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

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Veg Villains (courgette, bean, sunflower, radish)

Not long ago (18th May) I was posting my first courgette flower. I hardened off the courgette plants and planted one in a large pot out the back door near the kitchen (so I could keep an eye on it).

To my horror, something nibbled my first courgette! At first I thought something big like a bird, but you can see in the photo the guilty well fed slug.

Not just one slug but a whole family of slugs were having a feast on my first courgette (photo below).

Above: Something is eating its way through my potatoes too - maybe slugs?
Ants seem to be nibbling on my sunflowers! I didn't know ants eat sunflowers?

I seem to have a record number of ants this year!
Left: the remains of one of my Purple Queen Dwarf Bean plants. It wilted the day after I planted it into the ground. 

I lifted the plant to have a look and the whole thing came away. At first I thought it may have something to do with a large chive plant I dug up & moved; I put the bean in its place. But the roots have been devoured so maybe something was eating on it? Or it could have gotten damaged by the recent gales as I was hardening it off outside... ?
Suppose the good news... even if some little critter (probably a slug) took the first bite out of my radish (bite pictured in the photo), I did pull up a few radishes to eat. This time they are lovely, not like the radishes I posted about on 29th April that had been growing over winter (big mistake; what a learning curve).

What to do with  my radishes...
I had chunky Irish stew planned for dinner so I put some home grown rocket on top with sliced radishes. Maybe a strange combination, but quite yummy. 

I've had lots of problems with blogger this week and I haven't been able to comment on many blogs. Very frustrating!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Luvin Lupins

I'm luving the lupins... who wouldn't be a fan?!!? Variety: Lupin Russell Mix (perennial), grown from seed several years ago.

The pot grown lupin are slower to flower.

 The Aquilegia (tall plant behind lupin) doesn't compare although I do like its height and delicate flowers.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

If it rains eat cake (not cows)

The past two weeks were filled with gales and rain.

New neighbours arrived at the weekend. Eleven young beef cows. They're curious and watched me potter about in the garden in between rain showers.
The don't look very friendly - yet.
Above:  The courgette was hardened off last week and this one was planted into a pot outside at the weekend. Variety: Courgette (zucchini F1), Carters Tested Seeds, 20 seeds, 79p. Sown: 3 April 2011.
Above: The Purple Queen Dwarf Bean are in flower. Two have been planted outside. The others will be hardened off this week. Variety: Bean 'Dwarf Purple Queen', Mr Fothergills, 100 seeds £2.35. Sown: 3 April 2011.
All my digging and planting exhausted the poor cat.
"If it rains eat cake." So that's what I did in between rain showers. Unfortunately the strawberries weren't homegrown as my strawberries have a long way to go. There's a layer of lemon curd in the middle with the cream. Ever notice how store bought strawberries have very little flavour!?

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Veg - Courgette,Chive, Potato, Seedlings

I've had my first courgette (zucchini) flower! I've started to harden off some of the plants as they need to go outside. I've 4 plants that will provide me with yellow courgettes and two plants that will provide green courgettes. I think I see a little courgette forming above! (The flowers of courgette and chive are edible).
 Chives are starting to flower.
 Potatoes have been earthed up. A little pest damage; the two plants behind this big one have been eaten down to the ground. I picked off a few snails last night so will have to keep a watch on this.
 The Veg Box has been 'cat proofed' (all the sticks over it) and planted with Radish, Turnip, Carrot, Kale and Spinach. I've no structured crop rotation plans. I'm just gonna plant as I wish.
Above: I think this is turnip. Looks like I need to do a bit of thinning. 
I've started hardening off the Dwarf Purple Queen Beans - taking them outside during the day and inside the  conservatory/sun room at night. They're getting too big to be inside.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Blogger's Bloom Day

It's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - the 15th of every month.

Here's what's blooming...

Left: Centaurea (possibly Centaurea Montana).
California yellow Poppy; not sure what the purple plant is called. I see it in loads of gardens.
Lupin Russell Mix with purple Bugle in the background.
Poached Egg Plant 'Limnanthes Douglasii' grown from seed. Hardy annual that self seeds. The seed pack says its a good companion plant to roses as it attracts hoverflies which feed on greenfly.
Hawthorn tree flowers.
Name? It seems to self seed, maybe an annual of some sort.

Strawberry plants in flower.

Aquilegia Long Spurred Hybrid.

Armeria - I've seen these growing on our Irish beaches along the rocks.

More on Bloom Day:

Friday, 13 May 2011

Oh pest where art thou

All of a sudden I'm noticing many pests in the garden. My self-fertilising apple tree has green worms on it. I suppose this is why I get limited apples each year.

This is damage from the green worms... they will keep eating and eating. So.. I've been green worm hunting this week.

Aphids....  out of nowhere one of my roses is absolutely covered in the little green creatures. So... I've been out aphid squishing this week. Where are the ladybugs and lacewigs when I need them?
Snails and slugs came out in droves after our spell of warm weather and then a big rain. So... I've been out snail collecting this week.

She's not really a garden pest, although caught in the act... sleeping on top of my pots. I've decided to give her this one and I've 'cat proofed' all the others.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Aquilegia 'pick n mix'

Last summer I grew Aquilegia from seed. This is their first year flowering.  Pictured below are the results.

Variety: Aquilegia Long Spurred Hybrids, Suttons 'Cottage Garden' Seed Collection, £4.25.

Aquilegia are nice, however, delphinium is still my favourite cottage garden style plant for impact followed by Lupin.