Friday 28 June 2019

Cheap Wad Salt Weedkiller For Garden Paths!

I hate seeing vegetation when its been killed by chemical weedkillers.  It looks like somethings urinated on the wild plants.  If I had my own way chemical weedkillers like Round Up would be banned.  

I have been looking for a 'Organic' or natural product to use for killing weeds on paths.  Then I remember reading about the estate gardeners of of old gathering sand from the beaches and brushing and shoveling the sand over the estate paths.  The salt in the sand killed any unwanted vegetation and at the same time they made sure none of it went on to the herbaceous borders.

So the other day I had my light bulb moment and did purchase a cardboard box of table salt from Lidl for 24 CENTS!  I know.  But you have to splash the cash sometimes.  

The salt was scattered along the weeds growing in the pointing of the paving slabs.  Then it was left for several days to do its work.  Here's what happened:

Notice how I managed to capture my shadow?  The salt killed the weeds and I didn't scatter/spill any on the Alchemilla Mollis/ Ladies Mantle.  All it needs now is for me to pull up the dead weeds.

Do you have any weed-killing tips that don't cost much?  

Blog update:  We've been busy bees and pulled up the dead weeds and swept the path today!

Tuesday 25 June 2019

Plants From The Rare Plant Fair In Flower.

Do you  remember when we went to the Rare Plant Plant Fair at Glin Castle in county Limerick? We purchased 7 plants and I did divide them and made 37 new ones.  Anyway here's two of them that have decided to put on a show and flower.  Hope you like them?

Peltoboykinia Watanabei.  Eh?  I feel like the football fan at a Borussia Monchengladbach football match who shouts: "Give us a B.."

Its from Japan and its an hardy perennial.
Saxifraga Stolonifera.  Its also from Asia.  Like most of our vegetables its not native to Europe.  It's got hairy leaves.  The plants-man who sold it us told us that any plant with hairs on its leaves will thrive next to the sea.
Here is one of my Saxifraga plants.  They grow wild in Ireland and are often called: St Patricks Cabbages.  The most common Saxifraga is 'London Pride'.  Apparently the first plant to flower in the burned out Blitz London gardens were the Saxifragas and they are called 'London Pride' because of this.  They are a great symbol of resilience.

My hard plastic glasses case is next to the Saxifraga because I am tired of taking photos that are pitch black.  The wheelie bin sits proud in the veg plot and I fill it with water from the hose and fill up my watering can.

Do you have any unusual plants in your garden?  

Sunday 23 June 2019

A Nice Find At The Charity Shop.

My brother knows my love for collecting old things.  Yesterday he gave me this Japanese bowl.  He found it in his local Charity shop.

This is how it looks stood up on the coffee table.
Underneath the bowl is a green crest/stamp which says: Hand Painted, a letter M and Nippon.
The picture inside the bowl.  There is a white swan on a lake and there's an idyllic cottage behind the trees.  I think its beautiful.  I love Japanese gardens and its good to gaze at the picture and dream of going one day to visit Japan, especially on a day like today when its throwing it down here in not very sunny Ireland.
I looked up the green letter M on the old tinternet and T'web.  Apparently the Morimura brothers in Japan used it since 1911 on their pottery up until 1920.  

It's incredible that this bowl could be nearly one hundred years old and its still survived.  I saw one one similar on a  Canadian Ebay site for 65 Dollars!  

What a nice find.  I'll put in the cabinet with the rest of our collections.  I think we are related to Wombles!  Have you found anything that you treasure from a car boot sale or charity shop?

Friday 21 June 2019

Parsnip Seed Germination Persistance.

Philip from Notes From A Suffolk Smallholding (great blog) posted a blog about growing Parsnips on June the eleventh.  We haven't had much success growing them this year.  I think its because we sow them at the traditional sowing time of February.  Saying that February was a very good month here in Ireland and the week we went to Portugal.

I use to grow beetroot for my mum and parsnips for my dad.  But now they live in the great allotment called Heaven.  We haven't tried to grow them any more until this year that is.  I have ONE growing in the veg plot and one I found growing in a plastic module tray in the polytunnel.  I have potted on into a bigger pot and named it 'Persistance' the parsnip.

Persistance my pet parsnip!  Isn't she lovely?  Must be sexist to vegetables!

Sowing and germination the Notes From A Suffolk Smallholding Way.  Ten days instead of the usual 28.  Thanks Phillip for the tip. See the little white tails on the parsnip seeds.
Twenty germinated parsnip seeds popped into a plant pot full of Bulrush potting compost.  I like this compost for potting up my cuttings, seeds and divided perennials.  What compost do use?  I find a lot of the cheap composts use peat and it forms a crust when it dries out.

Parsnips are members of the carrot family.  I once made a great parsnip and carrot bed when we had allotments in Blighty.  I stood some two x two paving slabs on end and a couple of inches in the ground and made a rectangle shaped raised bed.  Then I filled it with sieved top soil and river sand (some sand contains salt, especially if its from the coast) and we had whopper carrots and parsnips that year.  Any vegetables that you struggle to grow?

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Northsider Gardens.

Here are  some photographs from Northsider Gardens:

A wild rambling rose I propagated from a cutting last summer.  Is now in flower.
One of the North facing gardens.  I made this garden two years a go.
The East side of the polytunel veg plot.  There are onions, swedes, peas, celery and lots of perennials in  plant pots. I fill the wheelie bin with the hosepipe and fill up my watering can when feeding the tomatoes and vegetables with their liquid feed.
South of the polytunnel.  Hundreds and hundreds of perennials that I have grown from division and from cuttings.  
The bungalow garden.  It's only small but there are over forty potted plants, a plastic sheep (we do live on the Sheepshead Peninsula), a lady statue with a Grecian urn, weeding buckets, patio furniture and lots of perennials.  Not forgetting the Fuchsia hedges and phormiums!
The round circle garden in front of the old farmhouse.  There are a mixed collection of perennials.  Notice the yellow Loosetrife just coming into flower?

The wall border full of Nasturtiums, Geraniums, Cat Mint and Arum Lilies.
The West of the polytunnel veg plot.  All the potatoes are flowering at the moment.  Hope you enjoyed my garden tour?

What about you showing us some photos of your garden?  I would love to see them!

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?

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...