Saturday, June 29, 2013

Birds & Feathers

 I headed up to the plot early this morning as it was promising to be a really warm day, I put my 2 surviving hens into a box and took them with me. Two have died during the past few months from what I can only presume is old age, they have stopped laying now and are like 2 elderly dowagers. I had a rather romantic notion that they would like  to spread their wings, feel the breeze in their feathers and romp in slow motion through the long grass of one of the unused plots?!
 I left them out, they investigated the long grass for all of 20 minutes grumbling loudly and proceeded to stand by the gate with their heads buried in the long grass with their tales sticking up for the remainder of the morning ! I had worried in case I would not be able to catch them again but they almost hopped into the box for me! Back in their run they marched up and down squawking loudly, my hens do not do foraging they like their food and water provided!

I painted the gate a pillar box red in keeping with Hydro farm tradition, the brighter the better!
In the afternoon I went 'out the Lough' to use a good old Cork expression.Swans were promenading in the sunshine with their young.I gathered various feathers and brought them back to the allotment, why?
To make one of the medieval bird scarers of course!Longtime followers of the blog may remember I made these after seeing them while on a visit to Shakespeare country in Stratford on Avon.
It was much cooler in the evening so the bird scarer was made and is now in place on the plot! I think the idea behind it is birds see the feathers and think it is an unknown bird of prey and ideally stay away! It should be on a long thin cane so that it blows easily in any breeze.
 I had actually forgotten about the bird scarer until I had a moment of deja vu recently, when my sister and myself attended Bloom we picked up various interesting leaflets and magazines. travelling home on the bus I was leafing through the Grow mag which is produced by GIY, (Grow it Yourself) it is definitely a very interesting read from cover to cover and I must source a newsagent to get it regularly.
 Whoa...whats this, someone else has made a Shakespearean bird scarer?! Nope it is me!
Fionnuala Flanagan's brilliant (not just because we have a chapter in it) book was getting rave reviews yet again, it really is a book for all seasons not just to buy as a Christmas gift but to browse throughout the year or give as a gift not alone to a working gardener but to anyone contemplating starting one or just for a good read if you enjoy a factual book with lovely pics of some really lovely parts of Ireland
From the Ground Up, how Ireland is Growing its Own.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Flowers at Home

The garden at home is really beginning to burst into flower, above the 'Manhatten Lights' lupin bought at Mallow Homes & garden festival 2 years ago. The Mallow show is on at the moment and I hope to visit tomorrow ,weather permitting. We have been to Chelsea and Bloom so cannot but attend our very own garden show held at the Cork racecourse in Mallow!

This photo was taken last week before the lupins flowered.In the front the primrose 'Vialli' bought at Bloom by sis Kathleen, between the lupin and primrose is Geum, seen at Bloom and bought here at home recently.
This is a candelabra primrose bought at Mallow garden festival last year, I had forgotten about it until it bloomed quite spectacularly!
Close up of the 'Vialli' primrose.
The Acquelegia or Granny's Bonnet, this one is a lovely shade, it has reseeded all over the garden even in the gravel.
This you have seen before, March pansies still blooming in their bowl !
The aliums were beautiful and I am so glad I photographed them before the wind decimated them!
My old fashioned Peony Rose, the wind and heavy rain battered the first flush of blooms but it has come up trumps again and 3 more flowers are out.

The Peony with the Alium, Hosta to the left and blue Cornflowers behind which I have tried unsuccessfully to remove so many times, even the hens failed to kill it off!
Just some of the flowers blooming at present in the garden at home.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Keeping the plot in Trim

The Broad beans have begun producing, this photo was taken a few days ago so they have gotten a little bigger since then, the quandary  now being when and how to pick and cook them?!
Today, 3 onion beds weeded,fed and watered with the paths in between clipped with a hand clippers. We were going to dig out the paths and cover with 'something' but regular clipping will keep them tidy.There are 2 white onion beds and one red, they seem to be in varying stages of growth even in the same bed as can be seen in the top bed in the photo!

The courgettes are really taking off, even though none have reached an edible stage yet there are lots of blossom.
The sweetcorn is about a foot high and developing nicely, it is hard to see them properly here seen through the netting to deter the very determined Cock Pheasant from getting in. The small green plants around the edge are dwarf French beans, they are planted around 2 sides of the bed.
The lean to tunnel is fulfilling its purpose as the tomatoes are growing well inside. Today I pulled all of them outside and did a job that should have been done first, laying weed suppressant fabric on the ground! The weeds were beginning to like the tunnel conditions too, another photo taken through something this time its wind breaker fabric which allows some air into the tomatoes. The cucumber plant to the back left of the photo is now surrounded in bubble wrap as it likes some humidity.
Despite quite heavy showers over the last few days the ground is very dry  and had to be watered , plants are growing but slowly.
The potatoes even though they were sprayed twice with Bordeaux mix have signs of blight on them today, I pulled off all affected leaves and will go up to the plot tomorrow morning to check, if there are more spotted leaves then it definitely is blight. The warm humid weather conditions for the past few days have been ideal for blight .

