Saturday, December 22, 2012

Plotting for Christmas

 I went out to the plot today, it was bleak, windy and wet and I was the only one there! I gathered most of the sprouts and some of our Rosemary.The sprouts were divided up between 3 houses for Christmas dinner and there are still quite a few left on 5 plants that are producing.
Rosemary is going wild as I keep forgetting it is there! Garlic and Rosemary roasties for dinner.
The carrots in the barrel did not make the grade for dinner, lots of green growth but minuscule carrots!I think I should have brought the barrel home to be close to hand for watering regularly.We have a bit  of upheaval coming up with the plot in the New year, explanations later!

 Some Christmas preparation at home, cranberry sauce made last night. I am not a lover of Cranberry sauce on my turkey but like it as more of a chutney!

Christmas cake iced, the 2 halves are D. Michelle's who divides a cake between 2 people who just like a little 'taste' of Christmas cake.The cake was almond iced then cut in 2 halves and iced and wrapped separately

D. Michelle and myself also visited Copenhagan for a Christmas Weekend, it was beautiful! The Danish fairytale capital of Hans Christian Anderson.
I would like to wish each and everyone of you a very Happy and Peaceful Christmas and New Year

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Gardening Gift

Sometime ago ( about 2 years ago ) I mentioned we had a real live author visit us on the allotment. Fionnuala Fallon is a well known gardening writer who has written a long running gardening column in the Irish Times.The fabulous walled victorian garden in the Ashdown estate in Dublins Phoenix Park  was the subject of the column 'The Urban Farmer'.
Fionnuala has now published her book 'From the Ground Up'.
The book is not your common or garden (excuse the pun) gardening book.There are 15 chapters and each one is a story about a particular gardener(s) growing in a very different environment.
Some have overcome huge problems such as boggy ground, growing near the sea etc.
Most gardening books are a list of what to do and when, this book can be read as a book of short stories, there are gems of information scattered throughout and what you learn along the way can be put to good use whether you have a balcony as in Eight Square Metres where a young couple grow their own on the balcony of their apartment in the middle of Dublin or someone like Madeline McKeever who came to West Cork many years ago to run a small dairy farm but who is now the very successful owner of 'Brown Envelope Seeds' she didn't give up just took a step sideways and carried on.

We are featured on our allotment, there are community gardens, organically certified gardens, two young lads who grow monster pumpkins in Co Leitrim and lots more engrossing stories for gardeners and even someone who just has a window box will find this book enthralling to read from cover to cover or just dip into chapter by chapter over time.
Its a beautifully presented book, hard cover and with lots of photographs as Fionnuala's husband Richard is a professional photographer.Its available to buy in all bookshops and on Amazon.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I have'nt felt the need to post so soon for a while! While online looking at a website I followed a link to a blog which sounded as if it was garden related,sure enough it was and it is Irish! I suppose I have become a little disillusioned with the lack of fellow garden bloggers in Ireland to exchange ideas and /or advice, apart from one or two, garden bloggers seemed to be rather thin on the ground (pardon the pun)!
 This particular post is amazing as it highlights food waste particularly and an amazing event coming up to bring it home to people, read and enjoy!
Irish food/garden blogger

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Spammed Off!

 Hello from a very spammed off Blogger! Despite sending a captcha feedback complaint to Blogger over a month ago I still have not gotten any feedback from them?! I have been otherwise busy...we had a  marvelous day in Co Kilkenny on 27th Oct to commemorate my grand uncle Michael who died in France towards the end of WW1. I have already covered his story and our efforts to trace him online here
In beautiful autumn sunshine  we had a very simple and moving ceremony attended by more than 40 extended family and friends, members of the American Legion in Ireland led by Retired master Sargent Ron Howko. My son Kevin who was home on leave from serving with a European mission received the folded Stars and Stripes
 Michael K.Holmes with the photo of the  memorial tablet which was sent by the American Government and now adorns his parents grave, Michael's remains were never recovered and only his name is recorded on the wall of the Missing in the Meuse Argonne American cemetery in France

Taps was played and final prayers were said and we as a family remembered him and the family who had never seen him again once he left for a new life in the USA

I started making and selling hot water bottle covers on  a FB page, doing very well!

  New grand daughter was born, now just 5 days old. Heidi Charlotte with her Mom

Heidi with her 3 big brothers who are all in awe of this bundle of pink in their midst!

