Monday, 17 June 2019

New Potatoes.

Here are our new potatoes freshly dug and washed from the veg plot.  I spread homemade compost in the spring and planted them in the ground.  The only home made fertilizer they have had is my nettle garden tea.  In other years I have give the plots lots of cow manure.  

This summer is very mixed weather wise and the gardens and veg plot have loved the showers and sunshine.  It's also been good not having to water it all the time.  

We bought some Organic carrots from Lidl for 99 Cents.  They cost the same as the ordinary carrots.  Eh?  Yep that's right.  You can but Organic carrots that haven't been grown with granulated fertilizer or sprayed with chemicals either.  Do you see why I don't bother growing all my vegetables anymore?  Of course they aren't as fresh as homegrown ones.  But when they are cheap as chips?

I have been maintaining a garden for an elderly lady since this Spring.  It's a mature herbaceous perennial (my favourite!) type of garden with lawns, mature shrubs and perennials in the borders.  It's very labour intensive and the soil in the borders are wonderful.  You could dig to Australia.  I have told you a million times Dave, don't exaggerate!

They are so full of wonderful homemade compost. Years and years of adding homemade compost, leaf mould and emptying the bought compost out of the flower pots have made it wonderful to work.  There is a Robin that perches on my garden fork and he or she looks at me weeding like an old head gardener and I am sure it will say:

"Put your back into it.  Have you got any worms?"

There is even a big compost heap.  Full to the brim with home made compost.  Just like my veg plot has!  The potatoes are delicious this year.  Especially washed down with a glass of Portal Do Minho.  It's a white wine from Portugal.  They sell it in Lidl.  We love it!

Thursday, 13 June 2019

A Mixed Day At The Car boot Sale.

I got up at 5.15 on Sunday morning and filled the car with small perennials in trays.  It only took me an HOUR!

We had a cup of brew (black coffee) before we set off to the car boot sale near Cork city.  It's only about fifty miles away.  We paid ten Euros for our pitch and duly proceeded to empty the car of plants.   I decided to only charge a Euro a piece for them!  A helpful car booter seller came over and said we should try to sell plants that are in flower.  Most of ours did not have  any flowers.  Slap on wrist.  Sit on naughty seat!

Any way to cut a long story or standing time.  We sold eighteen plants.  Minus the pitch fee of ten Euros = 8 Euros.  Not bad for a mornings work eh?  

On a positive note I met some great people and passed on some good tips like how to make a Sedum cutting.  I even demonstrated!  I am available for after dinner speeches, garden fetes and gardening programmes.  Oh I forgot to say.  I am very CHEAP!

When the biblical multitudes of car booters gave us a minute.  I walked round on a car boot treasure trail.  This is what I found:

The vase or vahz cost four Euros.  It's hand painted, fine Staffordshire China and made just after the Second World War.  It made my day!  Do you like it?  What's the least you ever made on a car boot sale and what's the most?  

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Anglophile Calling.

One of the many things I love and miss from England came home last week.  Good old Newcastle Brown.  I love English bitter, especially from the Midlands upwards.  You can go in a supermarket and find Belgian, Irish, Indian, Czech, French, Portuguese, Polish beer.  But can you find English beer?  Can you flip!  

Did you know that Guinness was first brewed in London?  I jest not. So really its originally an English stout?  

Bill Wyman missed Piccalilli when he lived in France.  Which is actually an Indian delicacy brought home when the Empire was still in full swing.  Even that Vindaloo song which England football fans sing is really an Indian dish from Goa which was a Portuguese colony.  Not many people know that.

Any way thanks to one of my relations wife going to England I ended up with eight cans of Newcy Brown.  They were delicious and please can she bring me some back every week?

Next question.  Any ex pats who read this.  Please tell me what you really miss from Blighty?  If you still live there.  What would you miss?

We have Iceland stores now in Ireland.  So we stock up on Hollands and Pukka pies, Cheddar cheese and good old Vimto and Hovis.  

I miss cricket too and watching a live football match and allotments of course!  What do you miss or would you miss?

Monday, 10 June 2019

New Garden Plants All The Way From China.

