Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Kennel Building For A Small Dogeen.

My son made this kennel for my brother's (also a Jack Russell)dog the other day.  I think he made a good job of it.  It's a pity he had to make it on my lawn.  Hopefully the bald patch will grow back or I will have another grass seed repair to do.  

I cut some of the planks for him with an handsaw.  I couldn't get over how much moisture nay sap there was in the wood.  Years ago newly sawn wood was seasoned for about a year or more.  Today its cut down and planed and made into planks and sent straight away to a timber yard.  Is it any wonder nothing lasts anymore?  

Its been raining today and all last night.  Here's an appropriate song by the aptly named Carpenters.  Yet another track from my very eclectic music juke box.  I would love to have seen them live.  I believe they played Manchester Free Trade Hall.  

Have you thought about Christmas yet?  I will give you some suggestions for presents in my next post!

Friday, 17 November 2017

An Old Farm Ratter Comes In For A Warm.

That's a picture of our Fido the Jack Russell terrier.  She's fifteen years old and still plodding on.  Here she is being a star in front of our Stanley Mourne number 7 solid fuel range.  

Talking of stars or even starless.  Two versions of King Crimsons Starless for you.  I saw The Unthanks a couple of years a go at Killarney Folk Festival.  If you ever get the chance to see them sing and clog dance, don't miss it.    They are brilliant!

The other version is of The David Cross Band.  I saw them play this in Germany in Loreley at The Night Of The Prog Festival.  David Cross was in King Crimson and David Jackson was in Vandergraf Generator.  A band which was formed at Manchester University.  The David Cross Band were brilliant.  I love this version of Starless.

Friday, 10 November 2017

A Folk Song About A Lark In The Morning.

I was looking on good old You Tube the other day for An Irish folk duo I saw in Killarney in July.  They supported the Hothouse Flowers.  The duo are called: The Vagabonds.  

I have an eclectic music taste and I have always liked folk music especially when its live.  They sang a wonderful old English folk song called 'The Lark In The Morning'.  Its been sung by the Dubliners, Steely Dan and many others.  

The song was was first printed in 1778,  Any way I found the Vagabonds singing this song in a cave the other day.  I think the cave must make wonderful natural acoustics.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Pictures From A Day Out In County Kerry.

We went over to Kerry the other day for some retail therapy and took these pictures.

This statue is brilliant.  It commemorates a Fisherman, Turf-Cutter, Rugby Player, Teacher and Writer.  I like how each of his occupation are featured on the plinth.  
A butchers van in Killarney and a litter bin.  You never see a litter bin in rural Ireland outside of the towns.  It looks like the cows are wondering if there is anything worth eating in the litter bin?

Puppets playing along to same Irish Trad music.  Notice the hole in the Leprechaun picture to put your head through.  I have never seen a real Leprechaun in Ireland, have you?  

The late author Pete McCarthy writes in his wonderfully funny book: McCarthy's Bar that he use to go looking for looking Leprechauns with butterfly nets on sticks at his grandmothers farm in Drimoleague, which is only a few miles up the road from where I live.  

I remember once asking my grandmother how do I catch a rabbit in the fields behind the farmhouse.  She told me to get some salt and sprinkle it on its tail.  A few hours later she wasn't very happy when there was no salt.  

Friday, 3 November 2017

Alice In Wonderland Gets A New Job.

One of my highlights of this year was flying from Kerry to Germany to spend a few days at the legendary Night Of The Prog festival at Loreley next to the river Rhine.  Its a beautiful place and I never really thought I would be going to a Rock festival when I was in my fifties.  

The big disappointment of the Summer was my favourite Rock band Kansas cancelling their European tour which included Poznan  (I had a ticket) in Poland and the Night Of The Prog.  So to make up for this my mate and myself decided to go on a once in a life time, strike it off the bucket list and get ourselves over to Germany and sup some mighty fine German beer and watch some great bands.  

One of the highlights (I will show you some more) of the festival was Franck Carducci's Band.  They are from France and play music to make you smile and wish you were around when all the psychedelic rock groups were strutting their experimental stuff way back in the early nineteen seventies.  

Any way the Franck Carducci Band have written and penned a song about Alice the girl who fell down that rabbit hole and met the Mad Hatter (not Mr Carducci, he wears a big hat) and she had an eerie dream.  

