Wednesday, July 30, 2008

High summer

This is how the garden looks mid July. Lots of colour from the runner beans, and the sunflowers - which are providing support for the borlotti beans - who are providing nitrogen for the squash at the bottom. It seems to be working great. You can see leeks, carrots in the chimney pipes, calendula, nasturtiums, potatoes, carrots, corn, mizuna.
In the foreground is an apple tree - in a pot - this one belongs to the school, and will hopefully be planted this winter.

There are paths between the beds, but what is in the beds is very close together. I have been trying square foot gardening - a bit, not all the palntings are in a perfect square - but the density is keeping the weeds suppressed, and because we have lots of manure and compost in the beds, fertility isn't a problem. Also, regular watering with Worm tea seems to help.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Best Brocolli

 We had 3 excellent Calabrese plants, this one was the best. Leo is proudly holding it. I didn't leave the plants in the ground after we harvested the central one, though that might have resulted in side shoots - but they are huge plants, and we don't have a shortage of plants to harvest at the moment.
Interestingly, I planted Calabrese and purple sprouting at the same time - Feb/March - but it looks like the Calabrese has a much shorter cycle. The PSB doesn't seem to be doing anything interesteing yet, though they are growing big (and overshadowing everything else in the bed beside them)
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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Huge carrots


These ones went into a large planter in early March. We covered the planter in white fleece, so the cat thought it was a lovely bed. Eventually, though, the carrots greew, and this is the result - most a foot or so in length, and tasty with it! This is another experiment we'll have to replicate next year. The carrots have to be our best crop yet in Mullingar, in the 3 harvests since we started gardening here.
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Purple carrots

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Purple is one of our favourite colours - it was our wedding colour, so any purple vegetables are popular in our house. This year we tried Thomposon and Morgan's Purple Haze Carrot - and it's a keeper! We still have quite a few growing in the chimney pots, and they are doing great, and tasty when harvested! Definitely one for next year.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dealing with slugs

Since we got frogs, I can't put down slug pellets any more. Returning from our week away, we were ravaged by slugs in our absence, so we have declared war.
We have been baking egg shells in the over, and surrounding seedlings - seems moderatel successful. Also trying broken mussel shells - but we have seen slugs crawling over them. Stapled copper tape on the raised beds - and have seen slugs crawling over that too.

So the best solution has been to go out at dusk, and pick them up, and throw them over the wall to the green area behind the garden. Or else add them to some salted water. The weather nhas improved in tandem with this, but the number we have caught on any given night has reduced sharply since the first few nights, where we were finding more than 100 per night. And the plants seem to be doing better, though dwarf sunflowers seem to be particularly susceptible.

Next year we are resolved to go slug hunting from March on...

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July produce

Finally a few sunny days, and it's possible to dream of a cornucopia of fresh veg. For the moment, we are harvesting - though not in large enough quantities to consider giving any away -

Garlic - all lifted
Courgettes - a few small ones
Black currants
Tomatoes - one or two from the upside down planter
Lettuce - though the slugs got most of them

Listed like that it doesn't look too bad, and with DB's organic beef, we can easily have a truly local dinner.

Looking promising:
Runner beans
Borlitti beans
Ildi tomatoes


Wednesday, July 16, 2008


We know that Broad Beans (and other legumes) fix nitrogen in the soil, so they are good things to plant not just for food, but for green manure. When these bean finished producing, we pulled them up, and you can clearly see the nodules of nitrogen in the roots. So we scraped them off before putting the roots in the compost bin. Go beans!

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Edible front garden

Interesting art project.,8599,1816764,00.html


Fresh Herbal teas

Last week we were in Donegal in the most wonderful self-catering house - if you like gardening - more about that later. Anyhow we were visiting our cousins who live nearby, and drinking tea - as you do. I can't really handle caffeine at all, and no one had any herbal teas. So I went outside to see if I coudl find any mint in the garden.

Sadly, there was no mint, but then I remembered that chamomile grows well in yards, so I foind some of that in a fairly clean place. Rinsed it off, poured boiling water over it and voila - delicious chamomile tea! My cousins, who are all farmers in one way or another, would know chamomile as a weed that colonises areas where there's no grass. They think it's hilarious that people pay for dried bags of something which grows so prolifically. The other funny thing is we tried to grow chamomile in the school, but were not successful - too much care, I suppose.

In our wanderings, we found some Russian Chamomile on the roadside - that's a bit rarer, so I brought a root of that home to grow.

Still had the yen for mint tea, so when I got home I took care of that, and I have drinking fresh mint tea at work all week - tastes a lot better than dried.

Now I'm inspired to make some herbal teas in school next year - from herbs it will be easy to grow - and who knows, if we choose the right ones, they may have a calming effect on the students!

Here's a good link to the wild chamomile -

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Frogs out of pond!

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This evening I have been laying down cardboard in the pathways between the raised beds to suppress the grass. As I was pulling up some of the longer grass, I spotted one of the froglets hopping around. We put him back carefully in the pond, but now, attuned to the little jumers, we see that there are several more out in the garden, so I guess that they don't need to be put back. Much excitement for Dara and Leo, and the undergardener to see and hold them.

We saw a ladybird as well - would hope to see lots more of them. The mizuna has been ravaged by a nice looking caterpillar (or 6) - we have put all the caterpillars in a jar, and they will be going to Leo's creche tomorrow, so the kids can all get a good look at them. And if they don't survive the journey home, well that's too bad ;-)

It has stayed wet since the last post, so any squash plants that were not big and strong have been munched by the slugs (come on, frogs!), and some lettuce plants are gone too. However, it's looking better than this time last year. I may have given away all my spare squash plants a bit too soon - but maybe I'll get back some of the fruit.

Note for next year - lettuce a bit safer in vegetable chips, almost no point planting in the ground if the weather is wet. Also, the Brassicas - specifically broc. are overpowering their neighbours. Maybe I should only plant one per sq. ft.

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