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 25 December 2011

Happy Holidays!

Perhaps your getting some Winter sunshine?!? If not and its cold, you might want to check out Bunny Jeans cute little parade of holiday pets:

Note: My little kitty has a BIG ATTITUDE - he's too 'mature' to wear a Christmas hat so I had to draw one onto the picture. Wouldn't he look cute if he did wear a festive little hat! :) 

Happy Holidays!

Thursday 22 December 2011

First Day of Winter & Potatoes

22nd December - the First Day of Winter. It always feels like Winter from November in Northern Ireland.

Photo taken Dec 2010.
I'm down to my last few Maris Peer potatoes which were dug up in Sept. My potato output was low this year. Might be enough to make Christmas day roasties but not enough for roasties and mash.

Potatoes are one of my favourite veg!

Will you be having roasted, mashed, baked or scalloped potatoes on Christmas day?


Thursday 15 December 2011

Blogger's Bloom Day

It's the 15th of the month - Blogger's Bloom Day. And ten days to Christmas!

Left is one of my favourite plants this time of year - Poinsettia. I buy a poinsettia every Nov for the holidays.

Below is a snapshot of the last bit of colour in the garden...
A few roses are still in bloom. Let's just say they aren't looking their best (the plants look rather cold). Normally I would give the  hybrid tea roses a rather hard cut in December, but I haven't bothered.
There are still some Malope blooms but the plants aren't looking too great. This is a hardy annual so surely it won't last much longer.
These primula  look a bit battered.
The topiary azalea plant is in bloom. This was a gift a year or two ago from a friend.
The Irish heather is going strong!
Even some snapdragon are still flowering. These are hardy annuals so shouldn't last much longer.

Calendula Orange King, a hardy annual, struggling on, but almost finished.

Prolific flowering at the minute - Broccoli '(Autumn) 'Green Calabrese'. 

My first year growing broccoli and I didn't manage to eat much broccoli as the plants always seem to want to flower. And they're still flowering!

Happy  December 

Sunday 11 December 2011

Early Muscari and Veg Soup

I noticed a few Muscari bulbs blooming. They usually bloom in March/April so I was a bit surprised to see this.

Last week we had gale force wind up to 80 mile per hour in Northern Ireland. It's been quite cold too.
Today (in the rain) I gathered bits and pieces from the garden to make chunky veg soup. I put it all in a crock pot and let it simmer slowly until done.
Above Soup Ingredients:

kale (nero di toscana),
carrots (nante),
leek (musselburgh),
potatoes (maris peer),
2 parsnip,
salt, pepper, turmeric, 2 pints chicken stock.

Left: Carrots from the wheelbarrow are mostly used up now.
Frost covered kale (photo taken in November). Many of my friends have never eaten kale nor know what it looks like. Many healthy eating books recommend kale for its nutritional value. It's a great veg!

Happy Winter Gardening!

Monday 5 December 2011

1st Snow

Last night we had our first dusting of snow - as I was putting up Christmas decorations! So pretty. Bring on the hats, scarves, gloves and hot chocolate!

Left: picture of the flower border with snow.
Picture of flower border the day before snow.

The roses are still producing. The Malope Excelsior Mixed, (Hardy Annual) are still being productive (I need to deadhead!). They don't seem to be too bothered by the light frost we've had so far.

Happy December
in the Garden!

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Veg Update (Celeriac, Parsnip, Carrot, Pak Choi, Cabbage, Leek)

It's the last day of November and no hard frost yet. We had a hard frost last year around 20th Oct.

I've never grown much veg in the Winter but this year I have a few things still growing...

Celeriac update - I'm still waiting for them to get a decent size. Maybe I need to accept they're only going to be golf ball size. I've used a few celeriac leaves in stews.
Every week I pull carrots from the wheelbarrow.
Carrots (Nantes): seed planted in container (wheelbarrow) on 1st Aug.
Parsnip: seed planted container in May.
This pretty little plant is Pak Choi - planted on 1st Aug in the wheelbarrow with the carrots. I've never grown Pak Choi and not sure what to do with it, but I'm pleasantly surprised slugs haven't devoured it.

Cabbage (Golden Acre/Primo III) - this cabbage has been in the ground growing all Summer. I kind of forgot about it. The seed was started indoor in April and planted outside in June.

Wondering.... will it be bitter, or can I still eat it??
Leek (Musselburgh) - seed planted back in April indoor and transplanted outside in June. The leek are growing slooooww. I've only eaten one so far.

Happy Winter Gardening!

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Container Carrots

My container grown carrots are still doing well and haven't been damaged by the mild frosts. These are growing in an old wheelbarrow.

I'll have to double check the variety (as I forgot to check the label) but they are either James Scarlet or Early Nantes.
Recycled plastic bubble wrap goes over the plants at night to keep them cosy.

You may spot pak choi growing in the wheelbarrow as well. A growing experiment.
I'm delighted to be pulling up carrots in November!

A very Happy Thanksgiving week to 
fellow American bloggers!

Have a lovely day!

Saturday 12 November 2011

Botanic Gardens Autumn Flowers

Belfast Botanic Gardens has a lovely Autumn flower display in their giant glass house. I thought I'd share some of the colourful snaps as our daylight in the UK continues to shorten over Winter. Flowers seem to include chrysanthemum / mums, cyclamen, and ornamental chilli pepper-type plants.

Sunday 6 November 2011

1st Frost

We had our 1st frost today, and since I was posting about sunflowers yesterday I decided to post a frosty edged sunflower (the frost is melting away now). Later today I will be salvaging veg for a big pot of soup.

'Giant Sunflower'

Saturday 5 November 2011

Goodbye Sunflower

It's time to say farewell to the sunflowers.

Most of the Giant Sunflowers (pictured left / photo taken 1st Nov) are on their way out. So sad!

Photo Below: taken 1st Oct.

The Teddy Bear Sunflowers, although the shortest in height of any sunflowers I've  seen, brought some colour to the borders. (Photo taken 1st Oct).

Pictured with Aster.
As of 1st Nov, the Teddy Bear Sunflowers are no more.
I'm not too fussed about growing Teddy Bear again. They were 'ok'.

Giant Sunflowers - photo taken 1st Oct. The Giants were damaged in our late Summer and Autumn gales. Maybe it wasn't the year of the sunflower?!?

Below: At 1st Nov, they're in need of removal. (I put the flower heads on the hedge etc for the birds).

Left: a few (very late) sunflowers - still to flower. They were damaged by pests in early summer (but kept growing)... wondering if they will bloom before the frost gets them.

Sunflowers at their best, Sept 2011.

The red 'Autumn Beauty' Sunflower seeds grew but never flowered - perhaps enjoyed by the slugs and snails!

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Malope - an annual to try?

Malope - what a name for a plant! As there's been no frost (yet), my annuals are still flowering and the Malope are going strong.

This is the first time I've grown Malope and it has its pros and cons...

CON - They seemed to start off growing slow compared to other annuals grown from seed.                                                          

PRO - They give good height, up to 36 inches.
PRO - They make nice bushy plants (once they get going) and look well mixed with roses and most other bedding plants.
PRO - They have lovely flowers, and many flowers.
CON - The flowers seem to droop - I want them to stand at attention!

CON / PRO - It was only in Sept that the plants seemed to be at their best, bushy and full of flowers. (Suppose the weather etc has a part to play).
I ended up with more pink than white flowers. The white are lovely too.

Variety: Malope Excelsior Mixed, Hardy Annual, Carters Tested Seeds, 200 seeds, 79p. Sown 8 May 2011 indoor (high germination). June/July planted outside.

Verdict - I'll grow again next year!