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 31 July 2011

Rose Week 2 of 2

Part 2 of Lady Dixon Park Rose Week - photos of some of the beautiful roses, including two 'royal' roses and Ireland's own 'Wild Rover'. (The only one I have in my garden is Arthur Bell.)

Saturday 30 July 2011

Rose Week 1 of 2

Aren't roses gorgeous!!

Every July Lady Dixon Park, Belfast celebrates Rose Week with a week of free entertainment and activities.

Here are some of the photos I took.
The park contains over 45,000 blooms (who counts!?!), roses from around the world, and trial / display beds throughout. There's even a Princess Diana memorial garden.

Can you manage deadheading all these plants!?!

Tomorrow's post will show some varieties of the eye catching roses (up close) originating from Northern Ireland, England and USA.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Is cheap cheerful? (Echinacea, Red Hot Poker, Iris)

Back in March I bought a few cheapy plant packs for 99p in a pound shop (like the American dollar stores). They're simply root pieces that get planted up (seems easy enough).

Above: the pack and pieces of two root balls, one with sprouts starting. I planted this into a good size pot and labelled it. Always wanted an Echinacea Purpurea!
Left: the resulting plant (the orange one). I definitely see that it isn't Echinacea Purpurea, which I thought I'd purchased. I'm not even sure it's any type of Echinacea? Can you imagine trying to take this back to a dollar/pound shop and asking for 99p back? 
The white flowers are Gypsophila Elegans (Covent Garden White) an annual I grew from seed.

 Below: Close up of flower that was supposed to be Echinacea Purpurea

Left: Another root plant bought and potted up in March was Red Hot Poker. I've always admired this plant ...
and here's the result...
No Red Hot Poker flower so far. All three root pieces are growing but no sign of flowering. The Red Hot Poker are the spiky looking foliage (I've planted an annual in the pot as well).

Maybe Red Hot Poker doesn't flower in their first year? Or maybe it will be late this year?

I also bought a pack of Dutch Iris bulbs and planted them in pots back in March. They've probably been the most successful of the 'cheapy' plant selection.
The irises are finished now but gave several weeks of fab colour this month.

Saturday 23 July 2011

Veg Update (Broccoli, Cabbage, Cucumber, Hot Pepper, Tomato, Turnip)

This is the first year I've grown broccoli and I spotted a spear forming this week!
Variety: Broccoli '(Autumn) 'Green Calabrese'. Sown indoor 8 April 2011. Planted outside mid-June; netted.

Slug control - above the cabbage is a glass of milk sunk into the ground - an attempt to catch/drown slugs.
Variety: Cabbage 'Golden Acre/Primo III'. Sown 3 April 2011 indoor. Planted outside mid-June; netted.

The bush cucumber plant is producing lots of flowers and tiny cucumbers are forming - will I ever get cucumbers large enough to eat?!?

Variety: Cucumber 'Bush Pickle'. Sown 3 April 2011 indoor
The veg box is stuffed with... kale (2 types), 1 x cabbage, 1 x broccoli, celery, celeriac, radish, carrot, turnip and perpetual spinach. The perpetual spinach has bolted. It was sown on 21 April; not sure why it bolted so quickly?

VarietyTurnip 'Purple Top Milan'
I love turnip! It grows quickly, looks good and both leaves and turnip are edible. I use them in casseroles, stews and stir fries.  

The tomatoes are doing well in the sun room. One of the plants has reached the ceiling. This is my first time growing tomatoes and so far so good.

VarietyTomato (Red Cherry), Sown 3 April 2011 indoor.
This week I'm getting hot peppers turning red - yeah! They range in size from less than an inch (tiny) to about 3 inches.
Variety:  Pepper (Hot) Cayenne, Sown 20 Feb 2011 indoor.

One of my salad containers. I thought it was a good idea at the time to put a nasturtium in the pot but on reflection nasturtiums flower best in poor soil so better to plant them elsewhere.
This plant grew from my compost... it looks like a courgette or maybe a melon of some sort - time will tell.

Hope your veg is pest free & productive!

Monday 18 July 2011

Slug Wars

This post contains photos that may be disturbing. 

Left: Snail munching through young delphiniums.
I've pointed out the evidence of slug(s) amongst my courgette /zucchini - trails of slime and nibbles out of the plant. Probably a smallish slug or it would have eaten more.

This slug lives in my compost bin so I leave him alone. I just hope he doesn't visit my cabbage at midnight! (I'm assuming slugs are good for composting; never really thought about it until now.)

Left: This little fellow climbed up a delphinium plant and was hanging on a small branch he seemed to be munching.

Slug Facts*...
  • The average UK garden has a population of over 20,000 slugs and snails.
  • Only 5% of the slug population is above ground. 95% is underground digesting seedlings, laying eggs, and feeding on roots and seed sprouts.
  • A cubic metre of garden will on average contain up to 200 slugs.
The underneath of the above slug. Can't believe he has balanced on this tiny branch whilst having his dinner.

(He's kinda cute.)

Party days started in June for the slugs when I served up Guinness!
Left: The outcome of the beer traps - lots of drowned slugs. They love Guinness and Coors Light - but beer is just too expensive at circa £1.30 per can! 

Cheaper idea - I decided to mix dried yeast packs (only cost 79pence per box) with water and pour into the 'beer traps'. This DOES NOT attract slugs! 
Next I'll be trying milk. 

My war against slugs continues!
For a long list of slug control measures have a look at -

Friday 15 July 2011

Bloggers Bloom Day

Top two photos - Papaver 'Picotee Mixed' poppy grown from seed.
Above (bottom): Amaranthus 'Pony Tails' grown from seed.
Above L-R: Astilbe, Aquilegia from seed, Astilbe, Rose.  
L-R: Gypsophila Elegans (Convent Garden White) from seed, Wild Foxglove, Geranium, Hosta.  
 Above: Iris, California Poppy Special Mixed from seed. Bottom photo: Climbing Hydrangea flowers.

 Above: L-R Shrub (name unknown), Astilbe, Nicotiana from seed. Bottom Right: Lady's Mantle flowers.
Above: Aquilegia from seed, Sheep's ear.
Delphinium from seed, Iris.
Above: L-R: Antirrhinum (Snapdragon) 'Intermediate Mixed' from seed,  Papaver 'Picotee Mixed' poppy.
Bottom Left: unknown. Rose (think it's Arthur Bell).
 L-R: Courgette (yellow zucchini) 'Soleil F1, Cucumber bush plant.
Bottom: Echinacea with white Gypsophila Elegans (Convent Garden White), Echinacea close up.
L-R: Calendula from seed. Nasturtium from seed. Hypericum St Johns Wort. California Poppy Special Mixed.

More on Bloom Day: