Last Post 1210 days 4 hours ago
31 January 2010 20:29:45
I went out this afternoon - around 3pm - with the sole purpose of emptying out 2 containers and one hanging basket, all of which had lavender growing in them last summer and all of which have died due to the bad weather. One of these lavenders was Munstead and another was called Hidcote, both of which are English lavenders and are supposed to be the hardiest of all the English lavenders. However, mine are definately dead.
When I went to empty the containers, the top inch was frozen solid. I was surprised as it was the afternoon and both containers were located in the sun!
The contents of all three are now in the wormery with shredded paper on top of each tray and an empty plastic milk carton under the tap for the run-off. I know it might take a while and in very small doses, but I do love getting the juice out of the wormery.
31 January 2010 11:45:53
On Thursday 4th, Lidl are selling 40l of sowing and cutting compost for €2.99. Hard to beat that.
30 January 2010 22:31:28
I was down in Kilkenny today and I got a chance to prune the main rose bed. These roses were planted about 25 years ago so they look their age. On some of them, there is a good 2 ft of wood with no shoots at all which means that when the growth is on them, they are in excess of 6 feet tall. The biggest problem with that is rocking caused by the wind. Last year, I thought I had solved the problem by putting fresh soil around the bases. I need to do it again this year. I didn't have much time left today after I had finished pruning as my presence is required here for baths and bed so I just heeled them in. That will have to do them until I am down again.
30 January 2010 22:30:05
The "After" photo
29 January 2010 09:53:17
The 'Spud' campaign
The British Potato Council are putting a petition to Dowling Street, asking for the humble spud to be re-classified as a "supercarb" to recognise its unique dual identity as both carbohydrate and vegetable.
Researchers at the Institute of Food Research have found molecules in potatoes called kukoamines, which they believe could lower blood pressure, while a separate study from the same centre suggested that a substance called pectin - found in many fruit and vegetables - may protect against cancer.
29 January 2010 00:23:16
With the unwelcome 4 legged creatures around the back garden, I am slightly cautious when I go out. My greenhouse is up in a corner, with the oil tank, sectioned off and out of view so I am afraid of my life that I will trap a rat in there without realising it. While I don't believe the legend of a cornered rat goes for your throat, I wouldn't like to be that close to a living one.
As a result, no work will be done out there until the problem is sorted. Instead, I went out the front and pruned the roses. I used to be terrified of pruning roses. When I was ordering my rose "Variegata di Bologna" from the UK rose supplier, Peter Beales, I also ordered a DVD from him. The advise he gives about pruning is to let your worst enemy prune them for you! That certainly takes the worry out of the task.
I must prune the roses in Kilkenny too. Hopefully, the weather on Saturday will be good.
27 January 2010 21:47:01
A cat came into the back garden this morning and spent a good while smelling around my shed. I immediately smelt a rat - figuratively speaking. When I went out to open the glasshouse, I had a good look around for any evidence of these 4 legged unwelcome creatures.
Last year, we had the same problem. We had to move the composter up to the in-laws. They had worn a track from the vacant garden next door, in under the dividing barrier and up to the composter.
Today, I noticed in the exact same entry spot as last year, the soil is depressed. There is no further evidence of a track but with the composter no longer there, they wouldn't be going up to that area on a regular basis.
The rat poison is ready. I think I will have to put some into the garden next door - the house is vacant and I want to get these before a nest develops. I want to be able to use the back garden in the summer.
26 January 2010 18:04:24
Corduff Allotments are conveniently sited on the old Dublin Belfast road, easily reached from Malahide, Swords, Balbriggan and Lusk The allotments are on a working livestock farm, the ground chosen to develop as allotments has been in permanent pasture for many decades and should therefore prove highly productive.
Initial facilities will include:
v Parking as well as being on a bus route
v Locked storage for tools
v Combination locked gate to actual allotments
v Rabbit fencing
v Conveniently sited taps for watering, water will be metered
v Composting facility
v The allotments will be in two sizes 160sq.m and 80sq.m.
24 January 2010 12:35:33
If anyone is interested, Thompson & Morgan have a 3 for 2 offer on selected varieties. Follow this link:
23 January 2010 23:24:09
I had to go to Cork for work today so I went by train. Coming back, I was reading the Grow Your Own magazine - a UK publication. I am only new to this magazine and from what I have read so far, it is an excellent magazine for fruit and vegetable growers.
Anyway, there was a 2 page spread on rural community gardening. I read down through them and there, the last one was about Castlefarm, Co. Kildare. As you can imagine, I was surprised that someplace in Ireland would feature in a UK publication. The article was the height of praise for the owners - Peter & Jenny Young.
They are organic dairy farmers but noticed the demand for growing space so they set up 30 allotments as well as a community plot in Dec 2008. The plots are 6m by 5m, and supplied with manure, water, sheds and picnic benches. They also organise courses for new gardeners on topics such as choosing crops and sowing techniques, thought by organic experts Grace Maher and Paula Pender.
Isn't that just excellent? What a great way to start growing fruit and vegetables.
