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 28 February 2014

Rhubarb Race

Photo above shows 5 days of growth compared to photo below.
The rhubarb race is on and each week I expect the fruit to get bigger and bigger. Last year I was harvesting from May to early July and I'm hoping for the same (if not better) this year. I divided the plant in January and did a swap with another gardener hoping to acquire a new type of rhubarb - neither of us know what variety we had so it'll be interesting to see what happens. This year I have five rhubarb plants - I'm thinking lots of rhubarb eating (crumbles, jam, stewed and served over ice cream)!
How's your rhubarb doing?
Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Seaweed for the Garden

I've read that seaweed is really good in the garden and has many benefits. The Royal Horticultural Society says it's a good substitute for farmyard manure. 

I'm wondering if it's acceptable to take seaweed from the beach, however, from articles I've read it seems ok to do this. In any case, there's a beach not too far from where I live so I collected a bucket of it to use around the flower beds.  As I was doing this, I was wondering if the seaweed would provide a hiding place for slugs and snails? Time will tell.
Above: seaweed spread around some new flower beds. Apparently seaweed shouldn't be dug into the soil but left on top. I've read that if it's dug into the soil it has a negative effect on the soil's nitrogen. However, left on top, it doesn't affect the nitrogen but provides the soil with trace minerals and hormones that stimulate plant growth .

Speaking of seaweed... how you ever tried a seaweed bath?
Seaweed baths are quite popular in Ireland and I had one recently and it was fantastic. A big bathtub filled with seaweed (like the seaweed pictured above). There is an oily, almost slimy, liquid that comes off the seaweed that is supposed to be good for the hair and skin. I would recommend it!

Does anyone else use seaweed in the garden?

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

Sunday 23 February 2014

Cabbage, Kale, Leek - grown in poor soil

The result of growing plants in poor soil... 
I'm growing vegetables in an area of the garden where the soil is very bad as I hadn't the time to prepare it well last Summer. The soil is very rocky, hard clay and very little organic matter dug into the area. Of course this has made an impact on the success of the plants growing. Even so, I think the photos show that plants can survive in poor conditions however they don't necessarily thrive. I aim to improve the soil in March-April by digging in manure and compost.

Left: I don't know much about growing cabbage but I assume this plant is unsuccessful!

Photo Below: A better looking cabbage - I find it hard to tell when to harvest a plant I've little experience growing. Trial and error huh!

Variety: Cabbage January King, Mr Digwell seeds. Seed sown at the end of June; planted into the ground August. 
The seed pack describes Cabbage January King as "a very hard variety with distinctive purple tinge and really solid hearts that hold for long periods in the cold weather."
Above: Kale Nero di Toscanna - also growing in poor soil. Flowers seem to be forming now so I suppose it's time to pull them out.
Above: Kale Dwarf Green Curled - these have grown well in poor soil and keep going strong. I don't really like the texture of these curly plants, however, I eat them in soups. The seed pack describes this plant as "ultra hardy."
Above: Leek Musselburgh - this poor little leek should really be much bigger  - also growing in poor soil. Suppose it's better to have a small leek than no leek at all!

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

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Veg Holes are always Suspicious

On a dry day, I walk around the garden, admiring the lovely chard which over Winters well, and is now beginning to actively grow again. 

Hmm.. I think.. those holes in the leaves don't quite look right. Something must be nibbling. I begin to inspect but don't see anything. I usually blame slugs and snails for everything in the garden. I keep looking the plant over, very thoroughly, and I eventually come across a few little green caterpillars of varying size. I also come across a black caterpillar. 

Caterpillars really helped themselves to my non-netted plants over the summer, and I'm wondering if some of them or eggs have hibernated over the Winter (not that we've had much of a Winter)?

Variety: Chard 'White Silver 2' grown from seed in April and planted outside in June.

Has anyone else noticed caterpillars this time of year?

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

Wednesday 5 February 2014

Snowdrops - A Sign of Spring

This week I've noticed snowdrops coming up everywhere! Snowdrops symbolise Spring is on its way... the daylight is getting longer, the bulbs are making their way up through the ground, and soon it'll be time to sow seeds (I start sowing circa March). 

This is probably the last month (for me) to have the excuse that it's too wet or too cold to be outside digging and such. And even though Spring is on its way, we've a wee bit yet to go - the first day of Spring isn't officially until 20th March!

Snowdrops now... soon to be followed by crocus, daffodils, tulips and other bulbs. Its a great time of year!

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