Lastly I attended a work shop on Annie Sloan Chalk paints and thoroughly enjoyed it. We need some colour in  our lives in this ongoing recession!
I have had to reinstate word verification much to my disgust but I have been deleting up to 50 spam comments a day! It got to the point I could hardly face opening my own blog, so hopefully things will settle down in that dept but I am still being blocked leaving comments on other  blogs if they have word verification, there seems to be no way around it. I have down loaded Google Chrome and am using it as my default browser thinking it might make a difference but no!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Some Housekeeping


Firstly let me congratulate Matron for winning 4th prize for her Giant Pumpkin! First time entering a competition and winning a very decent prize indeed.Pop over and visit matron's blog to read all about it.

.Secondly, in relation to my recent problems with word verification and removing same from my blog....every day I have to delete comments from Spammers.They seem to just read the legend Word verification free blog and think they can leave weird comments advertising some really weird websites?! Wasting your time Spammers, all comments remain unpublished until I approve them! That is plain English and easily understood not like some of the archaic pidgin English I have come across in these comments.            Anyway....some short time spent on the allotment as it has gotten cold and wet again and the evenings have really drawn in early, the herbaceous bed is going to be just that, I redug it yet again and planted 6 off shoots of our Globe Artichokes along its length. Maybe a bit much but they may not all survive the winter and if they do then we can leave some go to seed for ornamentation. I put in about 2 dozen mixed daffodil bulbs and moved over a few of the miniature Dianthus.It makes a huge difference to this side of the plot as it was wild and overgrown

Our over wintering onions have put in an appearance, this is just one photographed through the netting keeping the birds/rabbits etc off. They grow a little and root before the weather gets really cold then the plan Spring as soon as the ground warms up they are already settled and make a spurt of growth before the Spring sown onions take off. I don't think they are meant for storing but to fill the gap until the main crop onions are ready.I have succumbed to the garlic bug again and purchased a couple of bulbs but the weather has changed now and I may not get them in, in time. Garlic needs a cold snap to grow but working in a cold snap is not my idea of fun!

 Some late colour on the allotment, not ours I must admit but they brighten up the place especially if any bit of sunshine breaks through.The last Rose of Summer!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Still Plotting

I collected Aoife from school and we went to the allotment, while Aoife did her homework in the tea room I did some quiet digging as it was a beautiful sunny afternoon. We are having a lovely Autumn at least but it gets chilly about 4.30 pm. I had turned over the ground here last week intending to cover it with  weed suppressant and move the rooted Globe artichokes over here.Now I am thinking I may turn it into a type of herbaceous bed with the G.A and lots of flowers for colour. This bed runs along the pathway between our plot and Angela & Peter's. We don't need a fence between us but a nice useful flower bed would be good.

Some flowers still blooming on the allotment.These are Dianthus ( Sweet Williams) they are tiny but I don't remember any label on them saying miniature?!They have flowered all summer and continue to brighten the bed.

Another aubergine on one of our 3 grafted plants, we have never had any success with these before but they have produced nice sized plants about 4 to 5 ins long, each plant has given us approx 4 so far and as you can see there are still a few to go.
The grafted midi cucumbers are the star of the show as they continue to produce fruit.These are clustered at the very top of a plant, we had 3 in total.They are a nice firm cucumber with a mild taste.

Our 3 pepper plants did not do so well, there was 1 pepper on each of 2 plants the 3rd one did nothing.This looks  lovely but on closer inspection on the other side is a hole where it looks as if something bored into it.The pepper on the other plant had a similar fate, so no home grown peppers for us.

.The tomatoes were a mixed bag but as I have said before it was not a good year to trial tomatoes in Ireland especially in a cold greenhouse. They did produce quite a lot of fruit but were late which is probably why we have such a lot of green tomatoes at this time of year. The Elegance produced evenly sized fruit to a good size and we have had quite a lot of them.They did not all ripen together which is probably a good thing!The vines will have to be cleared soon as frost is very likely with our sunny days and cold nights.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Brussel Sprouts