21 January 2010 23:10:14
I booked my flights and tickets for the BBC Gardeners' World show in Birmingham tonight. I am going on Sunday 20th June for the day. It runs from Wed 16th to the 20th. Both Aer Lingus and RyanAir have sales on until midnight tonight, if anyone wants to have a quick look.
One thing I must look into before I go is if I can bring back tubers and bulbs. I was told before that I could only bring back plants which are growing in compost. That rule had something to do with foot and mouth disease because foot and mouth disease is not transmitted via compost. However, I would like to get a logical reason why tubers and bulbs can't be brought home as we can order them on the internet and they get shipped over. One for the Department of Agriculture or the Department of the Environment? Or God forbid, the HSE?
21 January 2010 17:10:05
It never ceases to amaze me as to how a certain person in this house does not notice certain things, such as floors in need of a sweep! However, buy a new indoor plant and it is spotted immediately. I have a number of plants which are on top of the kitchen units but they can't stay there because they are not getting enough light. The plan is to pot them all together in one large pot and put it on the step of the stairs which has the bend on it and therefore, has the space to accommodate them. However, in order to do this, I have to adopt a 4 plan strategy.
Step 1: Purchase a mobile plant stand in Lidl (for €4.99) so the container will not be sitting on the carpet and they can be moved up out of the way when the stairs is being hoovered.
Step 2: Strategically place the plant stand without any plants on it before he arrives home from work.
Step 3: When it is noticed and commented upon, just brush it off as if it just landed there from outer space and that I certainly had no hand, act nor part in its arrival to that very spot.
Step 4: In about a month's time, pot up the container, place it on the stand and walk away. If a further comment is received at that point, the answer is very simple - the plant stand had been there for AGES.
Step 1 and 2 have been implemented today.
18 January 2010 00:01:17
With the temperatures rising during the day, I take the horticultural fleece off the greenhouse and hang it on the clothes line to dry. Casper is considered too scary by my pair and when they see the fleece blowing in the wind, I am very quickly told that it is scary looking. I often wonder what way their minds work!
There is a hugh amount of damage done by the bad weather. In fact, as I looked around today, everywhere I looked I saw more damage. I would need a week off work to get it sorted, which, considering my garden is so small, this gives some indication of the level of destruction. Before winter set in, I had tidied up the garden (both front and back) and had all the perannials cut back. Looking around now, you would think I hadn't set foot in it for months, let alone having done any work in it. To add to the cutting back of the damaged plants, I seem to have got a tonne of leaves in every nook and cranny of the garden.
Today, I went through the greenhouse, taking the damaged leaves off, any of the cutting which have no roots and look decidely not going to take at this stage were removed, gave it a tidy up and watered everything.
When that was done, I headed off to the garden centre to get a replacement pot. I got a pair of glazed pots, for E30 (half price sale). I love this particular garden centre because the owner is normally on the premises and he chats to everyone, passing on great tips. Today, he and his son were the only two there when I arrived. They are renovating the premises and they will have a lovely large premises when it is finished. I asked about my cannas (which I had bought from them last year). The leaves have turned black but the base is still firm. I was told to leave the black leaves on them to provide protection to the base, should more frost occur. Phew, did I breath a sign of relief as I hadn't cut them off for that reason but I had debated it in my head!
I got a bag of vermiculite while I was there but I think seed planting will be a while away until I get the place half decent looking.
No photos - no self respecting gardener would put up a photo of the state of the place!
14 January 2010 00:19:09
Sorry folks for not commenting on journals - busy at the moment, workwise and long may it continue.
If anyone is interested, Peter Beales has 25% off all bare root roses and he delivers to the Republic of Ireland.
If you want a container rose, he will only deliver to the Republic of Ireland in blocks of four.
New to his collection are flower carpet roses and he is offering more than 25% discount as an introductory offer.
He also does garden plants. He is offering 8% off perennials if 10 or more are ordered.
Check out his website: www.classicroses.co.uk for details.
10 January 2010 23:06:34
I noticed a casualty of this inclement weather - a container has split in two places. This container is my "white" container because it has an anemone, a trumpet flower, a cyclamen and tulips, all white and there should been something in bloom for every month of the year. I am hoping that as the thaw happens, it doesn't spill out and make an awful mess. Ideally I would love to get a new container and just transfer from one to the other. Probably wishful thinking!
09 January 2010 00:53:20
The thermometer read -1.5 this morning as I ran out to the garden. I actually thought it was warm!
As I walked to the train station, all wrapped up, I thought that this is glorious weather as the sun was shining and the skies were clear. The only thing that stopped me from skipping along the footpath, singing the Sound of Music song 'These are a few of my favorite things' was the ice!
However, I called into an office today, which re-opened on Monday and I nearly froze. The heating system, while working, has not yet heated the building. There are no thermometers in there but I would think that it must have been well in the minus degree category as crystallisation nearly occured on the tip of my nose!
08 January 2010 00:38:21
When we were kids, a copy of Old Moore's Almanack was bought every year. I can still see its green cover, with no pictures either on the cover or inside - from a child's point of view, a very boring book.
I was listening to the radio today and guess what? Paraphrasing, Old Moore's Almanack gives the following weather forecast:
January - Snow - not the messy, gluey stuff but the real snow.
