Showing posts from 2008

New Year, New Life

Today, New Year's Eve Ed and myself went out to the allotment for an hour as it was dry though cold in a biting easterly wind.I took out the veg peelings etc which I had saved over the holidays and spread it over the 'no dig' patch. We then covered it over with black polythene and weighted it down with rocks. The snails in theory now get to work and 'work' the soil!I forgot to take a photo of the finished section. The rhubarb was poking through the mulch of horse manure, the first of the new growth on the plot!
I got more well rotted manure and piled it up around the crown to protect it. We have a huge supply of horse manure on the allotment. This is well rotted and black as the digger was out recently and exposed the centre of the pile.Fresh manure is not good as there may be too much acid or something and it can burn new growth or plants.
I upturned the biggest pot I had out there, over the rhubarb as we will get some severe frost before the winter is over.
So …

In the Bag.

I had finished my attempt at quilting and patchwork a few weeks ago but as it was a 'Secret Santa' gift it had to remain a secret for a while!Reading Latane's blog and looking at the lovely handiwork with which she created some beautifull quilts I decided to give it a 'go' albeit on a much smaller scale.This side is simple small squares stitched, I must confess on the sewing machine.I did not have a 'stash' to work from so had to buy some fabric in what I thought were complementary colours.For the first time I understood that quilting and patchwork are not the same thing! When I had the squares joined and backed with wadding I thought it looked a bit 'flat', I sewed criss cross lines with the sewing machine and it gave some body to the piece.
I did not have any pattern to go by so I had to work out each step, a bag may sound simple but to add pockets, handles and line it, while not hard work did take some time.I had looked at various knitting bags on…

Dried flowers

Some of you may remember the teasels growing on the allotment earlier in the year ,if not you can read about them here The last day I was out there before Christmas, some of them were still standing ,stark and withered ,so I remembered they can be used in dried flower arrangements I cut down some and brought them home.
They have a very prickly stem, while not quite thorns, are sharp enough. I left them stand indoors for a couple of days to dry out and gave the stems a rub with sandpaper to make them easier to handle. I laid them out in the back yard on a sheet of plastic and sprayed them silver.They took a few applications to cover them completely.It was a dry breezy day so that did not take too long.
Here they have been put in with a dried hazel branch to give it a bit of festive cheer.
In front of the fire added to another dried flower arrangement, the photo does not do them justice. I will see how long they last and give an update.

Christmas baking

I found a recipe for boozy mince pies on Lynda's blog I decided to give them a try as she recommends putting brandy in to the mince fruit mix.!My daughter Linda had made fruit mince last year and I had still one jar left, well matured by now so I added the brandy to it. I also used Lynda's pastry recipe and believe me it is melt in the mouth!
My own Linda had also made cranberry sauce from scratch and it was delicious( she also peels chestnuts for stuffing)! I have tried bought cranberry sauce in the past and thought it was vile,so on seeing cranberries for sale in the supermarket this morning I thought Why Not? Followed the recipe and it turned out OK, phoned Linda and she said put some Christmassy spices in to it. I added nutmeg, cinnamon and as I had the brandy to hand I threw in a lash of that too.A point of information a'lash' of anything is an Irish measurement of indeterminate or indiscriminate proportions!This stuff is seriously finger licking good and may not l…

Winter Solstice

I was going to do this post tomorrow for the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, but by the time I would have it up, it would be too late to view the solstice on the web on.
For only the second year this can be viewed through an official web cam from inside the chamber at Newgrange showing between 8.30 am and 9.30 am GMT. You can see the recorded web cam at any time on the site, if you miss the actual sunrise tomorrow.
Newgrange is an ancient site in the Boyne valley in Co Meath and is one of the country's landmarks.It was built more than 500 years before the great pyramids of Egypt and 1000 years before Stonehenge in England.
Shortly before 9.00am as the sun penetrates the roof box ( an opening above the entrance) of what was originally thought of as a tomb,but now known as a much more important site .A narrow beam of light will travel through and illuminate the chamber. Crowds will gather in the cold before dawn to wait for the end o…

Parsnips and pests

I pulled up the row of parsnips, they had lots of frost and I may not be out to the plot on a regular basis to pick them. The leaves had withered back from the frosts so I had to dig them out. There was a huge variation in size, due probably to sowing as seeds a little too late. I went back in the blog to the first post mentioning parsnips and the seeds went in on 23rd may.That is the great benefit of keeping the blog I can keep track of when and how we put things in.
A close up of the size variation! They were all a good length as the ground was well dug, the longest one measured 15ins from top to tail end.The photo shows a normal sized one and 2 smallees one even looks a little like a tadpole!Seeds will be in fine and early next year.
The garlic has come up and I think is now just marking time until the ground heats up a little in Spring ,when hopefully they take off growing.
The winter onions came up OK and were making good growth but something seems to be eating or pulling the tops o…

