Monday 27 February 2023

Signs Of Spring On The Veg Plot.


The part of my veg plot which I call my terraced house allotment is starting to show signs of growth.  I grew up in a red Accrington  brick two up and two down.  Yeah I own properties now but I don't  forget my  roots.  Rather like my plants.  

This new Brexit deal with Northern Ireland forgets that all people from Ireland can live in Blighty and all people from the home countries can live  in Ireland.  The great Michael Collins from West Cork sorted this agreement in the twenties  so why not the goods?
Furthermore if you where an EU member how can you legally have your rights taken away from you?

Sir Starmer will support the Tories.  He's another Tory Blair. The elephant in the room.

Any road. Rant over:

Onions are sprouting and so is the garlic.  I have sowed beetroot, parsnips, lettuce and peas in trays of potting compost in the polytunnel and I will plant up the rest of the containers in a few weeks.

We also have potatoes 🥔 chitting in their net bags on the book case in the front room.  Domino one of our smallholder cats is not very happy that they are there because he likes to have a cat nap on top of the bookcase.

I filled two barrels with fresh fym and added a few inches of soil.  Hopefully these will be hot 🔥 beds and generate heat to force crops in a few weeks time.  

My next job is to go collecting seaweed from a beach which is about 5 minutes from where we live.  The  beach owner allows me to collect seaweed from their beach.

There are supposed to be 50 trace elements in seaweed and it's one natural fertilizer that contains no weeds.  Unlike fym that always adds some weeds to the veg plot.  

Couch grass and nettles are the pernicious weeds that like my plot.  At least I don't have ground elder or Mares Tail.

What pernicious weeds to you have on your allotment or veg patch?  Do you use weedkiller?  I don't and never have used them on my veg plot in the countryside next to the sea.  

"Run Rabbit, Run Rabbit, Run, Run, A Homemade Rabbit Run."


Here's two the new rabbits having a bite to eat or nibble even of grass in their Run.

I strimmed the lawns the other day and didn't know the long eared lads and lasses were going to be put out by day. 

The weather is being kind to us at the moment down here on the Irish Riviera and it's look like a very early Spring.

We bought some Homeguard and British Queen seed potatoes from Lidl the other day and I have left them in their net bags to chit on top of the bookcase/unit in the front room.

Have you bought your seed potatoes and started chitting them yet?

Saturday 25 February 2023

Dogwood Plants For Nothing Or Even Nowt!

 You know you must be losing it when you find yourself like a fool in the rain (Led Zep song) with a pair of secateurs in one hand listening to Saxon on WhatsApp on my mobile phone and taking Cornus or Dogwood cuttings.

Dogwood must be related to Salix or willow and root really easily.  In fact if you stick them in the ground they root. 

I cut them into 4 to 6 inch lengths and pushed them into compost filled plant pots.  If they all grow I will have 120 hedging plants/shrubs for the price of a bit of potting compost.

It's not a bad way to pass half an hour or so on a rainy Wednesday in a polytunnel with a torn plastic cover on the Irish Riviera in February.

Anyone else make their own hedge plants?

Friday 24 February 2023

R Is For Rory Gallagher.


Yes I know the next letter on my favourite Rock bands is N but I was in Macroom on Monday and whilst the wife went shopping in our favourite discount supermarket and garden centre and beer providers.  I walked a few streets (blocks) back to take a picture of Rory Gallagher at the Mountain Dew Festival at Macroom Castle in 1977.  

It's  said to be the first real Rock festival in Ireland and even my second favourite band Thin Lizzy played there.

Macroom is a that town like the other West Cork towns that is no longer connected by  train and many people walked the 24 miles or so from Cork to Macroom.  

I once talked to a taxi driver in Cork city about the legendary festival.  It was the equivalent of West Cork's Woodstock or Knebworth or Glastonbury.  Rather like when U2 (I have seen them!) played Cork city and fifty people attended the concert and yet the world and the wife claim they happened to be at that certain concert.  The same can be said about when Nirvana played Cork.

I was never fortunate enough to see the great man play but I have seen his former group Band of Friends play at A New Day Festival in Kent in 2019.  

Here's one of my favourite Rory tracks.  Enjoy.

Wednesday 22 February 2023

We Get Coinins.

 We bought some new four legged friends on Sunday.  Coinin which means rabbit in Irish to be precise.

Settling in.  No they are not House Rabbits we just put them in the pen while we sorted their hare (air) bnb accommodation for the night. 

I am on the look out for Dandelion leaves at the moment.  I leave Dandelions flowers because there is not a lot of pollen about for the bees at the moment.