I could not think of an attention grabbing title for this post so calling a spade a spade this is simply about Brussels Sprouts, love 'em or hate 'em. We grow them every year usually quite successfully but this year growth has been slow and we have 6 plants at varying degrees of growth even though they all went in the same day! Three plants went to seed so were brought home for the hens to enjoy.
   The netting which they were under was too short as they were growing up against it, apart from making the taller ones bend over the white butterflies could still lay their eggs on the leaves. I don't know how late in the season they stop but they are still very visible around our plots.
    The fruit cage is no longer needed so the canes and netting were recycled for the sprouts. I had to put some support canes in place for a few which were bending, topped with empty yogurt bottles to avoid getting our eyes poked if we are in the cage.There are embryo sprouts on the stalks so tidying up the bed and weeding might give them a boost.
  I also put in 6 small plants just visible in the foreground, these were donated by Christy one of our allotment colleagues.Christy grows all of his produce from seed and had these left over a couple of weeks ago, he asked me if I wanted them but they languished in the pot until last Tues when I picked the best 6 as slugs had got to them before me. The ones Christy had set in  his plot two weeks ago are growing and are much bigger than the ones left in the pot, so fingers crossed the winter veg will do better than the summer veg.The newer plants will hopefully provide a succession of sprouts after all they are not just for Christmas!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

More Random Summer Memories

We grew beetroot which did not do too badly, it is a crop we usually make a token sowing of as I don't eat it and the others are not too keen either! I had pickled it in previous years and did like it but the whole pickling and waiting until it was ready to eat was tiresome. Rosie, one of our allotmeteers with her husband Con grows quite a lot. While talking about it one day she said she cooks it and puts it into vinegar and it can be eaten as wanted.I tried it this year, roasted the beetroot in the oven then peeled,sliced and put it into jars, covering it with red wine vinegar.It can be eaten immediately but I am not sure just how long it would last in the jars, not really a problem as it did not last long enough to worry about it!

My D.Michelle and I set off on a 2 1/2 hour road trip a few weeks ago to visit Ikea near Dublin.We had not been there before and it is the only Ikea store in Ireland.It is a big Swedish company specialising in storage ideas and the prices are amazing.I bought this vase among other things, it was only 2.00e so I could not pass it by.I bought a silk Lily here at home which was twice the price of the vase, I could have probably got one a whole lot cheaper in Ikea if I had thought of what I wanted to use the vase for.The stem of the lily is wound around in circles in the vase so the top of the vase needs to be wide to get it in. Lots of people have unused fish bowls in the attic and it would be a great way to use it.

 I took Grandsons Kevin and Jack to Waterford to the Suir valley railway, just over an hours journey from home. It is a narrow gauge railway which has been restored and visitors can go on a 45 minute journey through the countryside along the banks of the river Suir. Jack's hero is Fireman Sam, he had the helmet and the safety jacket on all day. The Suir valley railway has different characters meeting and greeting on the platform. Jack was not too impressed with Dora the Explorer.

Once Fireman Sam appeared Jack was starstruck, he followed him everywhere just gazing up at him.

We repeated the trip a couple of weeks later to take Grandson Scott to meet Peppa Pig who he loves on TV. Not too sure he circled around for a while!

The other kids were shaking hands and after a while Scott walked up and did likewise and stood in for a photo with Peppa!Scott was diagnosed as being on the Autistic spectrum but is a lovable and happy little boy who makes us laugh and amazed as he is a bit of a numbers genius and we recently discovered he can read quite a lot of words at just 4 years old!   Scott can make up jigsaws in minutes without looking at the picture on the cover.  
That was just some of our summer even though the sunny days were few and far between.The removal of word verification and using comment approval is working well so far.Thank you all for your suggestions and advice.              

Monday, September 17, 2012

Word Verification Stress!

IfBefore I start on stress, a rainbow appeared over the allotment today as we were leaving so I will take a deep breath and think beautiful thoughts!I had noticed when I tried to leave comments on some blogs over the past week or so word verification kept telling me I was putting in the wrong letters! Yesterday I spent hours visiting all of the blogs on my sidebar which had been  updated in the past month and tried to leave a comment.Any of them with word verification would not allow me, I tried each 3 times, a slow process after writing a comment.If anyone reading this and whose blog is on my sidebar has not had a comment from me then your blog will not allow me to do so.I have now removed word verification from my own blog to make things easier, I will see how much spam I get!

!This hatbox was delivered to me on Friday, I was mystified when I saw it arriving wondering had I been on Ebay in my sleep ordering frivolities! It was my beautifully wrapped order from Mr Middleton garden shop. I had ordered over wintering onions and mixed daffodils some time ago, they had obviously come into stock and been dispatched to me

The onions were put into a bed which Stephen had got ready for me on Sat and sealed under netting to keep the birds off.One side of the netting is black so does not show up in the photo.They are a Japanese onion, Senshyu. They were 3.99e per pound, I was not sure how much would be in a pound so ordered 2lbs! There are 120 onions in this bed and there are still some onions left in the first bag. I think Stephen will be preparing a second bed.Our over wintering onions last year were the best onions of the season as the later ones began to get neck rot from the continued wet weather.Monday was a Moon planting day for onions, I only use it sporadicallybut after the dismal summer I am going to take all the help I can get!

