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 17 November 2013

Forest Flame and the Irish Garden

One of the most common plants in Irish gardens is the Pieris evergreen shrub. Not sure why these plants are so popular, maybe because they're inexpensive and fairly hardy. I see it in garden after garden; I have three in my own garden. It's one of those plants that changes appearance throughout the seasons. I used to think these plants were all 'Forest Flame' but looking on the internet there are different varieties such as 'Bert Chandler'. I still think I have the 'Forest Flame' variety which is probably one of the most common Pieris type.
Above: Photo taken Oct 2013 - The little white flowers are an added benefit in the garden - although the flowers aren't particularly noticeable from afar.
Above: Photo taken May 2013 - the young leaves are starting to turn bright red.
Above: Photo taken June 2013 - the young foliage goes from bright red, to pink, and cream. Then to green.
Above: Photo taken October 2013 - I find the shrub slightly difficult to shape, therefore, they can look a little untidy (as in this photo). I believe this shrub only takes light pruning after flowering but I usually forget.

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

Sunday 10 November 2013

Inspiration on Growing Veg

Photos taken 26 Oct 2013.
Our volunteer gardening group went to visit some gardens to look at how we might develop our own gardening project at Antrim Castle Gardens. We went to a volunteer run gardening project in Cloughmills, Northern Ireland at the end of October and it was a day full of ideas and inspiration.

Left: The group's communal area, with gardening areas, yurt (round tent) and tires used to grow herbs like sage, lemon balm, mint, etc.
The group have many raised boxed in areas of different shapes and sizes to grow veg and fruit. The one above has leeks down the middle with green manure plants growing to add nutrients to the soil over the Winter.

Above and Below: The group have a Mongolian yurt (costing £4,000)- this is  a large tent with a lovely furnace in the centre of it, which is great in the Winter - warm as toast! The group use this for events and for serving their homemade soup and other food made from the organic veg and herbs from the garden.
Above and Below: The benefits of a polytunnel are huge - the growing season is extended and plants grow much bigger and seem healthier. Below are some of the lovley organic veg grown in the large polytunnel. 

What a day it was! And probably the biggest and best looking organic veg I've seen!

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

Thursday 7 November 2013

Community Garden Update

Our volunteer garden group have planted up our 8 new veg boxes with winter vegetables including: scallions, perpetual spinach, two types of kale, winter salad, and winter calabrese/ broccoli. The organic plants were supplied by a local market garden whereas next year we hope to grow our own from seed. We are likely to sell our veg to fundraise for the group, however, this is still to be decided. Our group had the help of an experienced veg grower who suggested the layout of our beds.
This photo shows the veg boxes at the far left before they were planted. The two planting boxes above are for fruit - strawberries and rhubarbEarlier in the month we planted a range of fruit trees - apple, pear, gooseberry bushes, etc.
Above: some of our members planting  fruit trees. One of the apple trees had about 5 apples on it, which the group were delighted about. However, they were stolen before we could harvest them. Suppose this is the slight downside to gardening in an area that is open to the public every day. 

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

Monday 4 November 2013

Late Salad Trials

This year I'm trying to keep a supply of salad leaves going through early Winter. I've sown a few different varieties. However, one salad veg has caused me confusion over the months - Radicchio 'Palla Rossa'. The seed pack photo (see seed pack below) looks more like a cabbage. 

Left: my Radicchio, 5 months into growth, looks more like a lettuce; pretty but it tastes very bitter and inedible. (I kept waiting for it to look like the photo below before harvesting.)
Above: The seed pack description of Radicchio 'Palla Rossa'. I sowed seed again in late July and they too look to be developing the same way as my top photo. Every year I try to grow some new veg, some a success and some not a success. I suppose I would have to say my Radicchio looked pretty, but was disappointing.
Above and Below: On a more positive note, in early August I sowed seeds called 'Winter Blend' and they seem to be a mix of mizuna, mustard, kale and rocket to make up salads. They're doing well and hoping they'll keep me going a bit longer in salads.

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

Friday 1 November 2013

Winter Veg

My winter veg consists of three types of kale, Spring cabbage, chard, winter lettuces, leek, broccoli spring onion and bits and pieces still holding on from the Summer. 

Left: Grown from seed: Kale Dwarf Green Curled and Cabbage January King
Above: Kale Nero di Toscana with Kale Dwarf Green Curled.

Cabbage January King - I think I finally got all the caterpillars picked off; now watching out for slugs.
Above: Broccoli I've been told will grow over the winter. Not sure of its name.
Above: A few beetroot grown from seed at the end of June. 
Chard 'White Silver 2' has been a staple diet for caterpillars all summer. 
Amongst the Autumn leaves are a selection of late summer salad leaves 'Winter Blend' which are slow to grow but looking hopeful.

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