My neighbour leaves us a bag of vegetables peelings on their garden wall every few days and texts us when they are ready for collection.  I have been giving them to the pigs but now the rabbits are the recipients.

They are making 45 Euros a piece in the pet shop/superstores.  When I was young you could buy them for a few quid.  

Hopefully they will make us a few quid/Euros when they produce their big eared offspring.

Some people keep rabbits for meat but we are keeping them for breeding and for pets.

Rabbit anecdote:

I once worked on a building site converting an old hospital into luxury apartments and this lad I worked with told me he lived next to a posh housing estate.  He would sell a young rabbit to some posh kid and say:  " I will swap you your rabbit for a baby one when it gets big".  Mrs posh mum would pay to fatten his rabbits for free!

Any one else keep rabbits or thinking of getting some?  

Tuesday 21 February 2023

Clearing A Veg Plot With My Homemade Azada.

 The homemade Azada and myself have been busy the last few days.  

I cleared a overgrown rockery the other day and  I cleared the weeds on a veg plot, emptied compost heaps and spread it all over the veg plot and dug it over.

The owners had taken my advice and covered part of the plot with builders plastic.  Plastic for once is useful for suppressing pernicious weeds and grass and blocking out the light to prevent weed seed germination and it also warms the soil.

They have the nicest and most friable soil I have ever worked with.  They have never used chemicals on their plot and I won't/don't either. They just added poultry manure and garden waste to the compost bins and spread them over the soil surface.  

A cheeky Robin rooted for worms and no doubt the soil loves the anaerobic bacteria and good soil additives.  I am sure Robins were gardeners in another life.

"I was happy to get another booking so soon after Christmas."  That's a Billy Pearce joke.

Here's a photo of my work for your perusal.

Even a veg plot with nothing in it looks attractive when it's dug over and Robin friendly.

Have you made money with one of your homemade tools?  

Any one want a cheap gardener?  Digging and weeding and planting a speciality.  Jokes come for free.

Sunday 19 February 2023

Barley The Gloucester Old Spot And Her New Arrivals.

 These beautiful piglets were born about 2 in the morning on Friday.  

Barley was bought in pig a couple of weeks ago.  

We put her in a room of her own (stable) and she farrowed away on her own no problem.  They are lying on a straw bed and they have an electric heat lamp hung over them to keep warm.  Can I send the electricity bill to Barley the Sow?

It's great to see new life being born on the smallholding. 

Any one else had any recent new livestock arrivals?

Friday 17 February 2023

We Get An Electric Pulper For The Smallholding..


Number one son came home with a secondhand  electric pulper the other week.  It's brilliant and shreds Fodder Beet for the pigs 🐖 in no time at all.

I found a video of one on You Tube for your perusal:

I have an handle hand powered pulper in the past and even cut up fodder beet with a spade and filled a bucket. I even sowed a field of it once and we harvested it by hand.  I hope it doesn't cost our eccentricity (leccy) too much.

Here's an Irish rural tale  for you:

Ru sitting comfortably? Good.  Well I will begin:😊

Years ago in Ireland Bachelors would go to dancers to meet Spinsters for prospective wives.  

The one thing that concerned them the most was whether they had all their fingers.  Back in the day it was common for a milkmaid to lose her finger or the top of one anyway in the Furze (Gorse) machine that they use for feed for the cart horses.

The Bachelor would not choose a Spinster with a missing finger because she would not be able to hand milk the cow!  

Wednesday 15 February 2023

M Is For Marillion.

 Script For A Jesters Tear and Misplaced Childhood are probably my favourite two Marillion records.   I probably know every word of Script.., when I attempt to sing along with it. "Overdosed on sentiment and pride...'

Marillion were formed in Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire and Fish was their front man, vocalist and lyricist.  He's a giant of a man with the imagination and sensitivity of a poet. He's also rather obsessed with growing things like a certain blog writer I know.  "Eh Dave?"

I saw them at Milton Keynes Bowl in 1986.  They headed the festival with Jethro Tull, Magnum, Mamas Boys and Gary Moore were on the undercard.  It was a great day and it's etched into my favourite concert moments.

Fish left Marillion and I never really took much interest in them until I saw them with Steve Hogarth in Loreley in Germany in 2017 at The Night Of The Prog Festival.  I saw Fish again in 2019 at A New Day Festival in Faversham near Canterbury in Kent.  

Last year I saw Steve Hogarth perform with the Trevor Horn band at Cropredy.  He sang and played a keyboard  with an incredible version of "Life On Mars" by David Bowie.  It's on You Tube.  Go on have a look.  Steve Hogarth Cropredy 2022.  Try typing that in.