Sunday, June 9, 2013

delightful Ditches

 Was it the late Spring, but I don't think I have ever seen such an array of wild flowers adorning our ditches.Ditches to the uninitiated are banks of earth of varying heights which divide our fields. They are usually topped with bushes and trees and grass and weeds grow up the sides which are cut by the council or at least supposed to be cut by them. They cannot cut them at certain times of the year because of birds nesting, maybe because of the recession and staff cutbacks they just have not cut back the undergrowth as they should and all of these wonderful wild flowers are springing up to brighten our journeys.
 Someone said that a weed is a flower in the wrong place and that is certainly true this year. The Bluebells were spectacular this year and the one flower I did not get a pic of were the banks of wild garlic, it would have meant stopping at the side of the road and may not have been the wisest thing to do.
 Bluebells and creeping buttercup, nature has contrasted  those colours in a stunning picture.
More Bluebells, this time with a small white flower which I don't know the name of, it looks a little like Aubretia but again it grows wild?
Today's pic are my first Foxglove this year!They will probably engulf the countryside shortly but these first ones are wonderful!
Cow parsley so beloved of the show gardens and stands in Chelsea growing wild around the Phoenix Park at the back of Bloom! There are drifts of it growing wild this year in fields and ditches, I have never seen so much of it. It was especially striking around Laois & Kilkenny last weekend growing in profusion in the ditches along the roadway, again it would not have been a wise move to stop and alight to take a photo!
I have seen fields covered in white clover and buttercups, daisies, not the small field ones but the larger ones which are usually on motorways are growing all over the place, so keep your eyes open as you drive or walk around the countryside!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Meanwhile back on the Plot

 I have been up to the allotment for some time each day, watering & weeding.I had noticed some of the peas being chomped not from the bottom as in slug attack but the tops and edges of the leaves. One of the other plotters informed me its being done by a cock pheasant who lives in the next field!
I have seen him in the allotment field but not near the plots, he obviously bides his time! I covered the entire pea and broad bean beds with netting, hopefully he will be stopped before he does too much damage and they will have time to recover. The other plot has the peas in a row and he has decimated the whole row of them maybe past recovering.
The raised bed with 4 courgette plants, 3x green and 1x yellow, this got a dressing of horse manure from the Hydro Allotments to create a hot bed  for them and they are putting on a growth spurt with the brilliant sunshine warming them up.
I sprayed the potatoes against blight yesterday, maybe I'm paranoid but this spell of really hot weather could bring mist and humidity very quickly so I am trying to be sure rather than sorry. I used the Bordeaux mixture, I have made up the Bluestone mix previously but  Bordeaux mix is much easier to handle for a small amount of spuds.I got it in a garden centre where I had seen a nice display of it recently and there was only 3 tubs left when I went to purchase it yesterday so maybe others are as paranoid as me!
The second raised bed , this was filled with compost not manure as the carrots were going in here and they don't like a freshly manured bed. it causes those funny shaped carrots that fork.
 From left to right; Beetroot (Bolthardy), Pak Choi, 4x rows of carrots which have germinated with just some gaps. the whole bed is covered with enviromesh to protect from the dreaded carrot fly. After taking the photo  I thinned out the Pak Choi to use as salad leaves and allow the others to grow on. I also thinned the beetroot which are doing well.
 I usually sow seeds into trays at home and transplant out when strong enough, I don't think any of these root  veg like disturbance once settled so planting in the covered raised bed helps germination and gives them some protection. The Pak Choi is not a root crop but I thought they may appeal to the birds so covering is a must.
I continue to pick lettuce and have set replacement seeds to keep a succession of salads for the summer, we had a bit of a Spinach glut too and have to keep cutting to stop it going to seed.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bloom 2013 (3)

The kiddies playground early on in the day!

The Wizard of Oz, Sanctuary garden.Lots of bigger kids queueing up to go through!

Didn't it make you smile?!
Lots of interest  for the kids everywhere.
vegetables were in flower and mini gardens as well as the more formal veg gardens, just proving you don't need an acre of ground to grow a few veg for yourself and the family.
Lots of activities and workshops for children to keep them occupied.
I would have loved to do this myself!
just some more of the various activities in Bloom especially for the kids who were admitted FREE with a paying adult so it was a very friendly family orientated day out where they learned that our veg  does not just appear on supermarket shelves!
 There were FREE refill water stations around the grounds
 getting up close and personal with hens...
 sleepy sheep....
and even more comatose pigs!
 I will finish with that as I could be doing posts for weeks on all aspects of Bloom, make a note for next years Bloom in your diary Thurs 29th May to Mon 2nd June and check out all  the details of this years on their website which is our Irish Good Food Board, you can also download the Chef's recipes which I mentioned earlier.