We sent off for some plant seeds a couple of months ago.  I think I mentioned it on here.  You only had to pay for the postage.  We ordered Bamboo, Pampas grass and Maple.  We ordered them through Geek.  Two Euros postage for each sachet of seeds.

About a month later a package arrived.  This is sounding like I am a drug dealer.  We sowed them in some trays and we have had mixed results:  The Pampas grasses all germinated.  

There are TWENTY SEVEN Blue Pampas Grass happily living outside in pots.  I even divided up the plants!  .  I like them and they seem to tolerate living next to the sea too.  Can't wait to see their Blue plumage!
Lots and lots of Pampas grass.
The Bamboo and Maple are a bit slow germinating.  I have even resorted to putting them in the wife's 'magic' window.  It's a NORTH facing kitchen window and everything sitting on the window sill germinates.  I have read that Bamboo need frost to make them germinate.  Even putting them in the fridge for a few weeks.  Anybody else had any experience of growing Bamboo from seed?  

I have seen Bamboo plants for sale for 22 Euros.  What's 22 x 5=?  A lot of pennies.  So the return is good even if the germination is a bit erratic.

We have about five Bamboo plants emerging at the moment and the Maple is starting to germinate.  Anybody else bought some 'free' plant seeds from China?  Or overseas?

Saturday, 8 June 2019

A Very Good Gardening Book From The Charity Shop.

Here is the book I mentioned the other day.    It only cost one Euro and I am loving it nay devouring the compendium of female garden writing.  

Here's two or three snippets to whet your appetite:

May I assure the gentleman who writes to me (quite often) from a Priory in Sussex that I am not the armchair, library-fireside gardener he evidently suspects, 'never having performed any act of gardening' myself, and that for the last forty years of my life I have broken my back, my finger- nails, and sometimes my heart, in the practical pursuit of my occupation?
                                                            Vita Sackville-West , 1958.

Has anybody visited Sissinghurst?  Is it worth visiting?  I going to Kent soon.  

Gertrude Jekyll (Robert Louis Stephenson was friendly with her family and used their surname) great plantswoman and garden designer wrote:

For planting ground is painting a landscape with living things and I hold that good gardening takes rank within the bounds of the fine arts, so I hold that to plant well needs an artist of no mean capacity.  (Wood and Garden).

I have often said on here that I view gardens and allotments to be works of art.  The gardener and Mother Nature paint the picture and the soil is the easel.

Deborah Kellaway the Editor of The Virago Book Of Women Gardeners asks the question:

And what about the really poor?   They had no gardens, but they  had always gardened.  In the early middle ages they were there with their baskets, working in other people's flower-beds for a few pence a year.  In the seventeenth century Celia Fiennes marvelled at an effigy of one of them in the gardens of Woburn Abbey.  They were still there in the nineteenth century, and Mrs Ewing describes a certain woman in a hood, remembered from her childhood: 'She is not very old but she looks so, because she has lost her teeth, and is bent near double'.  She was bent double because she spent her working life stooped over the soil.  She was, simply, a 'weeder woman'.

What a great find of a book.  It mentions Weeders and Diggers, Advisers and Designers, Plantswomen, Colourists, Countrywomen, Townswomen, Visitors and Travellers, Kitchen Gardeners (walled gardens are my favourite!), Flower Arrangers and Visionaries.  It's a great book!

What's your favourite Estate garden to visit?  In England for me it would be Cholmondley Castle in Cheshire and The Lost Gardens Of Heligan in Cornwall.  I love the walled kitchen garden.  Did I tell you I love walled kitchen gardens?

Thursday, 6 June 2019

A Postcard From The Potato Plot And Ice Plants.

I thought I would show you the latest photo from the veg plot.  The new potatoes are beginning to flower.  More perennial cuttings are potted up in the bath.  The bay in the background and Beara peninsula.

It takes me back about fifty years ago when everybody grew a field of vegetables for the humans and cow cabbages for the cows and mangels for the cart horse.  Piking hay by hand, chasing rabbits with salt and my dad and his brother drinking cold tea in a bottle brought to the field in an old sock.  