Christmas Carrots in a barrel in the greenhouse

The new strawberry bed, we got this ready some weeks back and transferred new runners for next year.They have taken root and are growing well, looking at the photo I realise I did not do one job which I had made a mental note of while out there. Some of the plants are producing runners and I want to keep these cut to allow the plants to grow strong before winter.

I thinned the swede turnips, another job long overdue, the thinnings are big enough to use.Some small heads of Broccoli they will hardly make side shoots this late in the season but we will leave them to their own devices.Tomatoes are still cropping but reddening very slowly.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Random Summer

A very random selection of summer photos as it was a very random kind of summer! Weather was unpredictable and harvesting even more so.I lost my blogging MOO somewhere along the line due to Blogger and problems with that, I think I will be looking at other means of publishing the blog.The latest which I have encountered over the past few days is I cannot leave comments on other blogs as the comment moderation does not work.I type in the word verification over and over again but blogger keeps saying it is wrong!

Anyway we had gooseberries which Kathryn made into jam and I tried compote!

Our little plant pot holder was happy amid the summer flowers

Grand daughter Gemma shone on her debs night, she went for the vintage look which was so elegant!

My lovely Aunt Maisie celebrated her 83rd birthday, she is the last remaining one of my Mother's family of 8

We had sweetcorn, not as plentiful as previous years but 2 cobs on each of 8 plants was not too bad

Salad crops did OK even though the lettuce spent its time growing under cloches event through July and August.The onions had to be lifted early as the necks were getting soft due to the continuous wet weather.They were dried in the greenhouse and are now bagged in recycled fruit netting

Again some salad crops with berries and peas.The birds did leave some for us!

Some crops went to seed  as in this globe artichoke which is a thing of beauty in the allotment. We are redoing the artichokes bed as they are getting too big for the bed near the greenhouse now.I have some off shoots growing which will be moved to a new permanent bed soon.

Our plot appeared in print! Fionnuala Fallon who writes the Urban Farmer column in the Irish Times each Thurs visited us nearly 2 years ago.The book is called From the Ground Up and has stories of different veg growers who have grown their own  in various places around Ireland often against the odds on wet or boggy land.its not a how to and when gardening book but has lots of great ideas and encouragement to try growing your own no matter what you have even if it is a balcony as in the chapter 8 Square metres.
Hopefully when I click publish Blogger will do so!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Amazing American Mail

I began researching our family tree a few years ago,it is a slow process as I cannot give it a lot of time. I knew  some of my late Dad's relatives had emigrated to the US way back. When our census went online for 1911 and 1901 I found the family with some names I had not heard of before.One was his uncle  Michael and when I enquired back in the homeplace in Johnstown Co Kilkenny I discovered Michael had emigrated to New Jersey and had been conscripted into the US army during WW1.We searched online and eventually found his name on the American Battle Monuments Commission site listed as missing in action or Buried at sea. Michael's name is inscribed on the Wall of the Missing in Meuse Argonne cemetery in France . I contacted the American Vets Assoc for information only to be told his files were probably destroyed in a fire back in the '20s.
There were no further developments until last Nov when my eldest son Kevin phoned me to about a programme on our TV channel called Nationwide.It was to commemorate Armistice day on 11/11/1918 about Irish men who had fought in the various wars.there was a segment on Major Ron Howco, who was in the American forces and is now resident in Ireland,he has begun to recover and repatriate with honour the remains of Irish men who fought under the American flag. I emailed Ron with the few details we had and he put me in touch with Mr Pat Gorman in the US who does genealogy research.
We exchanged emails and Pat came up trumps in a short space of time.While records had been destroyed anyone who has died in  military service in the US has also some files in the national Archives and Pat sourced and forwarded copies of these to me. They are not comprehensive but relate to contact with his Mother after his death and a short file with his physical details eg height etc!Pat also sent me a large coloured photo of the American cemetery in France and with a close up photo of Michael's name inscribed on the wall.

