Wednesday 30 May 2018

A Cruiser Sails Into The Bay.

When mum met my dad("In Baghdad where my mother met my dad" and other childhood songs)  in the mid nineteen fifties.  She remembered massive ocean liners like the Queen Mary docking in Bantry Bay. The launches would take tourists into Glengarriff and Bantry.  

Then along came the jet engines and the ships disappeared.  That is until now.  An eight million Euro investment into building Bantry Marina and dredging the harbour. Now means that the cruise liners have returned.  No doubt the EEC funded the improvements?  Good on them.  

This is the Prinsendam.  She's beautiful.  The picture was taken on Sunday afternoon from inside the car.  It was wonderful to see tourists leaving the launches/life boats and walking round Bantry town. No doubt going for a "nice cup of tea" and a pint of the black stuff.

The mental juke box (Neil Peart saying) in my head started playing the following:

Monday 28 May 2018

Another One Of My Gardens.

We made this garden last summer.  Number one son cleared and levelled and broke rock with his digger.  He also laid the round patio whilst I laboured on him.

The lawn, paths, borders and planting were carried out by yours truly.  Even the perennials were divided and they cost us nothing.  Just our time.

You can see dark green patches in the bottom picture.  That's the Nettle garden tea fertilizer.  I am very pleased with it.  The stench in the barrel of decomposing nettles and water is on the list of bad country smellls.  It's probably in my top three along with slurry and broiler house smell.

I noticed a patch of clover the other day.  Apparently they grow where there is not much nitrogen.  I quite like daisies and clover.  I think the Nettle brew will give the lawn the nitrogen it requires.

Tuesday 22 May 2018

Lets Have Our Own Chelsea Flower Show,

Are you watching Chelsea Flower Show on the Beeb?  We watched Sundays preview but missed last nights instalment.  

I prefer the traditional Cottage gardens with Herbaceous Perennials, dry stone walls, allotment themed gardens,  Not the ones that look like the landscaped area outside an office block or bank. Gardens with plants and natural materials: water, stone, wood, lawns, flowers and not concrete.

Any way I thought why don't all us folk in Blogland have our own version of Chelsea Flower Show and show some of our very own gardens?  Here's a couple of photos from one of our gardens designed by ourselves and planted by yours truly.  

Its a labour of love and anybody can have a nice garden, yard for not very much money.  Just lots of work and a love of plants.  Your turn next.  Show us your gardens please!

 The back of the bungalow taken from over the hedge in the picture below.  This was full of brambles, rock and nettles when we first moved here.  Do you like the lady statue?  I think this garden would be good for a back yard.  Lots of pots, ornaments, gravel and plants with a curtain Fuschia hedge.  Its about fifty lfeet long by twenty foot wide.
Number one son and me his labourer made these steps the other Sunday.  It took four hours.  I had the paving slabs left over from the back garden behind the farmhouse.  That's another garden we made last year.  The blocks are second hand and I had to chisel off mortar to make them use able again.  

The building in the background is the old milk house.  Its where my dad's ancestors stored the milk to keep it cool.  I use it for a shed these days. 

Your turn now!

Sunday 20 May 2018

A Recycled Rusty Garden Table And Carrot Wheelbarrow Planter....

Here are some more of my recycling uses around the veg plot.  I made use of a  rusty old garden table for putting cuttings in pots in the poly-tunnel.  It doesn't look very attractive but its perfectly functional and its not ready for the scrap metal pile yet.  

 I bought this wheelbarrow because it had plastic sides and thus it was very light when moving soil and muck around.  They are not partial to big stones and paving slabs and it finally cracked when we use it for a concrete job.  The wheel is punctured too.  

No worries thinks me.  I utilized the wheelbarrow for growing our carrots in,  So I put it in situ and filled it with a sandy soil mix.  Checking for stones along the way.  Carrots don't like too rich or stony soil.   Then we sowed it with carrot seeds.  

The carrots are sown more than twelve inches above the ground. So in theory Mr and Mrs Carrot Fly should not give them any trouble.  They don't fly above twelve inches.  Not many people know that!
I could not resist giving the new Catmint cuttings a yank and seeing if any roots had formed.  They had.  See picture.  This is now potted up on the the patio garden table.  Isn't nature incredible?  

Friday 18 May 2018

Royal Family Knitters And Tales About Posh Houses

Seeing that its the wedding of the year tomorrow and the annual day out at Wembley for MUFC.  I have  decided to give you have a free read of another one of my characters from the book that wants publishing soon!

    This is a very strange creature indeed.  Common in all villages, towns and cities. Females seem to out number the males, but there are some exceptions.  They integrate with all members of the social class system and the staple diet seems to be chips. 