Ice plants that the wife grew from seed.  She got the seed free from Lidl a few months a go.  They made me think of the Algarve in April a few years ago.  We walked along the cliff tops to Carveiro and the Ice plants where growing wild there.  

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Some Fab Things From A Charity Shop.

A rose glass or for a single flower?  Its old and heavy (sounds like me) and was only a Euro.
This coffee cup and ashtray immediately caught my attention.  I just had to have it!  Anybody know anything about it?
Seven Sundae glasses.  Fifty Cents each or ten bob in old slot electricity meters!   They took me back fifty years when my dear old mum would take me for an ice-cream with wafers in a Sundae glass in the the tea rooms.  We're going to use them for vases.  Some folk would call it tat I call it treasure!  

Oh I got some books too.  One on Portugal and one about Lady Gardeners.  All for a Euro a piece!   Will post a blog about the book when I have read it.  One lady gardener employed eighty gardeners.  Doff cap, pull forelock: 

"Yes my lady!"

Talking of lady gardeners.  Watch Carol Klein tonight on Channel 5 at nine O'clock.  She's one of my favourite television gardeners.  Who or was your favourite television gardener?  Geoffrey Smith was mine and Geoff Hamilton too.  Monty is good too and I adore his gardening dogs Nelly and Nigel.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

From A Limestone Quarry To A Landfillsite To A Garden Of Europe.

We visited Listowel in Kerry on Saturday.  Its a bustling place where there is always something going on.  Be it a literature festival, the races or browsing the shops.  You can even go in the great writer, John B Keane's pub.  We decided to visit the Gardens of Europe.

This is in a corner of the town park next to the river Feale.  It was once a limestone quarry and then the town's landfill site and then it was landscaped and planted and became: The Garden Of Europe.  

We parked the car next to the river and followed the well positioned sign posts to the Garden Of Europe:

Information about the Garden of Europe.

The only Irish monument to the Holocaust.  The wood represents the railways and the chains for oppression.  There are Oak trees growing here.  They sprouted from Acorns found at Auschwitz.  

Great Britains  garden also with Oak trees.
Germany's.  The bust is of the poet Schiller who composed "Ode To Joy".  Beethoven put the words to music.
John B Keane sculpture and Ireland's garden.

There are 12 gardens representing the 12 EU countries.  I only wrote about recycling the other day and I think this is a great way of using old landfill sites and making parks and  planting 3000 trees for us and the future generations to enjoy.  Lets have more green spaces please?

Friday, 31 May 2019

Even More Carboot Treasure And A Better Tomorrow.

Two posts in one today folks.

Firstly here's two items the wife purchased at the car boot sale the other day:

A Lalique type of platter = 3 Euros.

Three ornamental cows= 3 Euros.  The Koala Bears =10 E

Underneath the Koala Bears.  They are stamped Goldscheider Staffordshire.  Apparently  the factory originated in Vienna, have you heard of them Gwil?

We looked it up on Ebay and we saw a similar one for 56 Euros.  Not that we want to sell it.  I thinks its 1950s pottery.

Finally Lidl (our German supermarket and garden centre!) have launched their: "A Better Tomorrow" campaign.  Every store will have recycling bins inside their stores.  It reminds me of the Algarve where such bins are everywhere.  Even the beaches have litter bins.  Please can the local authorities follow suit and provide bins for recycled plastic?

What do you recycle Dave?  Plastic plant pots. Hundreds of them are saved from the landfill and my perennials are potted  up in them.  People even collect pots for me.  Do you have recycling bins at your supermarkets?

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

More Car Boot Sale Treasure With A Vegetable Theme.

I purchased these two plates/serving dishes at the car boot sale on Sunday.  One is very large and the other is just average,  I bought them because I like them and they have vegetable designs.

The Aubergine.

The Globe Artichoke or maybe a Cardoon?

Don't know where they will live and they only cost 8 Euros for the pair.  Can you walk past a stall or table if there is something you like and its cheap?  Don't think it will be long when they feature me in one of those hoarding television programmes.  At least I don't collect newspapers in carrier bags!  Not yet anyway.  

More car boot treasure soon!

Monday, 27 May 2019

My Dream Garden Restaurant?