Many thanks for the people who film these concerts and put them on You Tube for everybody to enjoy.  I was there.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Making Plants And Planting Hedges For Not Very Much.

 One of our Hydrangea cuttings we made last month.  I decided to have a look if one of them had grown any roots.  Thanks to Mother Nature and hormone rooting powder, roots had appeared.
 The new shredder is making short work of the overgrown shrubs and I used them on this Hydrangea border.   I gave the border a couple of wheelbarrows of well rotted fym first before spreading the shredding.  Some people let the shreddings age first before applying it for a mulch.  

 I cleared the area of old grass and nettles this morning with my Azada hoe and piked them into a compost pile.  Then I planted it with some of our Gristelina cuttings/plants that we made last Winter.  They then had a good application of fym spread around them.  I also buried some old cardboard around them.  The shrubs behind the new hedge are mainly Formosa (Pheasant Berries) shrubs and they look a bit sparse at this time of year.  So I thought I would plant this hedge which cost nothing apart from our labour.

 Homemade compost area made from pallets.  The shreddings are piked there along side fym and anything else that will compost.  If we feed the soil we will have have healthy plants and it needn't cost much money money at all..

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Digging For Victory With Pictures And Sound.

A friend of mine recently emailed me to tell me of a new British band called: Public Service Broadcasting.  They are touring Europe this Autumn and Winter.  They have an original way of combining their music with old  black and white film footage.  Four  videos of theirs that I really like are: Digging For Victory, If War Should Come, They Gave Me A Lamp and Spitfire.  Here's Digging For Victory.   They remind me of a modern day Pink Floyd using the medium of film and music.  Have you heard of them?  What do you think?  I think they are playing Dublin in January:  "Hmm...?"

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Gaelic Coffee To Help You Relax.

Do you like Gaelic or Irish coffees?  I actually prefer Scottish whisky to Irish whiskey (notice the different spellings).  So we made Gaelic or Scottish coffees the other day.

Gaelic coffees in Irish coffee glasses.  


Brew some strong ground black coffee (we buy ours from Aldi) and place a teaspoon of brown sugar in a handle glass (so you don't burn your fingers), add a measure of whisky to the glass.  We used Teachers because we had it in.  Add the coffee to the glass and stir.  Then add some whipped cream.  We used a aerosol of spray cream.  Enjoy.  There are supposed to be thirteen gales hitting Ireland over the coming weeks.  

Oh yeah. 

Did you watch the BBC 4: A Year In A English Garden last night?  It's on BBC Player if you missed it.  Not that we can get it in Ireland.  I loved the walled kitchen garden and there is always something to do. Even when its raining, just for a change.  I have a North facing (Northsider) garden and understand the joys and failures of gardening next to the sea and sometimes you get all the seasons in a day.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Watching Some Blues And Cow Punk In Killarney.

We went to Killarney INEC last Saturday to watch two bands:  Crow Black Chicken and The Super Suckers.  Crow Black Chicken are a Blues band from Ireland and The Super Suckers are a Cow Punk (I had never heard of this music genre either) band from the United States.  Crow Black Chicken are the band in the top picture and The Super Suckers are the band in the pictures below

I never get to see much live music these days living in the countryside and the last time I saw some rock music was when I went to the Night Of The Prog Festival in Loreley in Germany in July of this year.  

Crow Black Chicken are playing England in November.  They are well worth checking out.  One song I really liked that they played was entitled:  Jones Town.  Its about the danger of Religious cults and Jimmy Jones in particuliar in America.  Do you remember it?

The Super Suckers play some really fast heavy music (cow punk) and the lead singer was very entertaining when he talked between the songs.  He said that he liked Ireland and could speak the language:  "Muchas gratias.  They were fun and its a shame a lot more people didn't go to see these bands.  They even did a cover of Thin Lizzy's 'Cowboy Song'

Friday, 20 October 2017

Another Day Out To More Places In Ireland.

I noticed this place when we went to Limerick to visit St John's Castle.  So last Saturday we decided to check out Askeaton.  It's a small town in county Limerick.  Here's some shots for you.
An old Saddlers' shop.  On a further inspection by  looking in the shop window, it was empty, sadly! 
 An impressive looking forged gate to and impressive Georgian style house.  Probably a mill owners house me thinks?

 A weir next to the ruined Friary.

Mass  Dial.
The grave yard overlooking the Friary.