June & July - Glorious weather - we may not have money but who needs money when we are spending glorious days at the beach.
August - everything ripens as it should.
One correction mark to the author for getting January right. Will the overall mark be 12 / 12 i.e. 100%?
07 January 2010 00:32:32
The thing-y is called a paper log maker. Normally, you will see it for sale during the summer months. I got mine in Argos for about E25.
You tear up a newspaper into strips and soak in water. When soft, make balls of the paper and put into the log maker. Fill in the gaps as well as possible. The handles on the log maker will squeeze out a considerable amount of water. Empty it and leave the paper log to dry.
They do take quite a while to dry - depending of the size of them to begin with and their storage spot while drying. Once they are dry, just store with the normal fuel for the fire. They can be burned in any type of fire - I used some of mine in my fireplace when I am heading out somewhere and I know the fire will not be looked after in my absence. They tend to keep the fire going, without flaring BUT they were not completely dry.
In the chimenea, I use small sticks to get them going.
Hope that's of use.
05 January 2010 23:16:38
My seeds arrived today so delighted I started to read the packet information. In the end, I set up an excel spreadsheet and set out the relevant information. You see, I have to plan. My glasshouse is small so in order to get the best use out of it, I have to plan what will be sown in what month, in various quantities.
There are approximately 124 seeds in the pea packet, which can be sown in February and planted out in March, right up to June. So, if I plant one tray of 24 in February, plant it out when ready for planting and then wash out the tray and re-fill, I should have a continous supply of peas plants of 24 every 3 weeks and equally a continous supply of peas for eating. Furthermore, the land up behind the in-laws will not be ready until mid-April so the first lot can be grown here in my own garden in a container.
The cucumber has 15 seeds in the packet - to be sown in March and the pumpkin has 15 seeds in it to be sown in April so the same tray can be used for them.
The sweetcorn has 50 seeds so 2 seed trays will be needed but in May.
Based on this plan, the month of May could put the glasshouse under pressure because the frosts will not be over so the summer flowers will be in there too.
05 January 2010 00:03:42
Any of you who follow garden.ie on facebook will already know this - Johnstown Garden Centre has a range of vegetable seeds for the urban grower.
Follow this link or go directly from Facebook.
Leek Lancelot looks tempting!
04 January 2010 23:45:37
For comparison purposes
Back to the paper logs - these two paper logs were the first two I ever made. I used a Saturday issue of the Irish Independent in tabloid form, including the Weekender magazine, the Aldi supplement and another section in broadsheet form. As you can see, size-wise, they are roughly the size of a briquette and have shrunk by approximately a third. They are no more a fire hazard as the briquette is as they are both hard. They are easy to store as they stack on top of each other.
I burned ones that I made after these but they were not fully dry. The ones I burned lasted for near 1.5 hours so I would expect these to only last for one hour. I also don't make them as big as these now as these took approximately 15 weeks to dry completely.
03 January 2010 22:25:44
After seeing Spider's hyacinths, I have to admit to a bit of jealously. Mine are planted since mid November and are only about 1.5 inches tall. I guess what is slowing them down is that they are in the living room which is the coldest room in the house when the fire is not lit but becomes too hot when lit. Normally, I only light the fire on Sundays but with this cold spell and the holidays, it has been lit every day. All I can do is hope that they continue to grow.
I did my flower count - disappointing results. I have heathers, cyclamen, hellebores, violas and one primula (new breed from June Blake which is unnamed). I have Skimmia Japonica and a few roses just about hanging in there. Nothing out of the ordinary or amazing but I was surprised as at this time of the year, with both the cold and the garden looking gloomy, it certainly wouldn't encourage anyone out to admire them. Must give it a bit of thought for next year.
02 January 2010 22:20:49
Beware - black nails
Anyone thinking of making paper logs, beware of ending up with black nails. Onless, of course, you want to turn gothic. A good scrub gets rid of it so no reason to remain indoors, hidden.
02 January 2010 19:38:41
With little that could be done today in the garden, I soaked several newspapers and made paper logs. These are great for burning in the chimenea on a dry, slightly nippy summer evening. All they have do now is dry out and then they are ready for use.
Once burned, the ashes can go directly into the compost heap, already broken down, ready for incorporation.
01 January 2010 22:36:34
This laptop is a great thing, especially with internet access! Today, the house could have done with a good clean but I noticed on the RTE player, all 6 episodes of Super Garden. Done in 2008, it was based on amateur garden designers, the winner would get to design a garden in Bloom 2009.
While there is a lot of "repeating" i.e. explaining about the programme at the start of each one, after ever commercial break and at the summary stage, at least there is something gardening in there. I would have prefered to have got more plant information rather than the cameras just spinning around and watching the judges getting out of the car, sitting on the grass, etc.....
They were re-broadcast from 14 Dec 09 up to 21 Dec 09. If you want to look at them go to www.rte.ie/player ; select A-Z on the top right hand corner, select S from the box that appears, and then select Super Garden - the second programme on the second row.
The house cleaning will have to wait until tomorrow!