We went to a carboot sale yesterday in the beautiful seaside village of Crosshaven near Cork city.  It looked very up market and we noticed this house and its for sale:

I will show you some of the things we bought later in the week.

The house is called Point House.  Its over three hundred years old.  The Puxley family built it.  There family home is  a ruined manor house across from us at Dunboy on Beara.  The IRA burned it down in the 1930's.  I believe work began several years ago to convert it into a luxury hotel.

It was the home of the Puxley family,  They mined copper.  I bought some copper yesterday too!  Remember 'Hungry Hill'?  Well that was based on the Puxley family. 

Point House has a big green grassy area at the front of the area.  It would be perfect for growing veg and perennials.  I could grow the veg and perennials and a celebrity chef could run the restaurant.  We could also sell Real Ales, Organic wines and its got room for accommodation too.  Perhaps even Rock concerts in a marquee?

All I need is 500000 Euros or 440000 Pounds?  Then it needs renovating.  Oh well we can dream!

There's a link at the bottom of the page.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Planting And Watering In The Leeks.

We planted the leeks we grew from seed the other day.  First I got my dibber (old cut down shovel handle) and made holes.  Then I placed or dropped the leeks into their new home or holes.  Then I got my watering can and watered the soil over the roots and filled the holes with water,   
Watering in my leeks.  The plant pots are even taking over this part of the veg plot.  Anybody want some cheap perennials?

Leeks originate from far off places like Egypt and the Mediterranean.  The Romans are said to have brought them to Britain.  There aren't many vegetables that don't come from far away.  So we eat a Continental diet without knowing it.  

I watched Monty talking to a twelve times Chelsea gold prize winning veg grower from Anglesey last night.  They use builders plastic membrane to blanch the sock of their leeks.  I just plant them like the above and the soil blanches their sock for me.  I believe you can even get a self blanching leek?  

We lifted some more spuds this week.  You can't beat the freshness of homegrown food picked the same day. Yes it may be Organic.  But is it fresh or was it flown in from Israel?.  Why do they even wrap Organic vegetables in plastic?  Perhaps I should grow a lot more vegetables again?  I just love growing perennials.  

Could you imagine if you could go to a restaurant and they ask you what vegetables you would like to eat?  Then they take you outside to the restaurant veg plot and you say:
"I want those leeks".

Then they dig them up and cook them while you have a glass of wine or a pint of real ale?  Anybody know if such a restaurant exists?

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Rooted Plant Cuttings On The Garden Table.

I have an hobby nay obsession to propagate garden plants by division and by taking cuttings.  To misquote Blue Peter:

"Here's some we (Mother nature and me) made earlier."

I went through my cuttings the other day which are hiding from the glaring sun under an hedge.  They had to go under the hedge because my cold frames are full and the polytunnel thinks its Portugal or  Spain:"Scorchio"

I found sixteen cuttings had took.  These are Fuchsia and Soapwort.  The Fuchsia is a lovely whitey salmon pink flower and not the one you see in West Cork hedgerows or in Cornwall.  Soapwort was used years ago for washing.  You can even make your own shampoo with it!

They are dead easy to take.  Just get your scissors and cut them off the parent plant or bush.  I can dip them in hormone rooting powder or in my home made rooting liquid (see Salicyclic acid willow blog post) or not even bother with any.  I didn't use any and just placed them in compost in trays and pots and kept them regular watered.

A few weeks later and they are potted up and ready to enjoy the sunshine and rain.  Gardening doesn't need to cost a lot of money if you make your own plants.  If you lived near me we could swap perennials and cuttings?

Anybody else had any success with cuttings lately?  Go on give it a go.  You will be amazed!

Monday, 20 May 2019

From A Jam Pan To A Flower Arrangement.

On the way to Glin last Sunday we stopped at a carboot sale.  I spotted this rather tarnished brass jam pan.  I asked the seller how much?  They said: "Ten Euros!"  My hand went in my wallet like a ferret down a rabbit hole.  

I walked in from the garden the other day and the missus said:

  "I have summat to show you!"

She had only gone and polished the brass jam and placed some plastic flowers in it!  All praise to your elbow grease and using ones initiative. 

