Tag Archives: mulch

Early morning in an Irish country garden.

31 May

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It is early morning…6.3o to be precise…a bit earlier than usual for me to be up and about but I didn’t sleep very well. Probably due to being on antibiotics and steroids for an upper respiratory tract infection. Hopefully the drugs will do the trick and in a few days I shall be tickety boo again.

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The only sound to be heard is the early morning birdsong. All the different voices merge together beautifully like a well rehearsed choir. So uplifting…

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A wheelbarrow full of grass clippings sits as testament to yesterdays unfinished jobs. The first chore today will be to mulch amongst the Blackcurrants with cardboard and these grass clippings.  But thats for later…

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By the pond Flag Irises are just showing their yellow flowers…

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and the Newts are up and about.  Must be hundreds of Newts in the pond. I wonder if Newts ever sleep?

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I can see little flower buds on the Water Lily.

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Everything feels so alive and vibrant. The growth is so strong that the scene changes from one day to the next. A  privilege to be able to observe it…I am thankful.

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As the Sun starts to emerge it is time to go indoors and get the kettle on for coffee.

A new day has begun…

These Springlike Winter days.

25 Nov

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Just a month to Christmas and the Winter Solstice and the weather is just amazing. The misty mornings open out to nice mild days…ideal for working out of doors. It gets cold and dark early but then it is meant to be Winter!

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Periwinkle is still blooming in sheltered spots.

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We have been busy with various outdoor jobs. Mulching to clear the beds for planting anew next Spring is ongoing.

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Lots of cardboard covered with ample amounts of mushroom compost should clear the ground nicely.

 

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This might seem like a very thick mulch but the compost settles a lot. By Spring this will be ideal for planting into…nice black heat retaining compost…hopefully weed excluding too!

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Andy has been busy coppicing the boundary hedges. They had’nt been cut for years so were long and gangly and bare at the bottom. We will interplant with more plants to make a good thick hedge here. The lower height allows us to borrow from the landscape of the Ash forest behind.

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All the plants in the hedgerow are Ash and Hawthorn…both suitable for burning green. They both burn very hot too. Andy has been chopping it all into fire sized logs on his new log splitter. He insists on making those funny faces…beyond my control!!  In the shed behind you can see the new shredder.

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This will be used to turn this lot into mulch for beds and for making pathways.  There’s still about another hundred feet of hedging to be done so lots to keep us busy for some time.

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After a day’s work it’s nice to retreat to the cosiness of the kitchen where the stove is kept ticking over all day. The kettle is always full and on the point of boiling for cuppas for ourselves and anyone who may drop in. Visitors are always a good excuse to retreat into the warmth of the house.

Looking forward to many more of these Spring like Winter days…they may make for a very short Winter. Fingers crossed!

 

Busy Autumn days.

1 Oct

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So far Autumn has been very pleasant. Mild days and nights with little rain or wind. Fuschias are still producing lots of flowers. If you like them now is a very good time to take cuttings. Just take shoots about six inches long…take off the flowers and lower leaves and insert cuttings into a gritty compost.

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On the lane the colours have started to change. Vibrant greens give way to light greens and yellow as the plants start the process of entering dormancy. Hawthorn is the first to lose it’s leaves…they are already turning the ground brown. These will be collected and left in plastic bags to rot down over the Winter. They make a great soil improver.

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In the garden Kaffir Lilies or Schizostylis add a splash of late colour.

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After observing the garden over the course of the Summer we have decided to have a major revamp of the beds. As you can see there is very little colour now. We like lots of flowers and vibrant colours in the borders. To achieve this next year we have decided to strim everything in the beds back to ground level…after removing and potting up anything useful…then mulch heavily with cardboard and newspaper followed by mushroom compost. With this job in mind we borrowed our friends Anne and Simon’s van on Monday and collected 2 loads of mushroom compost from the tunnels in Keadue.  Do check out Anne and Simon’s blog http://www.anirishalternative.blogspot.com …they are up to allsorts over there including building a small version of the straw bale house they lived in 15 years ago. Lots of veg production over there too.

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During the beautiful weather of the last days of September we got the outside of the house painted. White of course…I think that is the best colour and the traditional one for Irish cottages.  Dark blue for the windows creates a nice balance.

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In the kitchen…in between decorating…I have been preserving the produce from the Earth. Blackberries were fab this year…I’ve frozen about 10 kilos. These will be used to make jams, cordial and crumbles over the Winter. I’ve also harvested all the Basil…it tends to go mouldy from now on…and made it into pesto. I don’t use cheese in this as Parmesan is not veggie friendly so it freezes very well. I use Walnuts instead of Pine Nuts.  There’s still Elderberries and Haws to be collected so busy days ahead.

