Monday, January 25, 2010

Planting Broad beans


It's a bit later than last year, but inspired by the sunshine, and the fact that I start teaching soon, and with the help of my trusty undergardeners, who are on a half day from school, we have the broad beans planted. We have ignored the planting dates on the pachets, and planted Aquadulce Claudia, and the Sutton - both varieties did well from a Jan 1st sowing last year.

I soaked the broad bean seeds overnight - this will accelerate the germination. And it's so promising to see them plump up. And tried to organise my seeds (see my tiny plot for a good method), and found lots of other broad bean varieties. So I think I'll be planting a lot more of these over the coming weeks. They are a great early cropper, and you can eat the tips, the tiny seed pods before they fill out, and the seeds - so the more the better. And popping them open to see them nestled in their downy pods in a great job for all the family.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gardening courses - start date moved out

I'm moving out the start dates of both the 'Grow your own food' courses.

The Saturday class will now begin on January 30th, and the Tuesday evening class will now begin on February 2nd. This means that the later classes will be in the early growing season, so we can do lots of practical stuff with seeds and seedlings.

Also, a reminder that the Mullingar GIY meeting takes place in Belvedere this evening (Jan 21st) at 8:00pm, and will be every month on the third Thursday

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Marmalade oranges

If you love marmalade, and would like to try making some yourself, now's the time! Marmalade oranges are in the shops right now - we got a case of them last weekend, and all kinds of marmalade is being made. Below is a recipe - you can leave out the cranberries if you can't find any. See photos here.

My gardening courses are filling nicely - if you're interested act now and contact me at 087 2222562.

Cranberry and Orange Marmalade
This one is a perfect January preserve – Seveille oranges are only available then, and you’ll be sure to have some cranberries in the shops round Christmas. Both oranges and cranberries can be frozen, and used when you want to make this.

3lb bitter (Seville) Oranges
5 pints water
1lb cranberries
7lbs sugar
2 large Lemons

Squeeze lemons and reserve juice. Scrub oranges, and remove disks form the stalk end. Put the whole oranges, and lemon peels into a large heavy pan, and cover with 4 pints of the water. A narrow rather than a wide pan might be better – it’s important that all the oranges are covered.
Cover, bring to a boil and simmer for about 1.5 hours, until the peel is quite soft. Lift out oranges and lemons, reserving the liquid. Halve oranges, and scoop out the flesh and pips into a small saucepan. Add the remaining pint of water, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 mins, to extract pectin. Put a few saucers in your freezer.
Cut up the softened peel as coarsely or finely as you like. Put the peel in a pan containing the reserved liquid, add sugar, cranberries, lemon juice, and strain the juice from the flesh and pips into this also.

Start off on a low heat, stirring while sugar dissolved. Bring to a fast boil for 10-15 minutes. Test for doneness: remove one of the saucers from the freezer, and put a little marmalade on it. Put it back in the freezer for 2-3 mins. When you check it, push the skin which has formed on top – if it wrinkles, you have successfully gelled. If not, keep boiling.

After gelling, remove form the heat, and allow to cool for 10-15 mins. This means that the fruit will be distributed well through the marmalade.

Pot in hot sterilised jam jars, put on lids, leave to cool, and label and date.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Grow your own food - 2010 Gardening Courses


Spring is coming! Hard to believe, but the nights are getting shorter, a thaw will eventually arrive, the ground will be muddy, and the weeds will sprout at the first bit of warmth.

With that, I'm happy to announce that I'll be teaching a Beginners Organic Gardening class. I had hoped to start this weekend, but with the bad weather I have moved the start dates out.

There will be an evening class in Mullingar Educate Together NS(on the C-link road, beside the new Spar) - Tuesday evenings 8-10pm. Starting on January 26th.
There's a Saturday morning class in Belvedere - 11:00am - 1:00pm. Starting January 23rd.

Get back to basics with this 6-session course, to prepare for a
bountiful harvest. Whether you have a garden or a window-box, there’s something here for you, even if you don’t know a trowel from a dibber. And if last year is anything to go by, you'll go home from the later classes laden down with seedlings, as well as enthusiasm and information.

Cost is €120.

You will learn about -

Organic methods and permaculture,
Soil preparation - no dig methods,
Garden planning,
Growing plants from seed,
Preparing a place to grow vegetables,
Soil fertility,
Choosing plants,
Keeping a gardening diary,
Growing fruit,
Plant propagation,
And much more!

If you’re interested, please contact Anna at 087 2222562 or

Please book your place early – numbers are limited!

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Yummy Cabbage


It wasn't a huge cabbage, but it was very arttractive. And it tasted great, even after 3 weeks of severe frost!
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Our local butcher was selling off his Christmas hams at half price, so we bought one. And what better to go with ham than cabbage? However, I didn't foresee this when last shopping for veg, so no cabbage in the house - or was there? I remembered a little cabbage growing outside, so I went out, and wonders - it had survived the Big Freeze... Harvested it, washed it, and cooked it in the ham stock - it was delicious! Seems like cabbages can handle a little freezing.

Don't know about the leeks - was relying on them for a winter staple, but the ground has been too hard to harvest for some time. Wonder what they'll be like when the thaw comes?

One a warmer note, I'm organising a felting workshop at the end of January see my crafting blog for details.

And I will be running beginners gardening courses soon - details to follow.

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Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all - I have been away from this blog a good bit lately - making crafty things and baking - some results on my other blog.

However, now that the nights are getting shorter, and the days are lengthening somewhat, it's time once again to turn back to the garden. Maybe I'll just be sorting my seeds, and starting some broad beans inside, and harvesting a few leeks, but summers a coming - and we have been waiting since 2006.

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