Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back to the Blog

Hi,sorry for the long absense from the blog and thank you all for leaving comments.
I have been busy and my computer was not turned on for days at a time.The allotment has kept me busy most days and the evenings were spent blanching, freezing,baking and jam making!
We have 2 nice pumpkins on the White Ghost plant.

I discovered blackberries hiding under branches when I tidied up the fruit bed, just enough to add to the morning cereal.

I was loud in my praise of cabbage collars recently and the proof is here to see!Two of the 7 plants which are coming on nicely had dead snails on the collars. They are impregnated with a slug deterrent which seems to be working.

The autumn fruiting raspberries, hard to see properly through the netting but there are a good many of them ripening .

Blueberries are ripe and juicy, these photos were taken before I cleaned up the bed and cut back the summer raspberry canes.

The lower branches of the blackcurrant bush were touching the ground so I cut off 6 of the lowest ones.They are much easier to strip the fruit off while standing straight!A fifth of the branches should be pruned each year and this is one way of doing it!

I paid my first visit west of the river Shannon and went to beautiful Connemara.Mountains,bogs and sheep surrounded us on all sides.
We woke up on the Sat morning to find a sheep market in full swing behind our hotel!

That was not our last encounter with the sheep, here they are being herded along the main road.Guess who gets right of way?!

Photo taken through my car windscreen as they decided to cross to my side of the road.
We visited the sheep and wool shop and museum in Leenaun and watched wool being carded, spun and wound from scratch. I was surprised to be told none of our sheeps wool is used for wool production as it is too rough!
The Aran islands, famed for their sweaters from Bainin wool no longer use home grown wool, it is mixed with imported Merino if it is used at all.
Wool was the major reason to keep sheep in the past but now the meat is the first consideration.
Our wool is exported to China and comes back to us as fibre glass and attic insulation!

The Connemara horse show was on the weekend we were there, the show was run on the Wed and Thurs and only the mart/auction was in progres when we visited.
It was fascinating none the less, with buyers from around the world.Buyers came from Australia, Canada, and most of Europe.The tough little Connemara is used for pony trekking around Ayers Rock in Australia.

All colours and hair styles!I am not sure if it is au natural or not!

Beautiful Kylemore Abbey, built by the Mitchell Henry family and in latter years an exclusive boarding school.Visit their website to read the story of the history of the Abbey both romantic and tragic.

The road to Maam Cross between the Maam mountains and bog as far as the eye can see.

The Quiet Man starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara was filmed around this area and parts of the films location can be seen, we were pleasantly surprised to find a replica cottage on the hotel grounds.

The Aran Islands in Galway Bay from the beach in Spiddal.There is now a ferry and
flights to the islands but up to recent years Islanders had to row over from the mainland.
Another event which kept me busy was being part of a committee which organized a benefit night of dancing which was a huge success, it is amazing to see that even in the middle of a recession people are so generous and supportive.
A friend's husband is going to Boston for major surgery for cancer, his operation is scheduled for Aug 30th in Boston as it is the only place where it can be carried out,he has to travel with his wife and they have to stay for at least 6 weeks in total.The medical bills will be covered by insurance and the health service but they have to pay all of their living expenses and flights themselves.
Please keep him in your prayers and thoughts on the 30th.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Another day on the plot

I went out to the plot today to plant some winter cabbage and lollo rosso which was growing at home in seed trays.
I had also planted seeds of kale and transplanted 6 healthy seedlings into a larger tray as 6 was more than enough for us. They were growing into nice healthy plants until a couple of days ago ,when I checked them one morning the kale had simply disappeared overnight!
Our courgettes are very slow growing this year and a glut of them is not likely either.There were 2 nice ones yesterday and today they had been nibbled by something!

I planted out 3x Golden acre cabbages and 4x Wheeler's Imperial in one of the onion beds which Kathryn had cleared.After I had taken the photo, they had cabbage collars put in place, against the cabbage root fly, netting against the rabbits and pigeons and slug blocker against the slugs,am I missing anything?!

No ,not a mummy ,lollo rosso lettuce plants in the vacated broad bean bed.I put the fleece over them to keep some heat in and the slug blocker as well.
The crimson flowered broad beans are in the other half of the bed for another while.

Look closely and see the rabbit just at the top of the bed, he had actually been in the bed inside the netting!

There he goes running....

