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

Thursday 27 June 2013

Veg Update (lettuces, potatoes, celery, etc)

Chives are looking fantastic! I've been harvesting radishes 'Scarlet Globe' and some lettuce. Courgettes don't seem to be growing much. I'm having more success with salad type plants this year and most nights I do a slug and snail safari hunt to protect my crops. I'm eager for turnip, beetroot and spring onion to be ready for harvest (to spice up my salads). 
Potatoes 'Charlotte' (First Early) were planted on 24th April. They are in a raised veg box this year and hoping they will produce a good yield. Celery, grown from seed last Spring, was left in the veg box over Winter and is actively growing (as per photo below). I see some nibbles on the celery but think it will give me a good supply.

I thought the rhubarb was finished but it seems to keep growing. I might just get away with another crumble!
In the square metre / square foot 'experimental Veg Box' - most of these plants were bought as plug plants.
There are: Lettuces ‘Bijou’ (5 plants), ‘verpia’ (5 plants), ‘little gem pearl’ (5 plants). Beetroot ‘Solist’ (10 plants), Spring onion ‘white lisbon’ (10 plants), onion stuttgarter and a couple of dwarf bean plants and 2 chard plants.
In the 2nd square metre / square foot 'experimental Veg Box' - all these plants were grown from seed. There are turnip, lettuces, carrots, calundula, nasturtiun and two types of radish Radish'Hilds blauer Herbst und Winter' and 'Red Meat'. The red meat became stressed (probably planted too close together) and set seed so I pulled them out and have planted mizuna salad seeds. Some of the lettuces are too close so I will have to harvest some young plants for salad.

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

Monday 24 June 2013

No Blinking in June

June is full of surprises... each day the garden looks different. I was away for a few days and suddenly the garden seems to have come to life with flowers everywhere; some plants showing some dominance by spreading and taking over areas; other plants showing weakness and losing their ground. There are lots of buds and lots of growth (including lots of weeds). 

It seems the warmer weather combined with rain showers have really provided good growing conditions. Here's what's currently making a show...

Left and below: Aquilegia / Columbine grown from seed a few years ago. 
Did you spot the bee?
Of course my cat 'Ginger' likes to walk with me as I take photos.
Above: I love the purple/blue and bright pink Geranium. These were divided and moved to new areas in the garden last Spring, and they seem to have established well.
Above: The lupin seem to have suddenly come into flower and already need some old flowers removed to help prolong their flowering period.
The poached egg plant / Limnanthes Douglasii (originally introduced to the garden 2 or 3 years ago by seed ) are a hardy annual that self seed and establish their dominance in the borders. They must like heavy clay soil.
Above: I find it interesting that poppies establish themselves every year in the tiniest of cracks in between the paving slabs.
Above: Rose 'Arthur Bell' surrounded by Poached Egg Plant and  pink Geranium.  I generally don't spray roses with chemicals, hence the black spot on the lower leaves.
This is one of the borders I haven't much time to look after, however, sometimes plants just look after themselves.
Here's hoping July and August are as lovely as June!

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

Friday 21 June 2013

Tools of the Trade

Above: My garden needs quite a bit of trimming over the months 
(photo taken Aug 2012).
Have you ever been asked what your favourite garden tool is? I do love my garden tools. I’m not sure about a favourite, but I have tools that I use regularly and couldn’t do without, such as:

- Hand fork for weeding;
- Digging fork;
- Spade / shovel;
- Secateurs;
- Hand sheers;
- Bucket; scissors; wheelbarrow; twine; sticks/ poles.

With roughly an acre of a garden, which includes lots of hedge, shrubs, trees, perennials and other plants I’ve gone through quite a few garden tools over the years, and broken several digging forks and numerous secateurs. This year I’m trying a new brand (new to me) – Spear and Jackson as I’ve read good things about them. I’ve gone for value for money, and since I needed several tools, I saw that Argos had a three piece set (secateurs, hand shears, and loppers, plus a free blade sharpener) for £34.99 (now reduced to £29.99). I’m also trying out their digging fork too – a necessity in Northern Ireland’s clay soil! I’m hoping to have these tools for a lifetime. They seem quite sturdy.

Left: My new tools – I almost don’t want to use them – but I must!

Below: One of my first tasks was digging over an area to make a new planting bed. This may sound easy but with compacted clay soil it’s a tough job. Two or three days later I have the soil dug over (I find the fork more useful than a spake for this), and plants planted. I love those purple Heuchera! And I love that hostas are so easy to divide in early Spring to make lots of new plants.
I‘ve found the Spear and Jackson digging fork, hand shears and loppers to be quite heavy, however, if they last a long time then I don’t mind if they’re a little heavy (as long as they don’t break!). So far so good; and they do seem sturdy and well built.
New hand shears christened by trimming an over growing clematis.

All work and no play... not exactly. I’m not one for garden gnomes and such but I do like the look of this polyresin heron as it reminds me of Florida and sunny weather. And wouldn’t you know it, once I placed it in the garden we had ten days of good weather (probably a coincidence).
Argos also sell Spear and Jackson so if you want to have a look – click here

Do you have a favourite garden tool? 
Or a favourite garden figurine (gnomes and such)? Do tell!

