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

Saturday 26 April 2014

Organic Treatment for Powdery Mildew

Following on from a previous post about an oregano herb plant with powdery mildew, just wanted to update everyone on the organic treatment I used - which has been a success! Photo (left) of the plant with mildew. I had cut all the foliage off the plant thinking this may help, however, the new growth had powdery mildew on it, so I needed to find a solution (or throw it out)... I read an article that recommended using 20-30% milk mixed with water as a treatment for powdery mildew. I did this and it seems to have worked - photo of healthy leaves below.
The plant is growing well and there is no sign of powdery mildew since I treated it. The article said to spray the plant. However, I mixed the milk-water solution and then used my fingers to put it on every leaf of the plant. It didn't take long and seems to have worked. Its great to find treatments that don't involve purchasing chemicals!

If you have any good non-chemical treatments for common plant problems, do share!

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

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Making an Herb Box

I've been wanting to increase my use of herbs and have decided to locate a range of herbs near the kitchen using a newly constructed herb box. Suppose this will be a bit of an experiment as I've not too much experience of growing herbs. I will have to see if there is enough sun and if the plants like the location. The box currently contains a topiary style French lavender, 6 chive plants, 2 types of thyme, marjoram, and 3 types of oregano. 
The herb box includes a well established thyme (far left),  'Country' Oregano which came from a local garden centre, and at the back - chives that are coming into flower (these have been divided from plants in another area of the garden and added to the herb box).
Bought from the local garden centre at a cost of 4 plants for £5 (about $8 US dollars):
Marjoram - I'm not sure how to use this, but will have to learn.
'Hot' oregano smells great with a strong spicy smell. 
The French Lavender topiary was the most expensive plant at £12.99 (about $21 US dollars). I've used purple slate stone as a mulch as I had some spare sitting around.

The herb box is approx 15 inches (width) by 45 inches (length). The wood is decking wood which cost approx £20 to purchase (about $33 Us dollars) and as the labour was free it works out pretty good value for money. Just hope I can manage to keep the plants alive!

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

Saturday 19 April 2014

Easter greetings...

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

Monday 14 April 2014

Herb Challenge

My perception of herbs is that they're fussy plants... not sure if that's true. This year I'm determined to expand my range of herbs in the garden.

A couple of weeks ago I bought 3 plants for £5 (a bargain!). Pictured left: two types of thyme and the bright green one is oregano. The thyme are outside waiting to be planted - a new herb box is a work in progress. And the oregano sits inside on the kitchen windowsill. The problem is - what was a lush oregano plant has been taken over by mildew!
So, I decided to cut back the plant. As you can see new growth is coming very quickly, but the powdery mildew is also coming back. Click to enlarge photo to see.
Who would ever think Oregano would have powdery mildew problems? (I assume this is what it is).

I think tomorrow I will try spraying the plant with milk. I've read using diluted milk approx 10-20% milk  mixed with water should help the situation. Fingers crossed!
Otherwise, I may have to throw it out!

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

Thursday 10 April 2014

Well Done Mark's Veg Plot

This week I did one of my favourite things... bought two gardening magazines while grocery shopping - which cost me £10 (nearly $20 US). Of course the May issue of Kitchen Garden magazine (pictured) included 10 packs of free herb seeds, which I decided I couldn't pass by. 

A few weeks ago a popular chef told me I must add dill and tarragon to my herb acquisition so I'm happy to report I now have dill and tarragon seeds to sow and grow. Most of the other free herbs (coriander, oregano, thyme, parsley, fennel, chives, chervil and basil) I have already, however, I will share with my garden group as we're focusing on herbs this year along with our heirloom garden development.

Skimming through the magazine what did I spot... Mark's Veg Plot featured on page 97. Well done Mark and it's great to see your blog promoted.

It can be hard to find time to read, but when I do have time my two favourite UK gardening magazines are 'Kitchen Garden' and 'Grow Your Own'. Anyone have any other reading recommendations - magazines or good gardening books, do tell? 

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

Monday 7 April 2014

Rhubarb race continues

Photo above and below: shows approx 5 weeks growing difference.
I'm eagerly watching the rhubarb to see how it's growing (and wanting to harvest). This year I made a new rhubarb bed made up of four mature rhubarb pieces from other plants. Two pieces from my own 'dug and divided' plant, and two given to me by one of the garden group members. I should have taken a photo of the giant root system on the rhubarb when I dug it up - the size of a tree trunk. Rhubarb is quite easy to divide - just stick a spade through and slice it into pieces!

Above: I'm trying to force rhubarb (hurry up its growth) by putting a pot over it. And underneath the clay pot....
A small stalk emerging (as well as several slugs hiding). This is the rhubarb given to me in January by a garden group member. It is much slower to grow; I assume as it was put into the ground quite late (in January). Hopefully it will give me a later harvest.

Stewed rhubarb and ice cream will soon be on the menu!

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

Wednesday 2 April 2014

What colour flowers do bees prefer?

It's great to see bees buzzing around the garden! I have pansies at the back door and I've seen a giant bee that looks to be working really hard!

Last August I attended a four-hour bumblebee identification course! Quite a long day but part of it involved going outside and catching bees and insects (I enjoyed trying to photograph them!). 

More on my bee course and photos can be seen by clicking here.
I haven't managed to capture any good photos of bees this year (yet), so these photos are from last April. I've seen some excellent articles and blog posts on the importance of bee friendly gardens and why we shouldn't use chemicals or pesticides in the garden  (so I'll not duplicate).
What colour flowers do bees prefer? From my Bumblebee course it's: blue-green, violet and ultraviolet. I always assumed it would be yellow!

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