Then he just sat there as if to say, hold on a minute I live here!
I was coming home about 5.00pm but then started on the brassica bed.I weeded and pulled all of the yellowed leaves from the broccoli and cut all of the side shoots. I gave them a feed of comfrey tea and hopefully we will have some more side shoots coming on.
I carried on and weeded the white turnips and the remaining 4 heads of the greyhound cabbage also pulling the lower and yellowed leaves from them.The slugs will have to jump to get on them now!
We are not great cabbage eaters but it is nice to have one occasionally.
Harvest coming home today,potatoes, broccoli, white turnips,beetroot,french beans, peas and 2 globe artichokes for tonights TV snack.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tidying up the Plot

We seem to be getting every second day dry with some sunshine then a day of continuous rain.I spent most of Tues on the plot tidying up and doing some serious weeding!
Photo is of an Iris, I bought a pack of summer flowering bulbs in Lidl some time back but so far they have been all Irises.

Kathryn had dug over some of the potato bed which had been vacated and I put in the winter leeks. These were in a tray at home and I have to say they are the smallest leeks I have ever planted out, hopefully they will come on now they are in their permanent bed.

The Lazy Housewife bean has recovered from its hen ordeal and there are 2 pods on it so far, I am not going to use them but save them for next year's seed. They were given to me by Matron when she visited Cork last year, I did see on her blog that they should be left to dry on the plant to prevent mould.

Peas, sadly neglected by us!I should have put more raffia up the poles as they grew as they had twined around each other for support.The birds had pecked at about 20 pods which had to be discarded, after I took the photo I put up more raffia supports and covered the entire frame with netting to deter the birds.There is a good crop coming on which I intend to have for me not our feathered friends!

Sweetcorn bed, half weeded, I did finish it off later! The corn is very small this year in comparison to last years bumper crop which grew to about 5 feet tall with up to 4 good size cobs on each.
This year there are only 2 on most of them and none on some!

The tomatoes in the greenhouse are slow to ripen, during the few sunny days we did have the yellow ones were doing fine but no sign of any red ones as yet.I don't think we will be making pasta sauces this year to use them up.
We also have cucumbers and aubergines in the greenhouse, we have had a couple of small mishapen cukes but nothing on the aubergine as yet though it is flowering.

Kathryn cleared the onion beds and hung them in the greenhouse to dry off as the wet weather may not have done them any good, the entire crop is small as it is.

Our broccoli (calabrese)is producing lots of side shoots after the main heads were used.The damp warm conditions seem to suit this at least!

Rosie's onion trees,a novel method of drying the onions! They look like miniature palm trees.

I cleared all of the broad beans, just leaving the crimson flowered ones in place.This pile of shells produced just this....
1 and a half kilos of shelled beans, with sore fingers as an added bonus!

I blanched them in salted water for a few minutes THEN shelled them again as I prefer them without their overcoats.I ended up with 3x 400grm bags and 2 x200grm bags for the freezer.
Jam making has also been on the agenda and I will post about that soon while visiting all my blogging friends who have also been neglected somewhat over the last couple of weeks.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Not Blogging but....

I have taken quite a long break from blogging but we have been busy over the last couple of weeks!
My gardeners took off to spend time on a boat on the Liverpool Leeds Canal negotiating 5 stair locks etc and had a whale of a time!

I took off to Robert's Cove and spent time treating the deck,badly overdue!I took my time and got a nice suntan as a bonus,I read books and generally chilled out.
D.Aisling was on hen duty while I was away and when I got back G.son Scott has now decided my name is Nana Chickens!
My time on the computer was short and spent setting up an Etsy shop!
I made some Lavender wands and hearts and they are for sale there, more items to be added later.I need to spend some more time dickying it up a bit.

We had G.son Scott's 3rd birthday with a BBQ in Robert's Cove

We had G.son Jack's 2nd birthday (Scott's brother)

Last but not least niece Catherine has written another book which is again self printed by her and available on Amazon.Catherine has also written a self help book about the process of self printing and it is also for sale on Amazon and getting 5* reviews, all information is on her blog.Anyone ever thinking of writing a book and wanting to go down the self printing route will find a mine of information on the pit falls and advice on how to get around them!

Allotment, potatoes,cabbage,onions,cucumbers, broad beans,courgettes all harvesting.We are officially in a Broccolli (calabrese)glut, even the side shoots are growing apace!