Pat then pulled out all the stops and there was a beautiful bronze grave marker sent to my cousin in Johnstown.We don't have a grave for Michael but it will be attached to his parents grave so in a way he is coming home to them.The last week I had my amazing mail! A full size American flag which would normally cover a casket and 4 x Presidential Certs. with the President's signature (enlarge photo to read detail) We are having a memorial ceremony in Oct at his parents grave, Ron Howco will attend with  American Legion members who will act as Honor Guard and a bugler will play Taps in a moving ceremony which should last about an hour.The flag will be flown and ceremoniously folded to present to a family member and the certs will also be presented.

My daughter Kathryn kept searching online for some reference to Michael and his regiment as they fought in the last desperate days of the war when the fields of France were turned into bloody mud as the war raged.Kathryn found a website for New Jersey and put in Michael's name under WW1 war dead and imagine our shock and surprise when this photo and a short descriptive card was displayed in seconds!We now know he was involved in the Battle in Sedan where he probably died.His name is also inscribed on a War memorial in Bayonne NJ. (click on photo to enlarge)
The last days of the war were chaotic and we have 3 different dates for his death, his Mother thought he died the day before Armistice day but looking back that was probably how long it took for news to travel back to Ireland. The story was told that he was driving an officer and they were both standing beside the vehicle when a bomb killed them.Michael served with 165th Infantry 42 nd division,Company K. They were known as the rainbow division.
Pat Gorman does a fantastic work, it is not a job but a lifetimes work,he will present all of his files on tracing missing  military members  to the WW1 museum in Kansas city, a coincidence came to light during our online contact, Pat's own family originally came fromGlenmore in  Co Kilkenny and his son attended university here in Cork as an exchange student!
 I have not met Ron Howco as yet but another coincidence occurred today. I went to Kinsale for a short trip and saw a Pop up Militiary museum!We checked it out and spoke to  James Sikora who was curator.I told him some of our story and he told me Ron Howco had been in Kinsale at the museum on sat! The Irish Veterans is being set up to honour people who have served in any army all over the world.We have had the unbelievable and disgraceful official stance here until quite recently that Irish men who served overseas particularly in the British army were more or less ignored and forgotten
The Irish vets are in the process of setting up a permanent museum in Kinsale to cover all of the armed conflicts that the Irish were involved in,and need funds etc so I joined up for a years membership for e25.
Another coincidence.... my son Kevin who started the ball rolling with the TV programme is currently serving with the UN, he wants to attend the ceremony. Kevin will have leave for a couple of weeks in Oct/Nov and at the request of Ron Howco it has to  be held on a Sat to allow the members of the American Legion to travel and the only day  that ticks all of the boxes? Sat 27th Oct , the exact anniversary of Michael's death according to official records!
 I get the feeling Michael is making sure he is coming home at last.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sunny Afternoon

 Kevin and myself went out to the allotment on Fri afternoon, it was not just sunny but absolutely roasting! I watered all the plants in the greenhouse and it felt like a sauna. The tomatoes are ripening slowly.Harvest included:
2 courgettes
Small Red Duke of York potatoes
2 cucumbers
some french beans & small tomatoes
blackcurrants,strawberries,red gooseberries & blueberries.The strawberries and cherry tomatoes went to Jack who eats them like sweets!.Not enough fruit to make a summer pudding so the gooseberries & blackcurrants were added to apples to make a summer fruit tart.The blueberries go on my cereal in the morning.
The long green plant at the top of the photo is a Brussels sprout plant gone to seed, the 4th of 10 to go.It was brought home to the hens and I tied it to the fence.Within a very short time it was a skeletal shape hanging from the fence! Waste not want not.

Kevin noticed some of the globe artichokes and asked to take some home?! I asked if he had eaten them before and he said his Mom (Aisling) had shared some with him and he liked them! 3 of these were added to the harvest after the photo was taken.These are old plants and the outside leaves are inclined to be woody so we are digging them out and replacing with some new off shoots from the existing plants.I usually just bring them to the boil in salted water but Aisling added lemon juice to the water for a little extra oomph.

Our 3 aubergine plants in the greenhouse are some of Suttons trial grafted plants. They are producing well, we have had 3 so far and there are quite a few more developing. I noticed one plant seemed to be a lot taller than the others and when I investigated closer I discovered this growing out and up from the grafted root stock!
It is nearly as tall as Kevin, and looks suspiciously like a tomato plant from the leaves and there is a little yellow flower on Kevin's hand which could be a tomato blossom?! A sucker or side shoot?!
The taste of the tomatoes seem to be improving as they get some heat and sunshine