Andy was here today so I ventured out for my first snow walk after being housebound for a week with a lung infection. I am still on antibiotics until Friday but I really feel back to normal again. Today the sky was overcast and really very dark all day. It looked like more snow was coming but it never happened and there was actually a good thaw today.
I don’t fall into illness mode easily and do not spend time lying in bed. Instead I use the time indoors to get houseworky tasks done. Friends sourced some organic Seville oranges at the bargain price of 2 euros per kilo. Four kilos of them have now been turned into delicious marmalade. It is a long process but so worth the effort. Home made marmalade is just a different experience to the mass produced stuff. One batch turned a dark brown colour just like Oxford marmalade.
A little gardening was also done today. These scented Tulips were half price in the January sale at a local garden centre and couldn’t be resisted. A little late being planted but now in pots in the polytunnel they will soon catch up. I really want a lot more scent in the garden so that is one of the aspects I shall be focusing on this year. More beds for planting vegetables is also high on the to be done list.
Still lots of greens in the tunnel. Rocket, Purslane and Spinach are a welcome addition to meals. The Spring Onions are a bit small yet but will grow quickly when the weather warms and the days grow longer.
The Sun is still low enough in the sky to create interesting morning shadows however this evening there was still some light at 5.30. So looking forward to Spring and the year ahead. A few trips planned but not to be revealed as yet!
The view down the lane is bleak today but before long everything will be clothed in green again. Looking forward to that time. For me Winter is something that has to be tolerated to get to the glory days of Spring and Summer again. That is my time!
The Spring flowers have retreated and the early Summer flowers have taken centre stage. These Aquilegias or Granny’s Bonnets as the are commonly known are short lived but so pretty right now. Dead heading will keep them flowering a little longer but by high Summer their time is over. They are easily raised from seed or from division of the clumps.
Rosa Rugosa is about to show it’s first fragrant blooms. It will continue to produce them right up to Autumn followed by large bright red hips. These are very high in Vitamin c and can be used in jellies and syrup.
There’s been a lot of rain this past week so everything is looking beautifully fresh and green. Purple Alliums add a lovely dash of colour. Must do a bit of weeding here…pretend you don’t see those Dandelion heads.
Valerian is waiting in the wings. I love it’s tall gangly habit that allows one to see through it to the plants behind . Nice pink flower too. I do tend to have a lot of pinks and purples in the garden. Purple is my alltime fave colour.
It’s looking good for some Blueberries later on in the season. One of my fave fruits…nothing to do with them being purple!
In the conservatory Geraniums (or are they Pelargoniums) are producing lots of flowers.
In the polytunnel all the new season crops are in. The Swiss Chard had to come out to make room for Courgettes and Beans. I’m always reluctant to take out crops that are still producing but this would have gone to seed soon anyway. Salads and Spring Onions are cropping now. There’s nothing like those first salad pickings. Broad Beans will be ready soon.
Outside the Setanta potatoes have been planted. These are supposed to be blight resistant and very floury. Kale, Red Cabbage and Onions are also in the ground.
Round the pond Andy has built a dry stone wall. Doesn’t it look good?
On the lane all is fresh and bright and green once again.
After almost a week away it’s great to be back working in the garden again. I do love to get away but getting back home is the best. I had a lovely time down in Tipperary where I attended a family wedding. It was a lovely day out and the food at the County Arms Hotel in Birr was just amazing. Imagine my surprise to be handed a totally veggie menu. We stayed overnight in the hotel and the whole experience was really great. A highly recommended hotel in my view.
It’s amazing how much growth occurred in the time I was away. Suddenly there’s lots of veg and salads. Beans are ready for picking and the Basil seems to have trebled in size.
Courgettes are coming thick and fast now.
My fave thing about having a polytunnel is growing our own salads. I just could not bear to eat those sad looking presentations from the supermarket. I’m quite pleased with this lot as the polytunnel is only up a short time. Summer Purslane, cut and come again Lettuces, rocket and Basil make for a lovely salad mix. With a nice dressing…a salad for me…is the basis of any good meal.
Flowers in the polytunnel too. This strange looking plant is Cock’s Comb Amaranth. It was a gift from my friend Saffron who has a fondness for rare and unusual plants.
The seeds are forming along the edge of the comb. Will certainly try and save seed from this beauty.
In the garden one always has to be thinking ahead to the next season. August is a good time to plant winter salad crops as they will be well established by the time the colder weather comes. Of course day length is also a big factor in plant growth and already the nights have started to draw in a little. The Purple Sprouting Broccoli has come on well outside…this is a plant that does’nt need to be indoors…this will be very useful in the ” hungry gap” next March and April. One of my fave vegetables.
There is a real feel of Autumn in the air and of course seeds are setting everywhere. This Cotoneaster will be red before too long. Good picking for the birds when the weather gets colder. Hopefully that will not be for a while yet.
As the longest day approaches everything in Nature is full of vitality and bursting with energy. The weather is good… not as hot as our recent heatwave which suits me…and probably most Irish people better. I don’t think we are genetically disposed to very hot weather…most of us wilt when it gets above 23 or 24c.
Cherries are starting to swell on the trees. It’s looking good for Apple and Plum harvests too…and of course the Blackcurrants never let us down. Even in the recent bad Summers the Blackcurrants came up trumps. The seem to like the conditions here in the north-west. Lots of freezing, jamming and chutney making to be done later it seems.
In the polytunnel the first bed is made.
The first thing to be planted was a Mexican Midget tomato. It already has flowers so shouldn’t be too long before we get lovely little sweet Tomatoes here. Several varieties of Lettuce, Basil, Rocket, Chervil and Dill were planted plus 3 more Tomato plants. That’s that bed full…time to get another one constructed.
In the front garden Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus) is in flower beside the pond. Not one of my favourite shrubs but I can’t see us taking it out either…but then again maybe we will. Andy isn’t a big fan of it either.
Within the pond the Water Lily has been teasing us for days with it’s semi-open blooms.
Under the shelter of the verandah the Clematis has burst into flower. Not the dark purple I’d like but still quite pretty. It’s one of the plants the previous owners planted here. Maybe I will replace it in the Winter with Clematis jackmanii my absolute favourite Clematis.
On the lane the Hawthorn flowers are just going over. Soon they will make little Haws which will light up the hedgerows with their vibrant red come Autumn. The cycle of the year continues…as it always does.
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.
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.
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.
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.