I once met a lovely old lady who spent the majority of  her time knitting woolen garments for the Royal family.  It was around the time of  Prince William’s’ birth.  (Showing you’re age there Davy boy! )  The Royal Family knitter decided that Charles and Diana could do with some hand knitted clothes for their new Royal baby.  Never mind the poor and the homeless in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool or even London.   

The Royal families new arrivals need was far more important.  Well we hadn’t had much of a Summer that year, had we?  The lady was a staunch Socialist and Royalist.  Sorry?  Yes.  I said she was a Royalist Socialist  Her rented council house was full of Royal family Coronation mug souvenirs and she always voted Labour.  She hated the aristocracy and the ruling classes, but the Queen was a good old brick.  No doubt she probably thought:
“Look at all the money she brings into the country?  Imagine having to smell new paint every day.  It must be awful having to eat all those seven course dinners? “    

While we are on the subject about my auntie Elizabeth Windsor.  I once had a conversation in a pub (where else?) with a woman who claimed that she had the Queen’s personal phone number:
 “They have got to give it you, you know.” 
Says I. 
“British Telecom,”
Says she.

“They are compelled by law to give you any phone number you ask for.” 

“Oh right.”  Is there any chance of you giving me Pamela Andersons phone number?”
I thought of asking her if she knew God’s email address?  But I decided not to bother.   One could of asked pertinent questions like the following:

1.     Why when it’s Winter, does it take so long for you to turn the outside lights on up in yonder sky?
2.      Do you have problems paying the leccy (electricity) bill like we do down here?
I digress. 
Apparently there is more chance of you dialing any number at random, and the queen picking up the phone receiver, than you have of winning the Lotto!  You can just imagine it can’t you. 
“Hello Elizabeth Regina Windsor here, who am I talking too?”
“It’s me.  Do you and the Duke of Edinburgh fancy popping round for a nice cup of tea and some custard creams?”
Royal Family Knitters often have strange political beliefs.  Some of them believe in the nationalization of the banks, a free national health service, no nuclear weapons and the repatriation for all foreign people.  One election they will vote Labour and Conservative the next.  I think it’s that multi-headed monster they call democracy thingamajig.  Right Mr Hitler!  Labour preserves the health service and builds council houses.  Conservatives let you buy your council houses, cheap rates (no services) and give you permanent holidays on the dole.  Royal Family knitter believes in a revolution and redistribution of eighty percent of the wealth, owned by three percent of the country.  The House of Lords will be disbanded immediately.  But the queen can stay.  She does brings a lot of money into the country, and she even lets you PAY to walk round her house.

I once went to Sandringham (the queen’s posh country smallholding in Norfolk,) suffering from food poisoning.  A very big cook (Little Chef) had poisoned me the afternoon before.   It was a lovely summer’s day, so we decided to go and see how the other half live.  The queen’s herbaceous borders made wonderful sick depositories.
 I stood wrenching and vomiting while tourists passed by with expressions of horror.  Not one person asked me ;
“Are you alright mate?”
or :
“There, there”. 
They just looked horrified as if to say:
 “That scruffy northerner is fetching up in the queen’s borders.  Send for the Beef Eaters and take him to the Tower of London.” 
Eventually I recovered and went for a shufty and mosey round her majesty’s regal pad.  We walked along roped off pathways, and viewed the queens sun faded furniture, pottery and some of her “bling”. 
The Majolica pots were horrible.  If  I had seen them on a car boot sale I wouldn’t have paid a fiver for them.  They were worth about a quarter of a million, or a two up and two down ex agricultural labourers cottage in Cheshire.   The diamond encrusted Faberge eggs were nice though and would have looked good on our sideboard, underneath the flying ducks on the Muriel! (Mural).  Bring back Hilda and Eddie Yates, and Elsie Tanner. 
Talking of  Sandringham and posh houses.  I once helped build half a golf course (the other nine already existed).  I said one morning to a digger driver:
 “Did you have a good weekend Bill?” 
He replied:
 “Not really.  We went to that Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.   It was a Bank Holiday and the world and his wife had decided to visit.  The traffic tail-backs went back for miles.  We eventually got inside and it was full of snobby twonks (he didn’t say twonks).  The house was full of old furniture and paintings.  She likes that kind of shit!  I wouldn’t mind there wasn’t even an effing bar to get a pint!” 
He was so right.  The upper classes could have really learned from the proletariat “great unwashed” who built their stately piles for them.  They could have experienced Formica, Caramac, Stylophones and flat packed wardrobes.  I thought to myself.  “It’s good that working class people have cultural experiences on their days off!”  Perhaps they might become Royal Family Knitters? 

Tuesday 15 May 2018

More Recycling Ideas For The Veg Plot, Allotment Or Smallholding.

Having served my vegetable growing apprenticeship in the allotments of northwest England and North Wales and a smallholding in West Cork. 

I have come to the conclusion that gardening does need to cost the earth,  No pun intended! 

