for the moment I cannot find my packet of seed to grow more!
The dwarf beans took us by surprise as the flowers are still in bloom so I was not expecting to see beans as yet but they are growing up from the bottom of the plants.
I investigated the peas under the netting wondering why they were not growing but found they had grown around each other under the netting. I removed the netting and tied them up to the poles, they looked as if they had grown 2 feet in a half an hour! I made a second bird scarer with a potato and feathers, there are only 2 as the one on the right of photo is the shadow on the shed.They look quite effective as the bamboo sways in the breeze and the feathers move also.
The pea and bean bed,there is only one row of peas and the heads were picked off by birds before I netted them.I have enough for a second row at home ready to out over the weekend.There are 2 rows of yard long beans, one row is forging ahead as it is sheltered in the centre,but the other one which is on the outside is slower.
A lot of construction has been going on too with new beds and more paths covered in bark mulch.To the left of the photo is the pumpkin bed with courgettes and sunflowers.Behind that at right angles is the new asparagus bed.
We had 3 asparagus plants in a small bed which produced beautiful spears but never enough!I made the bed longer and narrower and moved 2 plants to accommodate the arrangement.It may not be the right time but its done now!
On the right is the salad bed with the garlic in the centre bed and brassicas to the end, we have only 2 of 6 cauliflower left thanks to the cabbage root fly.
The sweetcorn has taken off but 2 plants are still small due I think to the fact I ran out of windbreak for about 18 ins and these plants are there near the gap.
View across the plot,it was late evening and the shadows are moving across.The bed under the mesh has 5 rows of carrots of different varieties.

This evening at home I tackled the greenhouse.There are 9 plants in all in here of Moneymaker and Gardeners delight. They have all set a second truss and they needed moving to their final position ASAP. They have now been moved down to ground level,canes will be purchased tomorrow to stake them. I removed all of the bubble wrap from around the inside as hopefully there is no more danger of frost.It was amazing to see how much light the bubble wrap actually blocked.Everything else has been unceremoniously put outside to harden off, including 8 of the 100's and 1000's tomato plants and the dill and coriander plants.