Wednesday 27 March 2019

The Heath Robinson Type Cold Frame Back In Use Again In The Veg Plot.

Yes folks it that time of the year again.  Regular readers will have seen my 'cold frame' before.    I moved it brick by by brick again this morning.  It's two rows of bricks with a shower curtain placed on top of it.  The stick propping up the frame cost nothing and neither did any of the materials.  Even the plant pots are ones rescued from a recycling centre and they won't be going in landfill just yet.

There are approximately 150 of my plant cuttings in the frame.  I even made another frame with some pieces of 3x2 wood I had lying round and I placed another shower curtain on top of that.  That's two cold frames for Nowt or nuffink!  Do my plants wish they lived in a nice garden centre bought cold frame?  Nah.  They're like me.  They have had to rough it all their lives.  

Do you have any gardening tips that cost nothing?

Sunday 24 March 2019

I Found New Plants In The Hedgerow.

I was rooting about behind the compost heap yesterday and noticed some of my pink Fuchsia shrub cuttings had decided to root themselves.  They must of been hedge trimmings I had dumped their last summer.  So I put them in my bucket (tree plant pot) and headed for my 'office', my poly-tunnel.  I managed to find my secatuers again.  I lost two pairs of them last week.  But like most thing that get lost.  They turn up sometimes.  Any way I cut up the rooted bits and potted them up.  

Yep,  Another gardening post!

In total I made twelve new plants.  Ten Fuchsia, one Buddleia and one Lemon Balm.  You can see my donkey knees in the photo.  What have you been up to in the garden. veg plot?  I have been very busy and the plot is ready for growing season.  It makes such a difference when it's not raining, for a change!

Thursday 21 March 2019

In Praise Of Salycyclic Acid.

If there is one tree that is amazing its the Willow.  The Irish call it a 'Sally' which is close to its botanical or 'Sunday' name.  Like me being called David.   I remember years ago going on a coach trip to Morecambe with my parents and I wanted a gold plated bracelet with my name on it.  The elderly and very smart dressed shop owner lady asked me what name did I want engraved on it.  I said:  "Dave".  She said: " Young man you will have been Christened David and that's the name you will be having on the bracelet."  My mum and dad laughed!  I walked out rather crestfallen with my gold plated bracelet with'DAVID' on it.  I don't think I wore it much, if at all!
"Would you like a 'nice' cup of tea?"
Any road.  Where was I?  Yeah!  I have been making my own 'rooting' liquid.  All you need is a willow tree. Get some secateurs and cut yourself some twigs.  Then cut them into small (2.54 Centimetres) or an inch if you work in Imperial for lots of things and Centimetres for small bits like fractions.  Then fill yourself a jam jar of H2),Adam's Ale' and pop the willow pieces in.  Some folk use hot water, I used cold water.  "Bob's your uncle".  You have made your own rooting liquid.  

I usually use hormone rooting powder.  But now I use my homemade rooting liquid!  Apparently its the Salycyclic acid from the willow.  Willow is one of the sacred trees of Ireland.  Its said to be one of the first trees to grow after the Ice Age.  Willow is used to treat psoriasis, Aspirin, for biomass, water divining, cricket bats...?  It really is a wonderful tree.

Sunday 17 March 2019

From Half A Veg Plot To A Plant Nursery?

Over the last few years I have become more and more interested in the division and cuttings/propagation of perennials and shrubs.  The veg plot is no longer the main focus of my gardening.

Of course we still grow vegetables like early spudatoes, onions, cabbages, tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, swedes, lettuces...?  But since the arrival of the polytunnel six years ago and Lidl arriving in Bantry.  We can manage with half a veg plot.  You can't beat leeks for forty nine Cents can you?

Yes I know they could have been sprayed with weedkillers and grown with chemical fertilizers.  Yes our veg have never seen any chemicals and they are fresh when we pick them.  I just feel a bit defeatist when I realise  that the cheap vegetables save a lot of work and the world is not perfect.  Never was never will be. 

I don't think there is anything more quintessentially English than a cottage garden with its patchwork quilt approach to informal planting.  Nature doesn't have a spirit level does it?

So what will I do with all my surplus plants?  I will sell them on carboot sales and perhaps a few shops will sell some for me?  If anybody in Cork or Kerry wants any perennials or shrubs.  Please leave a comment.  Has anybody ever started a plant nursery?  Have you thought of growing things and selling them?

Tuesday 12 March 2019

Potato Planting In Polystyrene Planters In The Polytunnel.

"Peter  Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers."  That's what my blog title sounds like, doesn't it?  Today is March the twelfth.  Traditionally In Ireland, Praeties (potatoes) were planted on St Patrick's Day, the 17th.  This is also the day when the cows went out for the summer grazing.  

However after the warmest February and probably the wettest March we have resorted to plant some in my office, my poly-tunnel.  

Regular readers will know that I have lots of recycling ideas and a great believer that gardening and vegetable gardening in particular should not cost much.

The old estate  gardeners believed in home made compost, and make do and mending and propagation by cuttings and division.

Number one son bought a new welder and it came in a cardboard box which I used in the veg plot and it's polystyrene packaging is now a potato planter in the poly-tunnel.  I just punctured some drainage holes and filled them up with compost from my compost piles.

