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

Friday 31 May 2013

End of May Overview

The rhubarb has kept me well supplied.
May has been quite a mixed month with cold spells, gales, rain and a few fine days reaching up to 19C / 66F (which is fantastic weather for Northern Ireland). Finally there should be no risk of frost! It's a busy time of year with weeds needing seen to, areas to be tidied, tall plants to be staked, and plants grown from seed needing hardened off before they're planted outside permanently. 

Here's a little summary of the garden in the month of May...
The apple tree has started to blossom.
Plants remain cosy in the greenhouse. Beans (French and Purple Queen) to be hardened off for a week and then planted outside. Other plants in the greenhouse include chard, calendula, marigold, courgette, squash and peas.
The veg beds are beginning to fill up with plants. I've been thinning seedling this week. Seed sown in April germinated outside very well (bed to the far left). I was a bit surprised as it seemed quite cold at the time. Onion Stuttgarter and lettuce showing in bed to the right.
Are these moths or butterflies? There are lots of them around (a bit difficult to spot the darker one in the photo). 
Aubretia grown from seed. 
Quite a few bees have been spotted this month, this one on a bergenia.

Solomon's Seal is on display this month.
And poached egg plant, Limnanthes douglasii, introduced to the garden from seed, now self seeds freely.

Have a great weekend!

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Bloggers' Networks and Perks

The package arrives.
Isn't it exciting when a little package arrives!

In December I joined the UK Spalding Bulb Blogger Club and I was able to choose a plant from their catalogue for free. I chose a Hydrangea 'Magical Moonlight' which arrived in its dormant stage which is the perfect time for planting. I planted it straight away in a pot and waited and waited.... and finally this month I see some growth  (pictured below) - hooray for Spring growth. I'm sure it'll get established in no time and I'm hoping for some lovely white blooms this Summer. If you click on Hydrangea you will see what the plant will look like in flower (it's lovely).

Dec 2012 - dormant Hydrangea.
May 2013 - Spring growth.

Spalding also sent me 100 bulbs of various types - tulip, allium, anemone, narcissus, muscari and iris. Due to the Christmas holidays I planted the bulbs in pots in January. However they're doing well as per the photos below.
Narcissus Tete-A-Tete planted with Muscari are currently in flower.
(Photo taken 7 May 2013.)
The Tulips are lovely and more still to come.  I believe tulips are a bit later this year. 
(Photo taken 24 May 2013.)
 If you're interested in this opportunity do get in touch with Spalding. They also run Blogger Club competitions during the year - see example here.

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Sunday 26 May 2013

Veg Planting Trial and Error

This year I'll soon have two additional raised beds for growing veg; they're currently in progress and not quite fully built (photo left). However, I'm starting to  use them already.

My plans are to trial some of the suggestions from the book, 'Square Metre Gardening' by Mel Bartholomew. I've read articles on this type of gardening in magazines so I ordered Mel's book (on a whim) and am looking forward to testing some of his ideas. A metre is roughly 3 feet 3 inches (perhaps a typical veg box size for a small garden) and the idea is that you plant crops in smaller 12 x 12 inch squares within your veg box (rather than the more traditional way of planting in long rows). Each smaller square is planted with a type of crop and the book helps you understand how many plants to put in any given square e.g.  4 lettuces, or 16 radishes. If you're wondering what all the sticks are in my raised bed, they're squares marked out, plus extra sticks for cat proofing measures to keep them from using the area as their powder room and play pit.
Above: A sample of a planting scheme in the book.
I've got Stuttgarter Onion planted in two of my squares. 
Some seedlings (radish, lettuce, etc) coming up.
I haven't measured my squares exactly but am using the book as a guide. I'll  be adapting things slightly but plan to try out  the 'square metre style' of gardening. I'll keep you posted on the results over the Summer!
Plants growing in the little greenhouse, soon to be re-homed to the raised veg beds.

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Thursday 23 May 2013

Veg Update (leek, celery, onion, fennel, rhubarb)

Today’s radio headline: ‘coldest Spring in 30 years’.  It would feel much warmer if we didn't have such windy conditions. 

The Northern Ireland Met Office has indicated that the mean UK temperature for spring (March, April, May) 2013 will be around 6.1°C (43F), which would make it the 6th coldest spring in national records dating back to 1910 and the coldest since 1979 when the mean temperature was 6.0 °C  (43F). Burrr.

This post links in with the weather, as it includes plants that don't seem to mind the cold weather.

