Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lilac Time

Coming out of the allotments today I stopped to pick a bunch of lilacs which are growing wild.There are lilac bushes in full bloom everywhere as this year they have not had to contend with wind and rain and are enjoying the sunshine.They are in my porch and filling it with their heady scent.
My next door neighbour on the plot, Angela, taking a break from painting the shed.The last few days have been in the 20's and it is better than a foreign holiday pottering in the sunshine.
Kevin and myself spent hours out there again,it really is a time warp where the hours fly by.The major job on today's agenda was making a new cage for the brassicas.The yard long beans have given up the ghost at this point so I took most of the bamboo canes and they will have to scramble up whats left as best they can, thats if they decide to grow anymore.
This is the brassica bed under the old netting, the brussel sprouts were bending over as it was way too tight.
New high rise brassica netting on bent bamboo canes.The cauliflower are a lost cause, they only grew a few inches and they have produced tiny heads.They remind me of the head hunters exhibition in Ripley's museum in NY! I pulled them out and gave the whole bed a soaking with the rhubarb tea.While the netting was off Kevin was on sentry duty in case any white butterflies ventured near.There were dozens of them flitting about.
A wasp's nest in a raspberry bush on one of the plots!It is an exquisite construction balancing between the branches. I did not tarry too long taking the photo in case there were any look outs posted!The wasps enter through a tiny hole in the bottome of the nest, you can just see it on the bottom right and one wasp was just flying in.
Harvest today, 3 turnips to thin out the row a little, some potatoes which are from the bed that got blight but these are OK.The rhubarb is to make Rhubarb chutney which I read about on Nic's blog Nip it in the Bud last night.We have abundant rhubarb and I am dying to try this with it.
I earthed up the leeks which are growing well, fed and soaked the pumpkin bed and studiously ignored 2 more courgettes which had put on a growth spurt since yesterday, Kathryn will be back from holidays tomorrow and she can deal with them!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Another Sunny Day on the PLot

Kevin volunteered to come out to the plot with me today,it was misting rain as we left home but the sun had come out by the time we got to the allotment.Kevin filling pots for the strawberry runners, as the strawberries were on the work list for today.
Some flowers on the plot first, this is borage which I grew from seed last year but I pulled most of it up as it was a bit of a thug taking up too much room. It is great for attracting bees and is a good companion plant to have in an out of the way area.It has reseeded around the plot, this is one I have left to grow.
Nasturtiums from last year also reseeded around the plots, this one is a lovely delicate colour on the pumpkin bed.The original ones were red and orange but this one seems undecided which colour to go for.
The bees were out before us today but not as many as yesterday, as it was a little cooler and earlier.This bunch was cut from just one plant and it is now in a pillow case in my wardrobe to dry out.I used rubber bands to hold the bunch instead of string or raffia as the rubber band will tighten as the bunch dries.The sweet peas are in a jug on the windowsill.
The strawberry plants had all of this years leaves taken off to allow new growth before the winter sets in.There were tiny green leaves smothered in the centres, all of the runners which I did not want were also removed. I took one runner from each plant as they are promised to another gardener.There was a lot of brown dry leaves since last year because I was not aware the old growth should be cleared.The runners are pinned into the pots to allow them to root, they are still attached to the parent plant for a couple of weeks.
Feast your eyes on carrots!!These are the thinnings from the carrot bed! They have been growing under the enviromesh which allows light and water to pass through.After yesterdays disastrous carrot tale I thought I should check these in case they were all leaves.I removed only a section of the fleece at a time in case the dreaded fly was around.I began thinning them by pulling out the smaller ones then I thought it would make more sense to pull the bigger ones and allow the smaller ones to grow on and extend the season a little.
Carrots under the enviromesh, the way to go with carrots. These were put in much later than the ones on the onion bed but have grown quicker and taller so the secret must be in the mesh protection.
More cobs forming on the sweet corn which is going to be a good crop. It is getting lots of attention as it is the best sweetcorn anyone has seen on the allotments.Lots of organic compost was added to the bed first and it has had a few seaweed feeds as it does not like animal manure too much.
Greenhouse tomatoes, these are big boy beef steak. There are not a lot of them as it is only one plant.
Money maker, I had to make a support for this truss as it was on the ground
Gardeners delight are prolific.
Kevin brought home his onions today and some oak leaved lettuce and lollo rosso which he loves.Kevin spent the day exploring, helping Zwena,weeding etc, he was engrossed in making a slug trap when I told him it was time to go home... at 4.00pm.He wanted to finish his task and wanted to know why we were going home early!
Yesterdays courgette cake with their cream cheese frosting, grated courgette and some mint leaves for decoration.

