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

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Do seeds expire?

Do seeds really expire? Should they be thrown out? I was watching a gardening programme on TV and they said it was a good time of year to go through your seeds and dispose of any that are out of date (i.e. last year). Looking at the box of seeds (three boxes of seeds) in the corner of my office on the shelf... I wondered how important is the date on seeds? Lifting some seed packs, some say sow by 2016 and some are clearly out of date. Should I use them anyway? The thought of throwing out seeds  saddens me. 

I was planning on going through my 100 or so seed packs and giving any I can't use or don't want to the garden club I belong to. Would they complain if they were 'out of date'!? 

And even though I have numerous seed packs already... I still find I occasionally buy magazines that offer free seeds like the Kitchen Garden magazine above - it came with 11 free seed packs! Even though I was only really interested in the yellow tomato 'lldi' I was so excited about my free seeds!

Do you throw out your old seeds, or sow them in the garden?

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

Friday 24 January 2014

Winter Veg Update

Cabbage, kale and chard are 'super foods' for better health and luckily they're fairly easy to grow. These leafy greens are packed with folate, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, fiber and vitamins A, C and K (as per the health books). 

Here's a little update on leafy veg I've grown from seed that grow well over Winter months. I like to use these in soups, stir fries, and casseroles. I live off homemade soup at this time of year!

Left: Cabbage January King. Seed sown in late June.
Above: Chard 'White Silver 2' was badly affected over the summer by black caterpillars, however, new growth is looking good and can go into soup! Seed sown April.
Above: Kale 'Nero di Toscana'. Seed sown at the end of June, the kale has been slowly growing throughout Summer and Winter. The soil here is rather poor.
Above: Kale Dwarf Green Curled, seed sown at the end of June; very hardy plant. These plants were battered by gales in their early growing period so I imagine this is where the crooked stems comes from? 
Above: Kohl Rabi 'Purple Vienna', grown from seed at the end of June. This plant looks so pretty in the garden I've just left it for ornamental purposes.

Back to making 
soup !

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

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Irish Heather

Isn't Irish Heather lovely this time of year? It is a hearty shrub that flowers for long periods. It's usually sold as a tiny whip of a plant that over time can grow up to a two metre spread, which is what mine have done in the garden. From experience, they don't like to be cut back hard so I've ended up with three monster plants.

Is heather... Irish? Heathers come from many countries, however, I like to call mine Irish even though it could have originated from elsewhere. 
Over the Summer I discovered a wasp nest in this heather shrub (only one sting - boy does it hurt!). I'm hoping the nest won't be back this year - I'll keep you posted.

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

Saturday 18 January 2014

Emerging from Sleep

We had a mild December and a few nights of frost in January with the likelihood of more frost to come.  Outside I've noticed plants with growth emerging - it seems as if Spring is coming early? 

Here are the most noticeable plants showing active growth in the garden...

Left: Fennel, a perennial grown from seed a few years ago, it is sending up feathery looking stalks. They will reach over 6 feet tall this Summer.
Above: A large clay pot outside the back door with chard growing, and what looks like a sweet pea (?) emerging.
Above: A wild foxglove has established itself in the crevice of  a large planter.
Above: Honesty, which self seeds, has put on good growth already.
Below: Poached egg plant / Limnanthes Douglasii, a hardy annual, has been slowing spreading and growing over the months. It doesn't seem bothered by frost or snow.

Above: Sedum Autumn Joy, covered by Irish moss, begins to show new growth.
Below: An alpine sedum spreads and grows over the Winter months.

Have you noticed much new growth in your garden this month?

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

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Super Food - Kale

One of the top 10 super foods(*) for better health includes leafy greens like kale, collards, chard and spinach. In my opinion kale is one of the easiest and versatile vegetables to grow. This year I've grown three types of kale:

-Kale Nero di Toscana
-Kale Curly Scarlet
-Kale Dwarf Green Curled

Pictured is Dwarf Green Curled Kale. It doesn't grow as tall as the other types of kale. Kale withstands frost and snow - a great Winter vegetable!
Above & Below: Dwarf Curly Kale goes from garden to slow cooker for vegetable soup.
Kale is also great in stir fry and young baby kale leaves can be eaten raw in salads.
(*) Top 10 Super Foods is based on an article published by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, USA, 2012.

After a bit of a break in the New Year from blogging, I'm hoping to get back into the routine of reading blogs, taking regular photos of my garden progress, and updating my blog regularly. At times I think, 'where does the time go!' My goals for 2014 include:

1. Begin to research and grow heritage vegetables (at the community garden site);
2. Continue to grow from seed (flowers and veg);
3. Try something new e.g. veg / flowers I've never grown before;
3. Continue to learn and share growing tips and experiences with others.

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