It now sits proudly in between the range and television and my old kettles.  

Apparently brass jam pans are better than other metal pans for cooking jam.  They don't blacken the fruit and don't leave a metallic taste.  Don't think we'll be using it for cooking though!  

Another picture from Glin Castle.  My feet and the tomatoes and chives in the glasshouse.  I suppose the chive flowers attract the bees?  Hope you're enjoying the month of May?  It's my favourite month of the year.

Friday, 17 May 2019

The First Spuds Of Summer.

The wife was watering the potatoes in the polystyrene  welding packaging box yesterday in the polytunnel.  She decided to give the spud plants a thorough soaking.  Suddenly she shouts to me:

"I've got summat to show you!"

The power of the water from the hose had washed the soil/compost from the surface and we could see our our very first new potatoes!  

That is a first.  Spuds ready on the 16th of May.  

All gardeners have dirty finger nails.

Just in time for tea!

They grew in compost and I fed them with my nettle 'garden' tea.  They are delicious.  Are your potatoes ready yet?

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Tight Wad Gardening. New Additions To The Plant Nursery.

We purchased seven perennials at the rare plant show at Glin castle on Sunday.  I bought one individually and six for twenty five Euros.  Instead of paying 6 Euros each.  Which converts this morning to five Pounds and twenty four Pence.   Flipping heck!

I took them into 'Portugal' my poly-tunnel 
 and the operation commenced.  Remember the gardeners mathematical equation? The only way to multiply is to divide!  

I ended up with thirty seven new potted plants for my nursery.  Yes they will take a bit to grow back to the same size before division but Oak trees once were acorns.  

Monday, 13 May 2019

A Grand Day Out At Glin Castle Plant Fair And A Saunter Around The Gardens..

We visited three counties (Cork, Kerry and Limerick) yesterday and went to the Rare Plant Fair at Glin Castle on the Shannon estuary.  It was a beautiful day and reminded me of Cholmondley Castle in Cheshire.  Here's some photos for your perusal and enjoyment.

Me at  the plant fair in my blue hiking jacket and scruffy jeans, cap and walking shoes.  Looking at plants.  I bought seven perennials.  Talk about a bus man's holiday.

A young lady looking at one of the magnificent Gunneras.  What a fine specimen.  I have one in my garden.  But not that big.

Two photos of Glin castle.  Taylor Swift and her boyfriend stayed here recently.  She paid 45000 Euros for the priviledge.  
Inside the walled kitchen garden.  God was in his heaven and I was too.  The walls make a wonderful micro-climate and there where flowers in full bloom and the veg was thriving.  

Neat rows of vegetables.  The white sticks in the ground say things like: Onions, peas...?
 An ode to a Grecian Urn.  What a magnificent specimen.
 The old yard leading to the productive kitchen garden.  Complete with  gardeners' bothy's, stables and dove cotes and even a tractor.  I would love to have seen this hive of industry back in the day when country houses employed lots of staff and horses.  

It was a great day out and bought seven plants and Taylor Swift started playing in my head.  

Here's a video of the gardens at Glin.  It's only short and worth watching!  

Have you visited any gardens or plant fairs recently?

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

The Amsterdam Visits Bantry.

We noticed the massive cruiser: Amsterdam berthed in Bantry harbour yesterday morning.  The launches brought passengers into town.  Some of the tourists carried umbrellas and wore raincoats and held cameras and took photos and went a for a pint of the "black stuff" or a "nice cup of tea".  Others boarded coaches and went on day trips to Beara and no doubt Killarney.  

My mother use to tell me about back in the fifties when the American and British Atlantic liners use to berth in Bantry Bay.  Back in the time when me mum met my dad ("In Baghdad where my mother met my dad") the tourists would flock to see Cork and Kerry.  Then along came the jet planes and they flew into Shannon. 

However or but.  Since Bantry Harbour Commissioners built the new jetty and the ships have returned.  It's just a shame West Cork or Bantry doesn't have an Eden Project.  

Something for the tourists to visit even when its raining!  Perhaps the Euro Millions could donate 36 million for a worthwhile project.  Well they did in Cornwall.  Changing a China clay quarry into a tourist attraction.