I made two cold frames from some old block paving bricks I had lying around and the cold frame glass is two doors from a shower curtain.  Yes I use a stick to prop them open and its not got an hinge like those posh manufactured cold frames that you can buy.  But to use one of Catherine Tate's comic characters quote:

"Am I bothered?"

 This one is propped up with a piece of chipboard flooring that was left over from the farmhouse renovation last year.  I didn't use any cement or mortar and it cost me ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to make on a Sunday morning when all the builders merchants and garden centres are CLOSED!  My Japanese onions are doing well.  We ate one for tea the other night and the freshness was better than anything you buy in the shops.  There are some strawberries growing in an old tractor tyre behind the japs.  This could do with weeding Dave!  Behind that is my pallet compost heap.  Its getting big.  More recycling.

Planted with lettuces.  I planted some of my perennials on the perimeter of the cold frame.  They will flower and also be part of my nursery stock.   

If you look closely.  You will see roots on my newly rooted Cotoneaster plants.  They are now planted and sat on my old metal patio table.  Its rusted and corroded patina and frame doesn't look very good.  Put it makes a great plant table in ye olde polytunnel.

More recycling ideas soon!

Sunday 13 May 2018

Recycling Week. Plant Pots For Free.

I have decided to have a recycling week theme for the blog.  Please join in with your recycling ideas for in the garden, allotment or in the home?

Today its flower pots or plant pots.  I had one of my Eureka moments yesterday morning when I was wakening from my slumber.   I was thinking to myself:

"Why are plant pots brown?  Even when they are plastic."  I suppose its because flower pots/plant pots use to be made mainly out of terracotta clay.  How many gardeners have heavy clay in their gardens?  Imagine if you could make pots or turn a potters wheel?  Remember Pansy Potter The Strong mans Daughter?   Oh to read The Dandy and The Beano again!  Remember Corporal Clott from The Victor comic?  He could take on a German Panzer unit with his bare fists.  What about Roy of the Rovers?

Sorry I digress.  I am always looking for plant pots to make new garden plants with.  I could always buy some small four inch pots for about fifteen Cents each.  Or I could always make some for free?  So that is what I did.  I saved one Euro fifty for myself and recycled some plastic.  Its an help anyway.
New see through plant pot.  Should be great especially for cuttings.   

Plastic bottles rescued from the recycling bin.  They are cut in half to make cloches (top half) to protect our delicate vegetable plants from Mr and Mrs Snail and Slug.  The bottom half have holes made in them for drainage.  I used a knife but its far safer to use a battery drill!

 I made about fifteen plant pots for free.  They are at the side of my my'potting'bath in the poly-tunnel.  I fill the bath with my homemade potting mix.  Soil and gritty sand are the main ingredients.  They are only going into garden soil when they are planted out so I don't bother buying compost for herbaceous perennials.  I do for cuttings and sowing seeds sometimes!

Somebody gave me some cooking oil buckets.  I fill them with water and use them to fill my watering can.  My late mother use to call it a "Degging" can.  Apparently its an old Lancashire word for a watering can.  The water in the buckets help to keep a humid almost Tropical climate in the poly-tunnel.  Some people would say it looks cluttered.  But it saves filling up the watering can from the tap outside the farm house.  I sometimes use the hose pipe but its a bit harsh and heavy on seedlings and new plants.

Some plant pots made from the cooking oil tubs.  We drilled holes in them and filled them up with garden soil from the veg plot.  The holes in the veg pot were filled with well rotted cow manure.  Garden soil is like a bank account.  You should not take it out unless your going to put something back!

Talking of money.  I split two of my Phormiums (New Zealand Flax) and planted them.  There are over twenty of them.  I saw some in a garden centre for fifteen Euros a piece the other day.  I will sell them you for a fiver each or perhaps we could barter?

You can see my pig slat path.  This was another recycling idea.  It collects grass and I should have put a membrane (plastic bags) under it.  But I didn't and it will get weeded like everywhere else.  More recycling ideas soon.  What recycling ideas have you?  

Friday 11 May 2018

Dessert Is Served In The Veg Plot.

I had one of my brainwaves ("oh no!") the other day.  I found a trifle in the fridge that was well passed its sell by date.  So me thinks to myself:

"Why not give the slugs and snails a slap up treat and I will catch them?"

So I took the trifle in its plastic ("what else these days?") container and plonked it down right in the middle of my slug laced Brassicas.  
Then I went back in the house for a sandwich and a brew.  I came back about ten minutes later and there to my horrow was a big brown RAT scoffing my snails and slugs trifle.  I called it names of an Anglo Saxon derivation and it fled through the sheep wire fence into the nettles and buttercups and grass growing next to the plot.

I was not an happy bunny and marched into the bungalow kitchen and read the riot act to Domino (the cat) and Fido (the terrier) about them not earning their keep.  They both walked out the door and they weren't allowed back in that day.  