Here's two of my favourite Marillion tracks from Misplaced Childhood.  Enjoy.

Tuesday 14 February 2023

Homemade Azada.

 I was looking at my gardening tools yesterday and found the homemade Azada number one son made me a few years ago.  I have posted about this Azada before but I am sure there are many readers who haven't  seen it.

It's made of steel and he made it in a couple of hours out of scrap metal.  Like my bought Azada it's incredibly efficient in clearing weeds and grass and only takes thin slices unlike shovels.

Best of all it's very easy on one's back!  

The Azada is often seen in warm countries like Spain and I have seen council workers weeding with short handled ones in Portugal.  They reminded me of onion hoes but with slightly longer handles.

Anyone else have any homemade gardening tools?  It's great being a tightwad gardener and being resourceful in your surroundings.

Sunday 12 February 2023

Not Freebird!

 L is for Lynyrd Skynyrd.  Continuing with some of my favourite Rock bands...

One band that is still touring and I would love to see would be Skynyrd.  Last year I saw Skinny Molly in Faversham in Kent at A New Day Festival.  They played an excellent cover of 'Free Bird.'

Lynyrd Skynyrd play a Southern Boogie Jazz influenced type of Rock and Roll.  Very much like the influences that Progressive Rock bands that I like are inspired by.

Below is a song that I can relate to very much.  Hope you like it? 

Simple Man was written in 1973 by Ronnie Van Zant and he put chords to what his grandmother and mother's tales that they told.  It's about believing in God, not being materialistic and finding love and enjoying the simple things that are so special.  

Being a simple man is a good thing.  I don't really like the Marxist term working class I prefer Simple Man or Emerson Lake and Palmers term: Fanfare For The Common Man.  Yes common man.  

Writing and reading and commenting  on blogs, writing, keeping livestock, hiking, camping, listening to Prog Rock music, going to Rock festivals, growing vegetables and propagating shrubs, hedging and perennials, gardening, enjoying real ales and great homemade food ... That's me a simple man.  

Very tragically some of the band including Ronnie died in a plane crash and his Freebird lyrics:"If I leave this town tomorrow.  Will you still remember me?"  Are such poignant and meaningful and heart felt lyrics.

I read that the above song is often sang at funeral services.  It's very philosophical and I like it very much.  

Next week my musical choice begins with M.  They are named after a JRR Tolkein book? 

Want another clue? Their original lead singer and lyricist nay poet is named after a creature that lives under the sea or a river.

He also likes gardening and he is Scottish.  Answers on a postcard or leave a comment.  Please!

Friday 10 February 2023

An Instant Hedge In Twenty Minutes!

 It's a good time now to plant hedges.  I planted one of my homegrown Griselina hedges this morning.  It's about thirty feet long and cost me absolutely nothing to grow.  

Griselina is also called New Zealand Privet and Kapuka.  It's very easy to grow from cuttings.

You can grow it in containers full of water to get them to root or you can take cuttings in around September.  Apply rooting powder and stick them in the ground.  The warm late summer rains will water them and you will have your own hedge next spring.  They grow about a foot a year so if you leave them in the plot for two years you will have a very strong hedge.

Anyone else grow their own hedges? You could even lift them and sell them in the local newspaper or at a carboot sale.  Gardening need not be expensive if you propagate your own plants.

Thursday 9 February 2023

Perennials Planting In My Potager.


I started planted some of my homegrown perennials in the veg plot this week.  I am trying to make it look attractive but also functional and productive 

I planted Bergenias (Elephants Ears) or " Pig Squeak".  They make a squeaking sound if you rub their leaves 

Originally from China and Siberia they are tough and the salty rains living in the countryside next to the sea doesn't  seem to bother them.

That great English plants woman Gertrude Jekyll used to plant them to form edges in her herbaceous perennials gardens.  I am more of a patchwork quilt/cottage garden type of gardener.  Where plants embroider themselves in the vista or pallete that is my garden picture and the soil is the canvas.

I also transplanted an hydrangea shrub.  They love the acidic and peaty Irish soils rather like the Azaleas and Rhododendrons.

Any road.  Sorry for another garden related post.  But I think I have got my plant obsession back.

Do you plant flowers and perennials in your veg plot?

Apparently the word Potager comes from the French word Potage which I believe is soup.  So in a Potager you will find all the soup vegetables ingredients that you need.  You will also find some perennials in mine!

Tuesday 7 February 2023

No Compost But Plenty Of Easter Eggs.


You know it's February because the Easter eggs are on the supermarket shelves already.

Easter is April the 9th this year.  So it's quite a way off yet.