Left: Leeks don't mind a bit of cold; this one was planted last Spring, wasn't eaten, and continues to grow; likely to begin to flower soon.
I was delighted to learn that celery can be treated as a 'cut and come again' crop so I left last year's crop in the ground all Winter and it hasn't minded the cold weather. Here it is starting to green up and grow; looking good.
Onions 'Stuttgarter' were planted into the ground last week and don't seem to mind the cooler Spring weather.
Fennel is getting fluffier by the day. Wondering how I can use some of it - maybe a casserole of some sort?
The rhubarb has been harvested over the last four weeks and still more crumbles to make!
I've planted numerous seeds direct outside and undercover, all of which are slowly making progress. I think I'll try to keep courgette covered as long as possible as they seem to dislike a Spring chill. I'm hoping to get dwarf beans (French and Purple Queen) planted outside in early June. Just hoping we get some nicer weather!

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Saturday 18 May 2013

Garden Inspiration

Friday was a beautiful, warm, sunny day so I headed to a Garden Festival after work to see what they had to offer. The garden event takes place every year but this is my first year going - I had a free admission ticket so felt I must check it out. It wasn't anything close to the Chelsea Flower Show however there were a few things of interest. UK's own garden guru, Monty Don, was at the event and did a question and answer session. I'm a fan of Monty so enjoyed this. Some of the plant prices were quite dear at the show - e.g. £10 for a tiny bit of hosta. Needless to say I didn't make any purchases.

I did find some inspiration at the show and enjoyed the surroundings. Below are a few photos of what I thought were interesting features.
The theme of the garden design competition at the show was 'Painting with Plants'. The teams had one day to plant up their design in a 3mx3m space. Below are some of the designs as well as some of the other displays at the show.
Above and Below: A wildlife garden - maybe you can spot a hedgehog home and frog home (a close up of the frog home is in the photo below). I like the little pond in an old barrel.
Isn't the little bunny cute which made up part of a designer's display.
Flower cupcakes - a great idea for parties!
Hope you enjoyed the tour. More info on the event can be found by clicking here.

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Bloggers Bloom Day

It's Blogger's Bloom day and there are a few things blooming in the garden. I think many plants are a little behind schedule this year, however, soon there'll be blasts of colour throughout  the garden (hopefully).

LeftNarcissus tête-à-tête planted with Muscari. These bulbs were planted quite late (in January); they provide a welcome little splash of colour.
Forest Flame (Pieris) looks great this time of year with the red foliage. This is a very common plant in Northern Ireland - with many homes having this in their borders.
It's great to see bees out and about.

Muscari bulbs planted along the driveway and under hedging.

Aubretia 'Springtime Mixed', (Hardy Perennial) grow from seed.

Heather is always a favourite this time of year.
Bloggers' Bloom Day is hosted by May Dreams Gardens. To see what's in bloom in other gardens click here.

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Monday 13 May 2013

Plants Slumber No More

Aquilegia (Columbine) - soon to flower.
This week (in between rain, sun, gales and hail stones) I can see plants have emerged from their sleep and the race is on to see what plants turn out bigger and better than last year... well, that's my hope anyway. 

Looking around the garden it's great to see plants have survived the wet conditions we had earlier in the year. There was quite a bit of water lying over the Winter as snow melted and with clay soil I've areas in the garden with poor drainage and this makes for unhappy plants. I've wondered if I would have  casualties this year; I think there will be a few.

Here are a few photos of things to come... always nice to see perennials emerging and signs of Spring / Summer flowers.
Above: Delphinium with sticks around to support it as it grows.
Ferns awake from their sleep and stretch upwards.
Above: The masses of green plants around the roses are Poached Egg Plant which will soon flower and continue to self seed.
I love seeing hosta emerge - the snails seem to like these plants too and are sure to be making dinner plans!
Fennel, grown from seed last year, is growing rapidly and will reach about 2 feet tall this Summer.

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Thursday 9 May 2013

Seed Sowing Methods

My little, inexpensive $14.99 greenhouse with plastic cover is a big success; I only wish I had three of them as they make an excellent, cosy environment for sowing seed! The trouble will be planting-on as my green house is quite full already. I think I'll try to harden off some plants this week and then cover them if we get cold weather later this month. I'm assuming the onions (bottom shelf) can now go into the ground. Maybe Sue at Green Lane Allotments can advise. (I'm new to onion growing.)

With the recent better weather I've decided to use a raised veg box (pictured below) as a trial seed bed and I've sown a variety of  seed including different types of lettuce, radish, as well as leek, turnip, nasturtium, and calendula outside to see if the seeds will germinate. I've had difficulties in the past getting seed to germinate when sown outside due to a range of challenges such as poor weather conditions / too much rain, or hungry-munching slugs. However I thought I'd give it a go this year and see what happens; plus I have lots of seeds that need used. I'm wondering what sort of success rate I'll have (if any) sowing direct outside. (The soil was covered and warmed for several weeks beforehand.)
The seeds sown above - I've placed bamboo canes strategically across the area to deter cats - otherwise they'd be using the area as their outdoor powder room and digging pit.

My seed list for 2013 can be seen by clicking here.

Happy Seed Sowing!

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.