Spotty Sprouts

I finally made it out to the plot on Wed morning!It was sunny and mild(ish).The leeks are growing fine and I pulled these 3, there is a nice length of white flesh on them.The parsnips will get a post of their own and also the celery, this is the saga of the Sprouts.
This is how I left them after clearing all the damaged leaves and spotted sprouts, and re netting them as some rabbits had found a way under the net!
The sprouts on the end of the plants were nibbled and had opened as they should have been picked some time ago!I pulled off all the end ones and added them to the compost in the no dig patch.I pulled any sprouts suitable to pick to give the upper ones a chance to develop in time for the Christmas dinner,which is the whole point of growing our own sprouts.
This is the black spot close up. It did not look pretty,a lot of leaves were yellowed which I think is normal, but a lot of them were covered with black spots. Some of the sprouts had black spots on them. Once the outer leaves …

The knitivity!

A lovely seasonal group of knits. Daughter linda knit these last year,again from a Jean Greenhowe pattern book,Christmas Special .Check out the Amazon Books on side bar.Her handy husband then made the crib from some plywood.daughter Aisling's contribution was to name it 'The Knitivity'!
This is a close up of some of the intricate working on the figures.
On a lighter note, something the kids may enjoy knitting! These are Spaghetti Dolls,so called because they have long dangly limbs.Their clothes are really fashionable and they look really cute teens!This pattern is in a Claire Garland book, again it can be got from Amazon.There are lots of books of cute knit bits, especially to get kids interested in knitting or just for using up oddments of wool and maybe donating the finished items to a sale of work or a charity event!

Handmade Dolls

When posting about knitting last time I began thinking of some of the knitted items which the girls had made.These ones are Linda's, the mother of two boys aged 12 and 6 who makes dolls for the nieces!The first is the rag doll, reminiscent of 'Holly Hobby' which Linda had growing up and loved,until someone who shall remain nameless pulled the arm off of her!!?She found a pattern online for the body but did not like the head, hair or features,so this one is an amalgamation of various other ones.The nude one waiting to be dressed is for one of her sisters.
This is the completed version which Linda also knit the pink frilly dress for.
Another daughter Kathryn,found this pattern in a magazine at one time and knit it for her daughter.Linda then came across it in a book by Jean Greenhowe (see Books from Amazon on sidebar)and has knit this one. This is Cinderella in her ragged dress
When you flip the doll over here is Cinderella all dressed up for the ball!

This photo shows the two s…

family Christening

Baby Scott was baptised on Sat last and thoroughly enjoyed being the centre of attention!He was 18 weeks old and sat up to chat to everyone,even upstaging the priest on the altar. The allotment is not getting too much attention this weather and the Christmas get together was on Sat also but I had to miss it. I will get the news from it soon and hopefully someone took some photos!
Parents, Godparents and big brother Kevin getting a birds eye view of Scott getting the baptismal water poured over him. he did not mind at all and even though it was a bitterly cold evening he did not even whimper.
Scott's other Nanny also knits and made this beautifull blanket out of intricately patterned squares.This is one for the family heirlooms as an awfull lot of time and love went into making it.
One of my other daughters knitted this for Kevin when he was baptised and it is now Scott's turn to wear it.She hand knitted the gown, bonnet and bootees in very fine wool in a very detailed pattern.Sco…

Some thumb twiddling

Hi to everyone who has dropped by while I have been 'off'.Its been 9 days since I did a post!I did log on from time to time and read some of my friends posts to cheer me up. We have had a few days of very hard frosts, something which we have not had at this time of the year for quite a while.It is more seasonal now than in February so maybe we might get summer next year if the seasons move back in to sync!I have not been out to the allotment either but I am sure everything is getting on fine without me.I have been saving all my kitchen waste for the composting and hopefully I will get out there before the end of the week.I have not been twiddling my thumbs at home, well in a manner of speaking I have, as I have as I taken out the wool and knitting needles once again.I was reading the down to earth blog and was inspired!
I started with a neckscarf, nothing too complicated and quickly finished as I did not want to run out of steam halfway through.Not only did I finish one but st…


I have changed the look of the blog,the cutest blog on the block has lots of backgrounds etc;and it is so easy to try them all out. A bit like window shopping without the expense!I spent ages changing it to 3 columns and succeeded but when I changed the background it reverted back to 2 columns so I am just going to leave it for now.I probably did not save when I should have so anyone contemplating doing the same ,be warned!
I changed the header picture to what the allotment looked like the first week we were there. This is Stephen and Kevin getting to grips with it.
I have been nursing a dose of flu or something equally uncomfortable and have been inside all day, it is cold and wet outside anyway so I have whiled away a couple of hours doing this.I also visited a few blogs to see what you have been up to over the past couple of days.

Meter Reading

It may look like a strange name for a gardening post, but with winter setting in I will post on other hopefully worthwhile pastimes.I have been following Rhonda on the Down to earth blog Frugal living, homesteading, etc all have huge followings in America and Australia and across the world.Watching what we pay on gas and electricty etc is one key way of cutting down on bills and saving money. Thankfully we in Ireland do not have to pay for our water...yet!Rhonda covers all of this on her blog. In Ireland our meters are locked inside boxes or inaccessible, but if you can take an ESB reading,do so, then carry on as normal for 2 days, then take the reading again so you have an idea of what power you use. Then for the next 2 days cut down on unneccessary usage ie; unplug all appliances like microwave, TV, computer etc at night, turn off all lights if the room is not being used and don't close the curtains until needed therefore turning on those lights later. Take shorter showers the …

Other People's Plots

I paid a quick visit to the allotment on Sunday afternoon. It was a lovely day,more like Spring than Autumn, temperatures were actually hitting 14% in some areas. Almost tropical!I just did some tidying up around but had a quick look around some of the other plots
Everything looking orderly and shipshape here, plants tidied up for the winter or mulched for the Spring.
Its amazing the amount of plants still growing or starting growth for next year.Last year the allotment was deserted come October, here we are this year and everybody is getting a head start for the next growing season.I read somewhere the motto 'gardening is what shows you believe in tomorrow'
Another well ordered plot. I think this winter we have all got in our winter sown onions and garlic thanks to Mike's advice earlier in the year.That is the great benefit of growing on the allotments, lots of well tried advice is passed on.


I have not been out to the allotment since we came back from holidays ,so I am putting up some photos of Lanzarote.The canary islands were formed many thousands of years ago by volcanic activity.About 300 years ago the volcanoes erupted and spewed out lava and burning ash over a period of 6 years.The whole vista of the island changed dramatically from one of lush green to vast areas of black tortured rock formations where nothing grows. Mother nature may be relenting a little for the devastation she caused as lichen,the first sign of vegetation to appear is visible in some areas in the lava fields and little bushes are clinging on precariously to what they can. Around the coastal areas the people have adapted and have vegetable gardens and use the volcanic ash as a mulch.It holds any dew that falls and passes it down to the soil beneath.The volcanoes erupted around the south west of the island the northern area has some areas where vegetables are grown.
This is just one view of the ext…

Golden Spider Awards

The Golden Spider Awards are an annual event honouring Irish individuals and organisations for their outstanding achievements online and celebrating the successes of the Irish Internet and digital media.

The awards not only reward Irish businesses and community organisations but also individuals for their creativity and innovation. The Golden Spiders provide an important opportunity to recognise and showcase online excellence and are considered an important benchmark for distinction and merit in web-based business strategies.

This is my last post before going on holidays and most of you are probably wondering what it is about?!A few weeks ago I was on the Eircom webpage, (Eircom are the biggest telephone and Internet providers in Ireland). I saw the Golden Spiders and clicked into it for a read. They had the various categories for the awards and I saw that there was one for blogs,thought 'what the hell, why not? I filled in the online form and clicked.
Imagine my surprise when I was …

Uber Amazing Blog Award

I am delighted to receive this award from Lynda, you can read her always informative and interesting blog here
The rules of this award are:

*Put the award logo on your blog or post
* Nominate at least 5 blogs (can be more or less) that you consider to be Uber Amazing!
* Let them know that they have received this Uber Amazing award by commenting on their blog
* Share the love and link to this post and to the person you received your award from

I am nominating the following blogs for this Uber Amazing Blog Award -:
Stewart who takes a wry look at life from down under while gardening.
The tile lady always informative with great photos ( I never knew peanuts grew underground until I read it on her blog)!
Pam a blog about living a simple life and doing everything for themselves, while maintaining a great sense of humour
Clara I have only recently started following Clara's blog and it is so restful with thought provoking poetry and posts
and last but not least a fellow Irish allotment grower, A…

Planning for next year.

We spent some time on the allotment this afternoon as it was dry and sunny. Some jobs to be tackled before we head off on holidays on thurs for a week in the sun in lanzarote.Honey came down to have a look sporting this seasons must have colour on her blanket.
This end of our plot has never been dug so we are trialing the no dig method here!We spent ages drawing wheelbarrows of manure down to completely cover the area.The next step is compost or if you have a friendly grocer or supermarket who will donate any wilted or rotten fruit and veg, to cover as much as possible.Then cover the area again with cardboard and finally cover it with the black plastic to stop the nutrients leaching away in the rain.The worms get to work drawing everything down in to the soil and breaking it up. The plan then is to remove the plastic early next year and set the seed potatoes in to this heaving mass!Years ago in Ireland potatoes were grown in lazy beds done much the same way.A bed was covered in manure …