 Old  derelict Corn store at Abbey Mills.  It never ceases to amaze me the amount of derelict buildings there are in Ireland.  Surely ("don't call me Shirley" Airplane  film joke) the building could me made into apartments?
 This looks like the monks and nuns productive kitchen garden.  No doubt they would have grown food, made beer and Mead and grew medicinal herbs and flowers to cure the sick.  It was a Franciscan Friary so they would have been very kind and offered rest and comfort for the weary traveler and sanctuary to heal the body and the soul.  Even today the Franciscans have soup kitchens in big cities like Dublin.  I believe the ruin is part of an old church.
 They were obviously incredibly skilled stonemasons in the 13th century.  


Swans on the river Deel overlooking Desmond castle.  

Its free to visit the Friary and good way to explore the many fascinating old places in Ireland.   It reminded me of our visit many moons a go to Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire.  

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

After The Hurricane.

Two brushes resting in town after sweeping some leaves.  Notice the ingenious home made handle.

I went to inspect my poly-tunnel and noticed our winter Japanese onion had shoots pushing through the earth.  My tunnel survived Storm Darwin and now Ophelia.  I think its storm Brian next to look forward too at the weekend.

Monday night in our front room.  No electricity, candles, cider punch and a pizza cooking on the stove.  It reminded me of one of my mother's sayings she use to say:  " It's like Christmas Day in the Workhouse."

How did the people long a go.  Cope without electricity to pump water in the well, watch the television, light the house, cook your tea, work the broadband...?

Here's an appropriate theme by the great Neil Young.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Flipping Heck. Here Comes Storm Ophelia.

One thing I never get use to living in the countryside next to the sea, is the gales.  Especially when they come at night and you curl in a ball praying to God that everything will be OK.  Hurrican Ophelia is said to be hitting Ireland and dear old Blighty tomorrow.  Its supposed to have been graded to category three.   The school bus is not running and we always think of people sleeping rough or travelling on planes, trains, over land and sea.  

We will probably have no ESB (electricity) because nobody ever gets around to burying the electricity cables underground.  Fences posts will need replacing and old corrugated roofs and old sheds will need replacing.  Trees will block roads and tides will flood towns.  Sheep and donkeys and cattle will find shelter behind an hedge or in a dip and sit on the grass to keep it dry for their dinner tomorrow.  

All you can do is batten down the hatches and reach for a bottle from the top shelf and try to read and pray and hope no animals or humans are killed.  At least we know these days when a storm is coming.  If I don't answer any comments or put any on your blog its because we have no electricity due to the storm and not because somebody is too tight to put ten bob in the leccy meter.   I will go and get the candles ready and check the torch is working. Keep safe and don't go outside.  Try and read a book. Speak soon.

Here's a good poem that's very appropiate for the wind.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Gardening Inspiration On A Day Out In The City.

We went back to Cork yesterday for another hospital appointment for my brother.  We dropped him off for his treatment and spent a few hours wandering round the streets of Cork city.

It was the usual looking at the architecture, people watching and shopping.  I saw my first Christmas pudding yesterday and this curious sign.
What are Winter Wishes?

 Then we chanced to walk past an old derelict site that's been transformed and made into a garden.

 A beacon of light and hope for all who have mental health issues.    The community garden has been made on derelict land.  I noticed  the land is sold.  I hope they find a new site for another community garden in the city.  Mental Health Awareness is represented by a green ribbon.  In the 19th century green was used to label people who were considered "insane".  It was also the symbol of the Levellers in the English Civil war.

 Nasturtiums growing happily and a bench made from old pallets.  
Exotic looking plants and the green ribbon symbol.   

If there was such a garden down in West Cork.  I would gladly volunteer and do some gardening for them and give them some of my plants.  Do you know of any other gardening projects worth supporting?  I know the RHS always want garden volunteers and they rent allotments.  

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Strawberries For Sale In October And An Electric Shredder For The Smallholding.

We went To Cork on Monday with my brother for an hospital appointment and we killed two birds with one stone and did some shopping as well.