Yesterdays harvest became todays roasted veg for dinner.The smell around the kitchen while it was cooking was divine and they tasted as good!What I thought were yellow courgettes are actually pumpkins which can be used while small and tender or allowed to grow on to larger pumpkins and stored over the winter.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bumper Harvest!

First I must explain the blog change!I returned to my blog after a lapse of a few days to find my background had disappeared and a floating box saying this video had been removed by Photobucket.I am not a member of Photobucket so thought it was a computer glitch which would rectify itself, not so!I visited Lynda's blog to find the same floaty box and Lynda has gone to the trouble of investigating.I had got my background from Cutest Blog on the Block who it seems have now removed this background and anyone who had this or other removed backgrounds had the same problem.I got a background from Blogger but the background picture refused to stay and reverted to black after a couple of seconds so now I have this one ,also from Blogger but so far so good!
I was able to spend most of today on the plot as I have no children this week, I weeded and watered and planted 3 short rows of swede turnips for the winter. Lots of delicious things to harvest but I had to bring them home to photograph as I had forgotten to take my camera.
Green and yellow courgettes,peas 100grms from 25 pods,dwarf french beans,I was delighted to see some of the tomatoes are actually ripening!Just 6 (2 were tasted immediately)the tiny ones are 100's & 1000's which should actually be sown in baskets as they have a trailing habit.The last of the raspberries and the first of the blueberries. 1 lb of blackcurrants from just two short branches,we will have to pick all of them ASAP as they are falling from the bush to the ground.
I pulled one of the swede turnips, not of EU regulation size but should be tasty added to roasted veg tomorrow.
The first parsnips of which about 6 germinated have huge leaves which are covering the later sown ones. I was wondering if there was anything actually under these leaves and pulled this one to check.They are growing long and straight and if they should be left in the ground until the first frost they will be way too big! Another addition to the roasted veg.
These 3 came from the same bed,we had planted the carrots in with the onions to deter the carrot fly and also planted one row of parsnips.The onions and parsnips thrived but the carrots are a disaster!They got the same treatment and this is the result,any ideas?
No self respecting carrot fly would even consider them!

Some baking and jam making ensued tonight, blackcurrant jam, I am going to look up some blackcurrant recipes and ideas online as it seems a shame to just make jam from all of them.
Blueberry muffins, there were 12 but 2 had to go the the tester (me).I love the way the blueberries burst open when baked. Lots of muffin recipes on Lynda's blog just type in muffin recipes in the search box on the blog and you will be spoiled for choice!
Courgette loaves, I made these from Angela's Courgette cake recipe but as I didn't have a 9" cake tin I divided the mixture between 2 loaf tins and they turned out fine. They will be frosted tomorrow with a cream cheese topping all of which can be found here I also have a recipe for courgette soup from Angela which I made last year and it uses 900grms of courgettes so that will account for a few of them.
I had intended to cut all of the lavender today and bring it home to dry it but there seemed to be hundreds of bees busy gathering nectar and I did not go near them. If anyone in the Tower/Blarney area has bees maybe they would contact me to arrange a mutual time to curfew them or does anyone know what time they start in the morning or finish in the evening?!

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Wonderful Weekend!

What a weekend!I met Matron on Friday in Cobh on a stop over from a British Isles cruise.The Queen Victoria came into Cobh which was once named Queenstown in her honour.Cobh was the last port of call for the ill fated Titanic.
I will just give very short comments as the pics will tell the tale (s)
I got an unusual pic of the liner, the tiny tug busy tying up the ropes to keep the ship at the deepwater quay and the Brittany Ferries ship the Pont Aven passing by on her way to dock at the ferryport in Ringaskiddy.
I met matron and we set off for Blarney Castle on the outskirts of Cork City.This is the famous stone,which is a lintel stone high above the ground.The attendant holds the victim while they lie down and reach out backwards to kiss the stone,Matron did but I didn't!

We strolled around the spacious grounds of mature woodlands, this area is known as the Rock Close but my children always called it the Witch's garden! It is full of ferns and stone formations including Wishing steps and witches kitchen! Matron is studying the Dolmen which is reputed to shift from time to time!The rain jackets had to be donned as there was a light mist falling while we were there.
We continued to the allotments and a quick visit to Cork City before returning To Cobh.

On Sat night I was at my niece Claire's 21st birthday party.Great night had by all!
The cake had to be photographed, it was so pretty and unusual .It is a replica make up bag complete with make up bottles etc made from sugar icing!

