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

Monday 19 August 2013

Garden Pests

In case you don't like plant munching creepy crawlies or things that sting... this post contains a few, with photos! 

Pictured left: primarily slug damage. If you look closely you can see some slime trails on the plant leaves. I try to grow organically; apart from using occasional slug pellets (the need for this I blame on Ireland's rainy conditions where slugs thrive). I also make an effort to do evening walks to de-snail and de-slug the garden (evidenced below). 
Above: Slugs and snails in all shapes and sizes. I've grown to appreciate them, however, they are still a nuisance to my plants!
Do you spot something dark on the above nasturtium? I was walking by and did a double take.
Below: upon closer inspection looks like large butterfly eggs had hatched but hadn't time (yet) to do much damage.
These were in clear view so I was able to see them and dispose of them.
However....  these turnips (below) have been devoured by caterpillars - luckily the turnips can still be eaten but the leaves look quite bad.  
Below: caterpillars taken off the turnip plants.

Now to things that sting...
To the right of this path is a walled garden with shrubs and various plants. This time of year plants start to need tidying and shrubs need trimmed. I was out with my secateurs and garden shears when...
I got stung by a wasp - tank tops and gardening not a great combo. Then I noticed several wasps flying about and going in and out of the middle of a large heather shrub. I assume they  have a nest in there. I'm wondering should I try and get rid of the nest since it's in an area I use regularly?
The wasps seem to have a nest right in the middle of this heather shrub (where the whole / opening is)!
Anyone have any experience with wasps nesting in garden shrubs; or tips on what action to take?

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

Thursday 15 August 2013

Mid August Blooms

Valuable plants this time of year include astilbe, crocosmia and lots others! It's mid-August and lots of flowering and strong plants. I'm hoping for colour well into October. Below are photos of what's looking good. 

Left: Echinacea (perennial). I managed to get two of these half price, marked down to £3 / $4.66 at a garden centre.
Crocosmia (above) and astilbe (below) are both valuable plants this time of year.
Above L to R: Rose, astilbe, phlox, leek flower. 
Above: Everlasting sweet pea - comes up every year, however, has no smell.
Above L to R: Carrot flower, everlasting sweet pea, fennel, astilbe.
Above L to R: sunflower, daylily, calendula, courgette flowers.
The petunias were potted up at the end of May and have kept going all summer.
The 15th of the month is Blogger's Bloom Day hosted by May Dreams Gardens. If you'd like to see blooms from around the world click here.

Happy Blogger's Bloom Day!

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

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Weekend Harvests

Some home grown veg harvested at the weekend. I'm finally getting a good supply of courgettes and I'm trying to pick them small, however, it's amazing how quick they grow over a couple of days. I find salads and stir fries really easy to prepare and a good way to get crops eaten.

Harvested left:  Lettuce ‘Little Gem Pearl’, Mint (in the bowl); Courgette (zucchini F1)*Courgette (yellow zucchini) 'Soleil F1'*Spring Onion ‘White Lisbon’, Bean 'Dwarf Purple Queen'*, and a few Bean 'Dwarf French Tendergreen'.

The Purple Queen Bean have done best this year. I'm afraid my 'cobra' bean flopped and the 'Dwarf French Tendergreen' bean hasn't produced very much.

(The above indicates grown from seed.)
Onion 'Stuttgarter' - this is the first time I've managed to grow onion! I lifted them and are in the process of drying them. 
Harvested above:
Lettuce ‘Bijou’ (purple);  Lettuce ‘Little Gem Pearl’, Courgette (zucchini F1)
, Courgette (yellow zucchini) 'Soleil F1'Spring onion ‘White Lisbon’  
I've recently sown a range of Winter lettuces and am hoping they will take me into October for salad; although I do get a bit tired of eating so much salad!

The * above indicates plants grown from seed. My seed list is here

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

Friday 9 August 2013

Community Gardening Update

Above: Design plan for the area below (every dot represents a plant).
It's August and the garden club I've joined is still trying to get caught up on planting flower beds. We had a slow start in Spring and we haven't really made up for lost time. However, we've gelled really well as a new group and we're having lots of fun. This month we're hoping to get all the flower beds planted - there are about 7 beds to plant and it takes way more time than you'd ever think. Also, we're hoping to start growing vegetables this month and will be taking part in a workshop to learn about this.
Above: 'before' photo - the blank canvas.
'after' photo - using the planting design plan we put in the plants.
Above: 'before' photo: In June we planted  raised beds with annuals: snapdragon 'arrow orange'; perilla 'laciniata' (purple foliage); begonia, lobelia 'crystal palace' (purple); alyssum 'golf white'; and a variegated ivy-type plant.
Below: 'after' photo: showing how the beds have filled out in six weeks time.

Above: Two of the largest borders have been planted and almost finished - just a few gaps to fill. There are many bee friendly plants in the beds e.g. verbena, marigold, snapdragon, salvia, lambs ear, scabious, hydrangea.
Another area in progress.
Ever wonder who steals the shopping carts / trollies from the grocery store? Well it wasn't our group, however, a few of these showed up on the property - they were a great help in transporting plants!

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

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Bee Buzzing Summer

Bees and insects are enjoying the garden just as much as we are this time of year! I was at a four-hour bumblebee identification course over the weekend,  which was quite interesting and I was able to get a few photos. I still can't identify bumblebees, but maybe with a bit more practice I'll get better! So I thought I'd share some bee-tastic photos and a few interesting facts from the course...
Only female bumblebees can sting.
More than 1/2 of bee species in Ireland have declined in numbers and 
1/3 are threatened with distinction.
Pollen is stuck to the back leg to carry back to the nest (pictured above). Flower: Snapdragon.
I've leeks flowering in the garden - the insects and bees love them. 
Bumblebees put a chemical marking on flowers to tell other bees the pollen is depleted so they don't waste their time.
Bumblebees are most attracted to the colours: blue-green, violet and ultraviolet.
I'm always trying to capture photos of things buzzing about the garden. This hoverfly looks just a pretty as a bumblebee and is an important pollinator.
Oops -  a wasp - I thought it was a good photo (even if they do ruin picnics and outings!).
One final interesting bit of information from the day - 
There are 100 crops that provide 90% of our food worldwide. 
71 of these 100 crops are bee pollinated.

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

Friday 2 August 2013

Best of July Blooms

July was a warm, sunny month for us in Northern Ireland and the flowers have enjoyed the unexpected long periods of good weather. During July the average high temperature was 22C / 72F - might not sound that warm to those living in other countries but for Ireland it's really great weather (we don't have the need for air conditioning).

Looking over my photos for July, I thought I'd share some of my best flower photos for the month. Many of these plants are still in flower - roses, petunias, etc are great for their long flowering periods.

L-R: Climbing rose, aquilegia (grown from seed), rose, petunia.
L-R: Aquilegia x 2 (grown from seed), chives, leek flowers (grown from seed).
L-R: Petunia, astilbe, foxglove, delphinium (grown from seed).
L-R: Dog rose, unknown, sedum, silverdust/cineraria (grown from seed).
L-R: Nasturtium x 2, Calendula, lupin - (all of these where grown from seed).
I just love the delphinium (grown from seed) and the background of our July blue sky!
May all your blooms be bold and bountiful!

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