I was amazed to see strawberries for sale in October!  I bet they are from somewhere foreign like Dunmanway.  That's my attempt at humour.  Dunmanway is a West Cork town.  
 We drove to Mahon Point  shopping centre and we had a look round B & Q.  I have been doing quite a bit of shrub pruning over the last few days.  We get ten months growth here next to the Gulf Stream.  Plus it rains a lot too.  Not forgetting the copious amounts of farm yard manure that gets placed around our plants.  So I saw this  elctric 2500W impact shredder (that's what it says on the box)  for the kings ransom of 77 Euros.  Which converts back to 68 Pounds Sterling.  Or a night on the lash for one self.
A wheelbarrow full of shrub shreddings waiting to be added to my compost heap.  I found it very good when I worked the shredder for 4 hours yesterday.  It shreds up to 44 mm no trouble.  Which is about one and a half inches.  Anything bigger jams the shredder.  So I cut the thicker lengths and use them for pea sticks and for markers for my potato rows before I earth them up in early summer.  

I think the shredder is a bargain and I reckon that its half paid for already.  Especially if we had taken the branches to a recycling centre and paid to get rid of them.  You can't use them when its raining or your prunings are wet.

Do you have a garden shredder?  Please tell us about it.  How long should I leave the shreddings in my compost heap before I can mulch with them?  

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

A Poly-tunnel Raised Bed Made For Absolutely Nothing.

I made a raised bed for my polytunnel on Sunday.  It cost me the grand sum of nothing.  Yes folks, nowt!

Seeing that its you.  I will tell you how I did maketh this wonderful construction.  Get one door frame from a skip or if you're Blue Peter: "Here's one I made earlier."  I got ours from the farmhouse renovations we had done this summer.  

Then I did carry it to the poly-tunnel and lay it prostrate on the ground.  Then I filled it with fym (cow poo) with my trusty wheel barrow and four prong pike.  The great thing about it being open at one end.  I could drive (push) my wheelbarrow into the raised bed area.  Then I looked around the smallholding and found two lonesome standard concrete building blocks.  So I carried them one at a time and lay them at the opening.  The gap in the middle will be good for drainage and we can place weeding buckets etc...  

I am very pleased with my efforts and once again it goes to show you don't need to spend much (or even any) money to grow things...  Perhaps I should get my raised bed patented?  Maybe I will be awarded an OBE or a CDM (Cadbury's Dairy Milk) for my services to horticulture?  Seriously. Do you have any cheap ways to grow your vegetables?  See you soon.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Planting Broad Beans With A Dylan Thomas Poem In My Head

That's me planting my broad bean plants the other day.  Its amazing to see what a rootball they have when you plant the bean in compost.  

The Dylan Thomas poem: "The Force That Through The Green Fuse Drives The Flower"' started to play in my head.  I think if you studied your plants in your garden you would never stop being amazed of the force of nature.  How does a little seed or bean know how to germinate and produce roots and shoots and food for us all?

I watched Gardener's World last night and they show the predacious fungi and soil eating creatures in garden soil under a microscope.  Its incredible what creatures live in our soil.  I have been spreading fym this morning and thinking that you should feed the soil and feed the plants.  Do your plants never cease to amaze you.  

Here's the Dylan Thomas poem.  

Monday, 2 October 2017

On Line Shopping For The Veg Plot And Farmhouse Garden..

Its been horrible wet and raining and the veg plot is saturated.  You wouldn't put a milk bottle out in this weather.   

We have been doing some online shopping for the veg plot.  They arrived today via a courier man in a white van.  Do you buy things for your garden online?  He brought me:  Winter Vetch (Tares), Japanese onions (winter onions that you plant now) and Tulips (often felt like one) for the new borders at the back of the farmhouse.

What we ordered and a complimentary bag of sweets!

The Tares are a green manure and I am going to broadcast them on the area where next years potatoes are going to grow.  I have grown Mustard before.  Anybody else grow green manures?  Do No Dig gardeners use them?  You grow them to suppress weeds and then chop them them down with garden shears or my organic nettle fuelled( petrol)strimmer and dig them in.  I think Tares are a Legume?  So they extract Nitrogen from the air and release them through their root nodules into the soil.  They feed soil for free.  

I have grown Japs (Senshuy Onions) every autumn for over the last twenty years or so.  They grow through the snow, rain and even sunshine.  They aren't good storers?  Is there such a word?  But they fill up the plot and are ready before the summer onions.  

Never grown Elephant Garlic before.  Think its related to the Leek.  Yes I know they are all members of the Allium family.  But this is said to be a cross between the Leek and Garlic.  I believe you only need to buy a few cloves once.  