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

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Goodbye Rhubarb

The last of the rhubarb pickings. I've left a few stems on the plant as I've always read not to deplete the plant fully. This Autumn I'll have to divide the plant as it is quite big and hasn't been divided (probably in ten years). 

Below is a photo of one of the numerous rhubarb crumbles I've made. This one had pear in it as well. My favourite way of eating rhubarb is stewed and served warm over ice cream. Rhubarb  sliced and cooked on puff pastry - is also really delicious. I had hoped to freeze some rhubarb but I've eaten it all!
So now it's goodbye to rhubarb until next year! 

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

Monday 17 June 2013

Bloggers' Blooms

The garden is a bit sparse of colour this month compared to last year this time. However, there are still bits and pieces in flower, mainly poached egg plant, aquilegia and a few others.

Last year by mid June the lupin and foxglove were already well into flower (and I had courgette flowers as well). This year many plants are late. To see my 2012 blooms click here.

Left: Oriental Poppy.
Above: Poached Egg Plant / Limnanthes Douglasii, (Hardy Annual) self seed freely and are welcome blooms this time of year. 
Acquilegia - a plant I never remember how to spell its name (and always have to look it up).
I believe this plant is called Saxifraga Urbium, mixed in with some purple bugle and carex grass.
Centaurea are lovely vintage type plants.
I'm thinking this is a type of sedum, however, I'm not sure - anyone any ideas?
To view fantastic blooms from gardens around the world, check out:

Happy Bloom Day!

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

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Veg Update (celery, radish, onion, etc)

Celery, Plant Hart's Seeds, Sown April 2012; over wintered.
June brought some great weather and we had over a week without rain (yeah) and temperatures in the 20sC / 70sF.  However, this meant I had to water plants and seedlings, and I lost a few trays of seedling to the scorching sun - never water tender little seedlings when the sun is beating down as it just fries them. Here's what has been happening in the veg garden in early June...

Left: The celery is growing as cut and come again. It looks as if I'll soon have some stalks to use.
I harvested my first hand full of radishes 'Scarlett Globe' and have more to use this week. I'll be glad of the space to plant some other seeds. I'll plant more radish in between other plants.
The onion in the veg box seem happy. 
Courgette planted out last week. I was at an allotment and the grower put a plastic pot (with the bottom cut out) around his courgettes. I think he said it kept them from rotting so I'm trying it... not really sure about the benefits of this?
With the sunny weather the seeds germinated and are growing well; I've been thinning already but have more to do. Carrots, calendula, 3 types of radish, turnip, lettuces, nasturtium and bean are all within this bed (square foot gardening idea).
I purchased two new types of radish to try - Radish Red Meat and Radish Hilds Blauer Herbst. They're growing well as per the photo below. They take longer to grow than most radish and the pack suggests lifting them in November. It will be interesting to see how they do and if they are worth taking up space for so long. Anyone else grow these before? It would be good to know what you thought.

I've more seeds to sow and more ground to maintain - so I'm off to the garden!

For more information on the seeds I've sown click here.

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

Thursday 6 June 2013

Early June in the Garden

June has brought some really nice weather with days reaching over 20C / 70F which is really warm for Northern Ireland. This means we haven't had much rain and the plants are getting quite thirsty now.

Here's a little peak at June in the garden...

Left: The aquilegia / columbine are flowering and looking fab.

Lots of of growth including the pink thrift / armeria. I always forget the name of the plant with the white flowers but they self seed around the garden and are a lovely plant.
Above: A glimpse of a little pond made from sinking a plastic container down into the ground, made by my nephew last summer. Plants like poached egg plant and geranium have grown around it. No frogs spotted yet this year.
Above and below: The Forest Flame /Pieris has gone from red to leaves looking rather peachy. Perennials are coming up including phlox, lupin, geranium, sedum and columbine.

The hosta is looking happy; the slugs and snails often snack on it at night but haven't nibbled to much - yet.
These super-duper, large flower stalks are over 6 feet tall - I saw them at Belfast Botanic Garden and thought they were wonderful. Not sure what they are. Anyone have any idea?
Happy June in the Garden!

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

Monday 3 June 2013

Head Start with Salads

Most years I haven't had much success growing lettuce from seed (not sure why) so this year I saw an offer in the Kitchen Garden magazine that offered 35 salad plants for £4.99 (which I thought was a great offer) so I put an order in. 

Pictured left is lettuce 'little gem' I unwrapped and have planted out. For some reason I've never been able to germinate 'little gem' from seed. I was quite happy with the plants sent to me and they're bigger than I thought they'd be.
The package arrives - plants neatly wrapped and still moist on arrival. A few little black flies arrived in the box as well (which I thought was a little funny).
Above and below: other plants as they were unwrapped and planted.
The veg bed planted up - the plants look a little limp but I imagine once they're established they'll be fine. The 35 plants for £4.99 were:
10 x Beetroot Solist
5 x Lettuce Bijou
5 x Lettuce Little Gem Pearl
5 x Lettuce Verpia
10 x Spring Onion White Lisbon

Here's hoping I can keep the slugs and snails away!

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