Yesterday when I was working (gardening) at the big garden in town.  My wife rang me to tell me that either Domino or Fido had left me a furry present next to the garden furniture.   I think it must have been the cat because his murder technique is suffocation whilst Fido usually goes for the old: "Lets bite their heads off until their dead" method of execution. 

I got home later and sure enough there was a big brown dead rat ("You dirty rat!") lying prostrate on the gravel.  It seems quite clearly that dogs and cats understand every word we say!  

I won't be serving Dessert on the veg plot in the future.  If I want to find slugs and snails I just need to look in the compost heap, under a plank or under a paving slab, in my slug pubs or just look in my cabbage patch.  They are everywhere and you don't need to use trifle to find them or big brown Rattus Norvegicus.

Monday 7 May 2018

Its All Happening On The Veg Plot and Flower Garden.

I believe there is Fake News.  Fake Weather News Any way.  Do the weather forecasters look out of their windows in London and Dublin and decide what the weather is for all the country?  We have no Scorchio here.  It warmed up a bit and Ireland duly steamed up with Mizzle.  

I have heard people call Ireland "The Kettle" and they are right.  I think its mainly to do with the mountains being on so much of the coast and the mild Gulf Stream?  My spudatoes have started pushing their stalks through the soil.  Have yours?  Hope we don't get Blight with all this Mizzle.

Any way.  The weeds are growing like weeds and I have been busy.  
 A 'Slug Pub' in the middle of my cabbages.  Its an old Baked (Heinz of course") Beans can filled with some cheap and nasty beer we thought we would try.
 More "Slug Pubs" with plant labels lay prostrate to make the slugs and snails "walk the plank" and drop in after their last drink and also hopefully any useful Beetles don't fall in.
 Some of the hundreds of Perennials I have made this year.  Anybody want to buy some cheap pretty flowers?  
 Even the side of the poly-tunnel is playing at being a nursery for my plants. I placed them on a tarpaulin on top of some montbretia.  The plastic holds puddles of water and the plants drink it when they need it.
 A "Dog and Cat Pub".  This is an old pan full of water for Fido the terrier and Domino the cat have a drink of water when they so require.  The birds like it too!
 The cheapest poly-tunnel  in the world.  Just two old polythene bags.  They go over the plants in the picture below.  I can't believe how much moisture runs from under the plastic when I take it off.  I am reusing my plastic like Monty and Nellie and Nigel do on Gardeners World.
This is what it looks like when the plastic is removed.  The cat-mint (Nepeta) cuttings front left are growing like Triffids.  I made holes in some plastic buckets and filled them with with grit-sand and got hormone powder and dipped some cuttings in it and pushed the cuttings into the sand.  Everything is doing really well.  It just shows you don't need a tunnel to root your cuttings!  Anybody else making cuttings at the the moment?  Any propagation tips?  

Is there really an heatwave in Blighty?  I find it hard to believe.  The rain is coming for Wednesday.  Just for a change!

Thursday 3 May 2018

"It's Too Far For Simon!"

 Another one of my anecdotes:

About twenty two years ago.  My fiancee and myself decided to go on a week holiday touring Scarborough, the Yorkshire and the Lake District.  We didn't think our car was up to the journey so we hired a car from a carhire firm.

The Hyundai Pony looked good and we toured around and stayed at campsites.  It was the weekend when we stayed at a little camp site in Coniston.  We had pitched our little tent and decided to go for a spin into the town.  The ignition key broke in half and it was stuck.

We walked to a red telephone box and rang the hire company and told them our problem.  The lady said:

"He will be with you in twenty minutes.  Whereabouts are you?"


"What are you doing up there?  We thought you would only be going local.  It's far too far for Simon!"

It's a good job we were members of the AA!

Tuesday 1 May 2018

Making A Stinging Nettle Brew For The Garden And Veg Plot!

Its raining here today.  Yesterday I made some Stinging Nettle Garden tea fertilizer for the lawn, flowers and vegetables.  Why buy plant and lawn fertilizer when you can make your own for nuffink or even nowt?

I got an old pillowcase and put on my gardening gloves and used secateurs to cut and fill the pillowcase with nettles.  Then I tied it up and attached a piece of string to the pillowcase and tied to the handle of a bath full of rainwater.  

Then I dropped the pillowcase full of nettles into the bath and weighed it down with a big stone.  I have done this before with seaweed.  Some people use Comfrey.

In two weeks time I will use my nettle garden tea on my lawn, food and vegetables.  You are suppose to water it down: 10 -1.  I think the bath full of rainwater will dilute enough for me.  Anybody make their own garden brews?

What We Had For Our Smallholding Tea.

 The polytunnel and veg plot keeps on giving and we seem to be eating new spudatoes every day at the moment: Snowball onion, kale and new po...