We bought some seed potatoes (2 bags for 5 Euros) from our favourite German garden (Lidl) centre in Bantry and planted  8 potatoes in the two planters.  Then we covered them up with some more of our homemade compost.  I also planted some red onions in trays.  They will be planted out in a week or three when they start shooting and they won't rot in the cold and wet soil.  I have planted my white onions outside a couple of weeks ago and they are not happy bunnies. 

We will plant the other early potatoes in a couple of weeks and this gives me time to clear the plot of weeds and for it to dry out.  Have you started thinking or even planting in the veg plot? We have got seeds sprouting in the kitchen and they love the warmth of the central heating.  

Monday 4 March 2019

Altan In Killarney

 We set off for Killarney on Saturday morning.  We stopped at Casey's garage in Bantry and filled up the car with diesel and bought two steak pasties.  Then we stopped at the carpark opposite the ruins of Carriginass Castle and ate our pasties.  

Built in 1540.This was a former home of Dermot O'Sullivan.  He was a member of the O'Sullivan clan.  They owned a large part of West Cork land in those days. It was a very wet and windy Saturday.

We went to Killlarney Nec to The Gathering Festival.  We got tickets to see Altan.  They come from the same neck of the woods that Clannad come from: Gweedore in County Donegal.  They are a band who I have wanted to see for a while.  I have seen Clannad three times in Manchester.

The poster for the concert. 

 Altan in concert.
Altan and the Sliabh Luachra Band all performed together for the final song.  The first band didn't play until 9.30 and Altan came on at 10.55 and finished at 12.25.  It was a good night and great to see another legendary Irish band.  

Check out some of the great videos from the concert on You Tube.  Just type: Altan Killarney!  Here's an appropiate recorded track for the weather over the weekend.

Friday 1 March 2019

Fishing Tales.

Fishing  is another pastime frequented by all different kinds of people.  You get the small kid who just wants to catch a fishy on the lishy.  He is happy catching sticklebacks and sharing his mum’s sandwiches with the local wildlife. Then there is the trout fisherman who only uses the fly and disapproves at the common Coarse fishing angler.   Trout man spends all his time trying to imitate a May fly and thinking of interesting tweed jackets.   He is often seen at a private stocked troutery, fishing for Triploids (had their sex organs electrically removed so they resemble bullocks) that  have had about two dustbins of trout pellets a second.  Trout man is really chuffed when he catches one of the Leviathans and proudly shows off his catch!
I spent a lot of my youth and early adulthood Coarse fishing.  Every stream, flooded quarry, canal, mill pond, river, reservoir and lodge was fished.  All just so that I could catch a fish and let it go again.  
Oh what joy it was to look down at your maggot box and see a big brown rat eating the bran.  I am terrified of rats (shit scared) and they soon helped me pack up my tackle and run home!  I think my rat phobia goes back to my childhood. 
I once went out the back street one winter’s night in my stocking feet to let my beloved dog Tess back in after her ablutions and a good bark.  A great big greasy looking sewer rat type very kindly decided to walk over my feet.  I turned and fled and unofficially broke the world 100 metres record.  
Anyway I digress.  I spent many a happy and not so happy time fishing.  I enjoyed my time sitting fishing with a keep net full of Thwaites beer and half bottle of whisky to keep me warm.
 I can recall breaking ice with a stone and spending TWO hours shivering and feeling sorry for myself.  I never caught anything but what’s better than a bit of hypothermia now again.  I met a few anoraks on my fishing adventures.  I often  remember the one man and his dog that would stand behind you watching your float for about five minutes.  Then they would say:
 “Have you caught out (anything) mate.” 
I would reply yes or no and they would shrug their shoulders and walk off.  Thanks a lot Mr dog walker for standing behind me and sending me paranoid.  Oh the times I used to think some mass murderer was going to kill me and make me into their dog: Rover’s dog food. 
One time I joined a local fishing society.  I walked the two miles to my new fishing paradise and began to assemble my fishing rod.  A friendly neighbouring angler fishing on the opposite peg greeted me by saying:
 “Get to f*ck off there.  You’re not fishing on my peg”. 
I looked in front of my peg (a prostrate wooden pallet, precariously hanging over the water) and noticed the “friendly Fishermans” float.   I tried to protest that I was only fishing on a vacant peg and he threatened to give me good hiding. 
I was only 16 and he was about forty.   Friendly fisherman was built like the proverbial brick shit house, and his cat had obviously urinated on their corn flakes that very morning.   So I picked up my tackle and left “friendly angler” to his half of the fishing lodge. 
There is another kind of angler fisherman.  He is the fisherman who spends all his or her time (most women aren’t so stupid) thinking they will catch the biggest carp, cat fish or pike in the world. 
 Big fisherman  spends all its money and time drooling over pictures of big fish (there is another creature that drools over big women) and spending its money on a trip to Saint Lake Cassin in France.  The Loch Ness monsters relatives live in the depths of the lake.  Big Fishermans wife is a fishing widow and dreams of spending a week in a static caravan in Skegness. 
I used to like doing a bit of fishing.  I would fill my keep net with eight cans of Thwaites bitter and lie on the canal towpath for the afternoon.  I didn’t usually catch anything,  but I always got a tan and pleasantly drunk.

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...