Sunday we had a family BBQ in blazing sunshine in Robert's Cove, Rob was only one chef.....
for many....
...many mouths!
Sunday night it was dancing in Clonmore Co Tipperary to Finbarr Dennehy

The place was packed to capacity and people danced the night away!
I will have time to read up on all the blogs I have missed out on later on this evening, I will also post more pics with more info the relevant links.

Footnote, I had not been on my blog all weekend and when I did go on today I noticed my background had disappeared and I had a 'floaty' text box referring to Photobucket.I thought it was merely a glitch until just now when I read on Lynda's blog that she has exactly the same thing!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Between the Showers

The rain cleared last evening for a few hours and this was the sky last night as the sun went down.Red sky at night is a good omen but the angry clouds hovering?!
There was sunshine this morning and I went out to the plot to see how things had progressed or not.I had barely landed when the heavens opened and had to shelter in the shed for about 20 mins while it poured down.It cleared and the sun came out, I dug up some of the potatoes, these are still from the first and second early bed.They are a good size, some stalks have only 3 or 4 potatoes while others could have up to 8 fine size ones.Oak leaved lettuce red and green and spring onions and yes we are using our garlic which is perfect despite the onset of the garlic rust.
One of the courgettes plants which seem to love the wet humid weather.This is one Kathryn put in so I don't know what type it is!
Our sweet corn is romping away, again this humid wet weather seems to suit it but once the cobs appear we will need some sunshine as well.
Two of the plants have these tassels forming so I would think ( hope )they are setting cobs.
I pulled all of the onions today but left them on the ground until I can make some kind of a rack for drying.These are Centurion onions and are all a good size.
Definitely a courgette plant, I have only seen the courgette nestling under the leaves now, it will be marrow sized by the time I get out again!

Tomatoes in the greenhouse, some of the trusses are dipping down with the weight of the fruit on them.They are gardener's delight and moneymaker on this side.
Today was bright and sunny for the most part but tomorrow's forecast is dire to say the least but then it is supposed to improve for the weekend.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

St Swithin


St. Swithin's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair


St Swithin's day is July 15th ,St Swithin was a 9th century Saxon ( English) Bishop of the famous Winchester Cathedral.When he died he asked to be buried outside the church, when the church was renovated about 100 years later his remains were brought inside and since then if it rains on that day it is believed it will rain for the next 40 days and guess what it rained here last Thursday!
I have been kept busy all this week and have not been on the plot since Tuesday.Kathryn has been watering the greenhouse plants and reported blight has definitely arrived on the second potato bed. Kathryn cut down the stalks on the worst affected plants digging up one to check the tubers, the potatoes were a good size but discoloured to a grey/brown shade.They have been sprayed religiously every week since the end of May.
I am painting my sitting room which has not been updated for about 6 years, so all paintwork from ceiling to skirting boards needs attention!It has to be fitted in between minding the two girls and two students one of whom returned home to Italy this morning which necessitated getting up at 3.00am to catch her early morning flight!
Jack had his first birthday party this afternoon and big brother Scott will have his second birthday in 2 weeks so for 2 weeks of the year they are essentially the same age!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sunshine!

The sun shone here in the south for most of the day and it was back to warmth and some work on the plot.
The peas are coming along and setting lots of pods but to my surprise some of the lower ones had been chomped despite wire netting around the bed.When we walked on to the plot a rabbit ran from between the lavender and pea bed but I thought they could not get at the peas?!I had to put more netting over the lower one to prevent anymore incursions.
Some of the snowball onions drying, these were about 10 that Michael had given me earlier in the year to try out.
The second row of netting around the peas, I had to adjust the colour of some photos as the sun was so bright at this time of the day!
Our lavender is nearly ready to cut, the bees are colonising it at the moment and anyone who passes takes a blossom to smell!
The main onion bed. I bent over the stalks as it seems to be the done thing but I am not too sure of the benefits of it?!The onions on this bed are all good sized bulbs now and hopefully the weather will be dry enough to allow them to dry properly.

The new bright green growth on the yard long beans, they had stayed at the level of the lower darker green leaves for ages and then last week decided to sprout upwards!
The girls picked the last of their mange tout,strawberries and lettuce and generally tidied up their beds which still have carrots,parsnips and they also bent over their onions.
I cut down the foliage of the dwarf green beans and added it to our compost heap leaving the roots in the ground, I wondered should I loosen them as they could sprout again, any ideas?
I picked the last few strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants and made Matron's Summer Pudding which is setting in the fridge for another few hours.