Do you grow them in ridges?  Our land is saturated at the moment.  You can never have enough paving slab paths can you?  The slugs like to live under them too?  They also love plastic?  Do you use slug pellets?  I think they are only man made chemical we have ever used on our veg plot.  Sometimes I have been very bored and gone outside with a torch looking for the naughty creatures.  You should hear what Anglo Saxon Expletives I call the Cabbage whites.  Must invest in a net  for my Brassica's next year Dave?  

What are you planting in your veg plot at the moment?  

Friday, 29 September 2017

Turning Compost. "Put It On Your CV."

The veg plots and flower garden are not very happy bunnies at the moment.  We have had far too much rain this week and farmers are starting to house their livestock, already.  

I have been turning my compost heap this morning with my trusty four prong pike.  It didn't take long and there are some lovely juicy worms living in the friable compost underneath the decaying vegetation.  

I came inside and my eldest son asked me what I had been doing on the veg plot.  I said:

"Turning my home made compost with my long handled pike.  

He shook his head and said:

"Put compost turning on your CV."  

Then he asked me why didn't I turn it with the mini digger?

I don't think he will be a slave of the soil, I mean gardener, will he?

Sunday, 24 September 2017

More Car Boot Sale Smallholding Treasure.

We went car-booting this morning in the rain.  The missus found me a John Seymour paperbook version of his Self Sufficiency bible.  I have two versions already.  I think I paid twenty eight Euros for the hardback version.  Its been worth every penny though.   I think John Seymour inspired me more than any other author.  I rented my first allotment after reading his book, many moons a go.  Which author inspired you more than anybody else to do do something?

 The missus bought herself a large Mrs Beeton's Cookery In Colour.  Both books cost a Euro each.  The next time I talk to somebody about the great JS I will let them read the paperback version instead of my hardback version.  We have a small paperback copy of Mrs Beeton's Cookery Book but there are no pictures and its a very poor font.  Hopefully we will get inspired for some great meals?  We went in Lidl in Clonakilty the other day and I showed her some baking tins.  She said to me:

"Are you hinting at something?"  

I also purchased this rubber garden trug for three Euros at the car boot sale.  Its got a broken handle but number one son said he will fix it with a pot rivet for me.   I usually use old paint buckets or large coleslaw buckets for weeding.  What do you use?  That path needs weeding, yet again!  I won't use weedkiller.

Have you found any  carboot smallholding bargains recently?  I think they are great for finding cheap books and tools.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Making Cuttings And Dividing Perennials In My Polytunnel.

For the last couple of weeks I have been making plant cuttings and dividing herbaceous ("pretty flowers") perennials in my polytunnel.   Even on wet days, you can garden if you have a polytunnel.  Do you make cuttings from your plants and shrubs?  September is a good time to make new plants.  Its very easy and very inexpensive.    

I don't buy expensive potting composts.  This last batch of plants were potted up with my own mixture of a bucket of grit sand I had left over from my recent paving project and a grow bag (one Euro) from my German garden centres (Lidl or Aldi).  You just mix the sand and grow bag together and you have your very own potting compost.  The grow bags are bit peaty and the sand makes good drainage.   There aren't many nutrients in the potting compost but it will do until you pot on your rooted new plants next spring.

One more very important thing you will need (not always) is a tub of hormone rooting powder.  Just get out your secateurs and cut yourself some cuttings.  I strip off most of their leaves and dip them in the rooting powder and place them in the pots filled with your homemade potting compost.  Then they go outside and get watered every morning.  But they won't be being watered today, its raining!  Just for a change.  

Perennials are even easy to make.  Just pull a plant in to pieces with the roots still attached and pot them on in the same way.  Do you make cuttings?  What's your potting compost recipe? 

 A myriad of cuttings: Hydrangea, Rugosa rose (great seaside hedge), Gristelina, Cornus (dogwood), Hebe, Hypericum (you will never get witches, if you plant one of them), Osteospernum....  I plant some cuttings in old baths and leave them to overwinter.  You can see the pallet side of my compost heap in the background.  
More cuttings and my cheap hose pipe that is always kinking on me.  The path is made of old concrete pig slats.  I should have put plastic bags or membrane under them to stop the weeds, but I never did and I hand weed it  every year.  I am off to water my polytunnel.