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I’ve also made a sourdough starter using some of the Grapes as they have a natural coating of yeast when ripe. My old sourdough starter died when we left our old house. I add the starter to everything I bake. It is great for pancakes and I add a good scoop to cakes too. Great for one’s digestion.

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Along with everything else to be harvested it is also Mushroom season. This giant Boletus served us both for breakfast. Delicious it was too! I really want to find some Chanterelles this year. Be careful if you are out there collecting as there are also False Chanterelles…the proper ones smell of Apricot…the fakes don’t.

Garden work on hot Summer days.

8 Jun

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Hi folks! The big news is that we have a polytunnel. Yippee! We bought it from the Galway based Polytunnels Ireland. They arrived yesterday morning at 10.15. Started work at 10.30 and had the whole job done by 1.30. Yeah…that’s right…all done from scratch in 3 hours. Hardest working guys in seen in ages. They only stopped to drink water and an occasional few minutes in the shade. It was a really hot day… 27 celsius…so the plastic is really tight.

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Today was also very hot but I couldn’t resist starting to mulch in there. We will use the no-dig method to make the beds. First a good thick mulch of cardboard and newspapers…then the manure will go on…and lastly compost on top and it’s ready for planting.

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We now have 3 hugelkultur beds made. One with Onions…one with Black Tuscan Kale and the last one planted today with Peas. There’s nothing to beat home-grown Peas. These are Daniel O’Rourke… an old Irish variety. I shall also save seeds from these at the end of the season.

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Andy was feeling the effects of the sun today so he chose a job under shade. He sorted out all the wood from the Poplar tree we had felled some weeks ago. The big logs were put in a big pile to season and all the small branches he sawed up and put in the fuel shed. In the country one always has to think ahead to Winter fuel supplies. This lot should be ready to use by September.

Temperatures are set to return to 19 celsius by Monday.A  better temperature for tunnel work.

As Spring slides gently into Summer.

29 May

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It was a beautiful day today, warm and sunny, an ideal day for working outdoors. I’m not a very early riser but I was up at 7.30 today, woken by the feeling that is was going to be one of those perfect days.

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The garden is green and fresh and feels so vibrant right now. One can almost see things growing. The old cottage garden favourite Granny’s Bonnet or Columbine has burst into bloom. It all over the garden in shades of blues, pinks and creams. Luckily I like it very much.

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The Tulips are still giving some colour too. These are late partly because of the cold Spring but also because they were planted late,  a bargain buy in the January sales.

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Most of the day was spent working on this bed. I planted about 30 plants in here, all grown from cuttings from my old garden. The exception being the Maple planted at the top, the dogs are admiring it here, this was a birthday present from my Mother.

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This is the same bed about a month ago. A good transformation I think. After everything was planted, I mulched the bed with wilted grass clippings. These will keep the weeds down, hold the moisture and feed the plants as it rots down. I watered everything when the Sun went down, first with water and then with a manure tea. That will feed everything and also get the soil microbes active.

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As I was planting I hit rock a few times. Further investigation revealed some lovely flat stones. These will be used in another part of the garden as stepping stones.

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Sitting on the verandah in the cool of the evening and I’m still enchanted by the day and the lovely way the long Spring is sliding nicely into Summer. Hopefully there will be many more days like this one.

Out in the garden…at last!!

2 Apr

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After the coldest March on record in Ireland it looks like Spring is certainly here. Felt like it today anyway, 9 degrees (c) and not a breeze. We spent the day in the garden. There’s so much to be done here. Plants to prune  and plants to move or get rid of. So many Blackcurrants…everywhere. Andy dug up some today which my Mother will take back to Tipperary with her. The rest I offered on Facebook and a couple of people said they would have some. Great! Don’t want to be dumping good plants.005 

After dealing with some of the Blackcurrants we decided to tackle this neglected Rambling Rose. Badly positioned and badly needing a prune it looked a bit sad.

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After cutting out all the dead wood Andy gave it a good cutting back with a long handled pruners. Pretty thorny this one so gloves an essential.

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After pruning it was easier to dig out. Another job for Andy. We had intented to plant it into the earth on the south facing wall of the guest house but on trying to dig we discovered that the foundations come out quite a way. So….

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it ended up in a big pot instead. Hopefully it will survive and produce lots of flowers next year. Can’t see it flowering this year. I put some Rescue Remedy in the water to help the plant recover. Fingers crossed!

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That leaves us with a nice empty bed to plant up. The soil feels pretty tired here so lots of compost will be dug in plus lots of mulching when the new plants are in.

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The first plant to go in here will be this Prunus kojo-no-mai. It was a new home present from our nearest neighbours back in Arigna. Beautiful Spring flowers…just what the garden needs.

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The dogs loved the sunshine too. Little Lettie was totally crashed out as we worked away. Humans and animals alike, we all enjoy a nice sunny day. Hopefully it was the first of many.

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