This is the journal of my endeavours to grow a range of fruit, veg and flowers from seed, grow organically, and my attempts to create a personal paradise with 1/2 acre of maintained gardens and 1/2 acre wild meadows. Northern Ireland's average daily high temperatures are 18 °C (64 °F) in July and 6 °C (43 °F) in January. Soil type: Clay

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Crocus n Bulb Update

A flower bed full of crocus.
Where did all my yellow crocus go?
Bring on the bulbs...

Crocus and Snowdrops continue to flower...

Daffodils are just recently flowering...

Tulips are trying...
Along the driveway. These are in their 2nd year. They will continue to multiply each year. Maybe it's true about the birds eating yellow crocus?

This is where some of the bulbs started; when bought they were reduced to 25p (41 US cents) per pack. Great value!
The 2nd daffodil to flower so far.
Snowdrops (also pictured below left when in flower) have now finished.
Not all the snowdrops have finished - I will hate to see them go!
Tulips emerging and won't be long to flower. Some nibbles on the foliage.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Perennial Protruders

Lupin in its 2nd year. Grown from seed.
Walking around the garden I've noticed perennials starting to come up. This is a nice sign that Spring is in the air.

Often when I grow perennials from seed I keep them in a pot for the first year so I can keep an eye on them and protect them from slugs and snails.

You'll see from the photos below I have a bit of garden work to do clearing leaves and debris. As soon as I'm over the cold I'll have to get out there and get some work done!

Delphinium in its 2nd year; grown from seed. It didn't flower last year but should flower this year, and for years to come. I'll be planting it in the ground about March.
Variety: Delphinium elatum Pacific hybrids
Geranium (the small pink coloured one) is showing growth. These plants divide easily to make more and they self seed as well. 
Sedum Autumn Joy is just beginning to show new growth - the old stalks still in place.
Lupin grown from seed quite a few years ago.
Aquilegia Long Spurred Hybrids / Columbine - this will be its 2nd year flowering. Grown from seed.
Above and Below: Canterbury Bells, grown from seed last year and hopeful to flower this year. These are biennial and supposed to reach a height 90-120cm (36-48 inches). Will be planting these in the ground in March. First time trying these!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Veg Update (Kale,Broccoli, Rhubarb)

Kale 'Nero di Toscana'
I'm relatively new to growing veg. This year I grew kale and broccoli for the first time. Growing veg I often find myself asking questions like:

"When is it ready to eat?" "When is it inedible?"
"Is that the way it should look?" etc.

A few more questions below...

Above: Is it normal for kale to have a long 'trunk' like this? Suppose I pick leaves from the bottom so naturally this shape results?
You might also spot my poor little leeks in this photo - quite small!
Kale starting to flower - does this mean it's no longer good for eating? 
Above: Kale Curly Scarlet - plenty of this in the veg box.
I have to admit I'm not too keen on the texture when its cooked.
Under the kale, you might spot celeriac leaves (which I should have harvested ages ago).
Above: Broccoli forever flowering!
My first year growing broccoli. I harvested very little before it began flowering. I've left it to flower, which it has been doing for months! I have to admit - I do like the flowers!
Rhubarb is starting to emerge!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Blogger's Bloom Day (Snapdragon Snap Back)

The first Daffodil flower!
It's Bloggers' Bloom Day - the 15th of every month. Spring is in the air and the bulbs are coming up full force.

Here's what's blooming this month (many of which were blooming last month)...
Poached Egg / Limnanthes keeps flowering, although it is really yearning for summer (when it has a prolific show of flowers). 
Crocus coming up in between some Poached Egg foilage.
Purple crocus coming up amongst the leaves.
Muscari is still in flower. I noticed some bulbs flowering in December and have had staggered flowering through Feb (and possibly beyond).
Heather - above and below.

Christmas Cactus
Yes, this is Snapdragon. I did a double-take when I noticed this looked to be flowering. Most of the Snapdragon never died down over the Winter. Some of the plants seem to be starting to flower. I think this is strange. 
Looking to flower? Antirrhinum (Snapdragon) 'Intermediate Mixed', (Half Hardy Annual), planted outside May/June 2011, left over Winter, and making a come back!
Snowdrops - a favourite this time of year!
Daffodil coming up around the snowdrops.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Going Organic

Even though I aim to grow organically, I'm not sure I'd fully pass an organic test (I'll keep striving towards this!).

For example, I've never really thought about buying organic seed until more recently. This is something I aim to do in the future. I was at my local garden centre and noticed a large display of organic seeds - great to see! I'd also like to begin to use heritage seed.

I've also realised that some of the feed I've purchased in the past hasn't been organic. So, when I spotted some feed half price in the garden centre I decided I had to have it. I'm a big fan of organic chicken manure pellets too!

At Linda's 'Slow Growing in Scotland' I came across a link to Garden Organic; some good info on growing organically and on heritage seeds.

Final purchase.... when I spotted this... I was really excited. I believe it was Sue at 'Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments' that first mentioned to me about a gel that could be put around pots to keep slugs from climbing up them. I'll be trying this organic gel this year to keep slugs off some of my container veg. Fingers crossed it'll help curtail the slugs / snails.

What are your views on going organic??

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Snowdrops on Show

I've been taking lots of photos of snowdrops... and they all pretty much look the same.

Highly recommended for all gardens!
Snowdrops look great growing under trees and shrubs. 
Daffodils are starting to come up and will flower as the snowdrops finish. 
One of the jobs on my 'to do' list is to divide the snowdrops to spread them out a bit. From watching gardening programmes I believe the best time to divide is when they're in flower or before the foliage begins to die down.
Last year I moved some bulbs and planted them individually in this new area. In the background you can see the staggered individual plants (each a single bulb). Over time (over a few years) they will form clumps making a much bigger impact.
Gardening is great for those who are patient.
Snowdrops with a backdrop of Yellow Archangel / Dead Nettle weed.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Crocus and 1st Daffodil

The crocus are popping up throughout the garden  -ever forget where you plant your bulbs?!? It's a nice surprise this time of year!

The yellow crocus are very cheerful, even in the rain, which is what we've been getting today.

Over the years I've bought different crocus packs: "Crocus Botanical Mixed", "Crocus Large Flowering", and "Specie Crocus Mixed".

Crocus coming up through Poached Egg plants / Limnanthes.
Crocus growing along a grass bank. This variety has a sort of stripe. I can't really tell one crocus from another! 
Stripey crocus close up with raindrops.
Purple crocus emerging. 
The daffodils are coming up too. The above clump look to be well on; however... 
As I was walking around the garden I spotted a lone daffodil almost in flower growing amongst a Vinca Minor Argenteo Varigatia.
This will likely be my 1st Daffodil to flower! Last year I spotted my first Daffodil in flower around 26-27 Feb. The post is located at: