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Summer days at Flynn’s Cottage.

6 Jun

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The weather has been fab for over  a week now. Temperatures of 22 c every day. Housework is neglected and all the time is spent in the garden.

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All the trees on the lane are now in full leaf…everything looks lush and healthy. The dappled shade gives shelter at the hottest time of the day.

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Yesterday was World Environment Day and to mark it we planted more trees on the laneway. You wouldn’t think any more would fit but we managed to squeeze in about 10 more trees.  Some were bought as bareroot while others…

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like this little Oak were grown from seed or in this case an acorn which is of course the seed of the Oak. Hopefully it will stand here proud and strong many years after we have left our present incarnations.

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In the pond Bogbean is in flower. This little water loving native flowers from April to July and is the food plant of the Elephant Hawkmoth Caterpillars.

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The Bumble Bees love it too. There seems to be lots of Bumbles this year…haven’t seen any Honey Bees though. According to the Irish Beekeepers Association 76% of Irish Honey Bees died over the long Winter. It really is a serious worldwide problem…every third morsel of food we eat is dependent on the Bees for pollination. If we don’t stop the environmental damage we are causing, the Bees and many other insects will be extinct. We do our best to provide a little natural oasis here but when you see the neighbours spraying poison on a few weeds in the yard despair begins to set in.  I am however an optimist by nature so that doesn’t  last for long.

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Andy has been busy cutting away Snowberry and Ivy from around the trees. It’s amazing how much space the spreading Snowberry takes up. When he was finished we planted a Damson and Buddliea here…also some Comfrey which can be just chopped and dropped in situ to feed the growing plants. Comfrey has a deep taproot so it brings up nutrition from deep in the earth. This permaculture technique is one I have used for many years…it works really well.

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It was a revelation when the Ivy was cleared from these Hawthorns. Lovely evening sunlight flooded in and we had a clear view through to the Ash plantation beyond.

Here’s hoping these wonderful Summer days continue for a few more weeks.

Hugelkultur.

21 May

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This area at the bottom of the garden was going to be a greenhouse built by the previous owners of our house.  However the greenhouse never happened…it would cost a pretty penny to built a greenhouse this size.017

We decided to clear the area and make veg beds there. Hugelkultur is something I have been reading about for some time. It is a permaculture technique where rotting wood is buried then covered with soil to make a rounded top bed. Lots of old wood lying about so we decided to give it a go. I have seen videos of people building the beds very wide and high too but as we intend making 4 beds in this area we kept them to 4 feet wide. The outside edges of the foundation will serve as sides for the beds. For the internal divisions we used old scaffolding sleepers which we bought for 3 euros each.

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We then put any old wood lying about in the bottom of the bed.  After reading up about the technique the consensus is that it’s better to use wood that has already started to rot as it doesn’t use up as much nitrogen to break down. The rotting wood also emits some heat so that could extend the growing season a little.

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Compost is then piled on and worked down between any spaces.

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More compost on top and there you have it. A nice bed ready for planting.

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There was really heavy rain after we’d made the bed so that helped it to settle. Before planting another barrow of compost was piled on top and raked in.

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Onion sets were planted in our first hugelkultur bed.

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I like to plant them fairly close so that I can use every second one as spring onions or scallions as we Irish call them. Only 3 more beds to go and our first section of vegetable garden is done.

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