The passengers on the Amsterdam have almost completed an 114 cruise voyage leaving Fort Lauredale in Florida and then onto: Panama, Peru, Chile, Pitcairn Island, French Polynesia, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, India ("flipping heck"), Oman, Jordan, Suez Canal, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Scotland, Belfast, Dublin, Cobh and Bantry by the sea.  Then back to Florida.

Here she goes on her way to Florida.  Here's a song for the passengers to use enjoy their supper and voyage and thanks for passing where we live.

We watch that cruise ship programme on Friday nights starring Jane McDonald.  I love her self deprecating northern humour and it was wonderful seeing them sail along the river Duoro in Portugal recently.

Have you ever been on a cruise?  The ship not a missile!  I like to jump on a plane and get to my destination.  Aren't flights boring?  

I usually start imagining one of the air hostesses turning into Britney Spears and singing "Toxic".  The missus reads a book or watches a filum (eighteen years in Ireland) and I look at my watch every five minutes.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Earthing Up The Spuds And A New Profile Photo.

The missus took the photograph of the old gardener  (me) earthing up the spudatoes rows the other day.  I had read that Jack Frost was coming to town and painting everything with ice.  Of course the  television weather forecasters in Dublin and London got it wrong.  Do they just look out of their windows and decide that's the weather for everywhere?

I like the photo though and have put it on my blog profile.  What are you doing in the veg plot and garden?  I am supposed to be weeding all week.  

I went into town today and weeded and planted up at the bed and breakfast where I work for a few hours in the Summer time.  

A friendly Robin perched on the rim of the wheelbarrow and watched me work.  Then it inspected the soil for any grubs or worms.  I have often wondered if gardeners are reincarnated in to Robins?  They really are a wonderful creature!

Monday, 6 May 2019

Growing Willow Cuttings For Next To Nowt.

I recently placed some willow cuttings in an old plastic tub full of garden soil.  Then I forgot about them for about six weeks.  The other day I noticed all the cuttings had leaves.  So I pulled them out and noticed they also had grown roots.  My own portable hedge!
My very own portable willow hedge!  The stones are free too!
Me in my gardening clothes holding one of the newly rooted willow plants.
I planted the hedge and made some more cuttings.  You don't need to spend money when you can grow stuff for free.

Shall we have a link to a rock song Dave?  Yes my mental jukebox began to play an old Jethro Tull song.  Not the inventor of the seed drill, the band.  I have seen them five times and they are playing Cork in September.  Hmm...?  I am going seeing the Martin Barre band in August at a festival in England.  Can't wait.  Who would think I would be going to rock festivals in my fifties?  I am staying in digs though.  Here's the appropriate Tull track folks:

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Things Are Hotting Up In The Poly-tunnel.

Its amazing what different a bit of plastic makes to growth.  Watering helps too.  Especially with my garden teas.  The smell is not very nice but the plants love it.  All praise to the barrel of water, nettles, pillow case full of country pancakes (think about it) and a lawnmower box of grass clippings.  All mixed and stirred together with a trusty fence post.  In the photo above there are lettuces growing in plant pots, toms in grow bags, cucumbers in grow bags and potatoes growing in plant pots.
More potatoes growing where the tomatoes grew last year.  They are also pushing up their haulm or stalks outside the tunnel.  I earthed them the other day and they have their hands pushed through again.
Remember the potatoes I planted in that polystyrene box that the welder came in?  They aren't far off flowering.  I can't wait to pick them!
 Brassicas growing in pots and cuttings growing in trays of sand.  The tunnel gets watered twice a day at the moment.  Sometimes with the hosepipe and other times with the degging can.  That;s an old North of England word for a watering can.  
Capsicums and Chilli Peppers growing in pots.  There are pampas grass and bamboo seeds in the plastic modules.  We're waiting for them to germinate.  We bought them from Geek.  Have you heard of Geek?  The seeds came all the way from China!

Have you got a poly-tunnel?  Thinking of getting one?  

New Potatoes.

Here are our new potatoes freshly dug and washed from the veg plot.  I spread homemade compost in the spring and planted them in the grou...