I went looking for some potting compost.  It's not brilliant but it would suffice to get some seeds going and top up some plant pots.  They didn't have any yet but at least I managed to purchase some Leeks seeds for seventy nine Cents.

It looks like I will have to go to my local builders providers and see if they have their usual 3 bales of potting compost for the price of two.  

I wish I could make my own seed and potting compost like a John Innes number 3.  Any one make their own compost?  Most cheap composts are made from bark and peat and don't contain the vital nutrients that plants and newly emerged seedlings need to grow.


Sunday 5 February 2023

My Version Of The Terraced House Allotment.

 Yes another veg plot post.   

I often says on here that you do not need to own a smallholding or rent an allotment.  You can grow vegetables even if you live in a terraced house with a paved backyard.  

I once lived in an upstairs flat and grew potatoes in a plant pot in the window.  Well I suppose it's better than growing 'whacky bacca' in the window?

That's my Azada hoe that River asked me about.  They are the best thing since sliced bread for clearing an overgrown allotment.  They are very easy on the back.  Chillington Tools make them.  They're brilliant.  Apparently Azada is Spanish for Hoe.  You can see videos of them in action on good old You Tube.
A stronger sieve.  The side off a car trailer.
My version of a terraced house backyard/allotment.  Old baths filled with top soil (sieved) and half filled with branches, (HugelKultur) sticks, stones (drainage) and to fill up half the bulk.  The weeds will act like a green manure and feed the vegetables.   You can also see old fish boxes full of sieved soil and there's even a drum out of an old washing machine filled with soil.  You can also use fym if it's  well rotted.  Mine is too fresh at present.  It just shows that you don't  need to have an allotment or garden to grow vegetables.  All you need is some effort and some containers.
I planted a plastic module with 'Snowball' onions yesterday.  They will have lovely white root socks when I plant them out in a few weeks.  They are living in  my polytunnel at the moment.  It's much better than just pushing them in the wet and cold earth.
Old back tyre from my Ford 3000 tractor.  It makes a great planter.  I dropped some fym on the tyre the other day and forgot  to brush it off.
My Bergenias in flower.  I have lots of perennial for sale or barter if you want any for your garden/allotment?  I plan to try to sell them at a  carboot  sale very soon.  I also plan on planting them on my vegetable plot around the edges to make it look pleasing to the eye and attract the bees.

Friday 3 February 2023

Homemade Soil Sieve And Filling The Potato Growing Bags For Free.

Yet another vegetable garden post.

Home made soil sieve.  They say necessity is the Mother of Invention don't they?  Just an old piece of discarded fine mesh laid over the top of the wheelbarrow. I must get number one son to make me a proper one with a wooden frame.   Mine did the job though and I have 6 potato bags filled with eight inches of soil and waiting for their seed potatoes to be planted in the polytunnel. 

Well we had an old overgrown pile of fym and number one son gave it a shake with a digger and left me with a pile of stones, weeds and very well composted dung that  I thought would be perfecto for filling big pots/baths/fish boxes,,,, and my potato growing bags.

After all I have watched enough archaeology programmes like Time Team "anyone for a badger pasty and a bottle of Scrumpy?" 

Oh and there is the one's with Alice Roberts in it,  Is  it Britains Biggest Dig or something?   I know how to sieve stuff and make lovely friable soil.  Alice is like me she likes Heavy Rock music, likes digging and sups fine ales.  Well I do when I go to Blighty.  Alice is also a lot more clever than myself.  Who isn't?

Lovely friable composted soil.

 Not a work of art: The Gardener lost his gloves but finds his yellow wellies!" I took off my gloves to take the photo.  

I have started filling those potato growing bags which I bought at a carboot sale last year, remember?  Eight inches of lovely friable compost.  Must go to my German garden centre and beer providers and supermarket and look for some seed potatoes to grow in the polytunnel with the torn plastic cover.   

Have you planted any 'indoor' spudatoes yet?   Another vegetable gardening post soon.  

Joke: Did you hear about the Greenkeeper who use to pour whisky on his golf greens so his grass came up half cut!🤔

Wednesday 1 February 2023

Mission Accomplished On The Veg Plot.

I've been a busy bee on ye olde veg plot this week.  I have done my digging/piking and weeding and moving concrete pig slats and paving slabs to make paths and divide the plot.  The big bit near the house will be our new potatoes 🥔 patch.
Yours truly with a trug full of 'twitch' and other pernicious weeds.  The tools of my trade are my spade, 4 prong pike and my Azada is having a lie down.  I know how it feels.  Have you got an Azada?

Anyone want their  veg plot dug over and weeded?  I'm not expensive and I only swear every ten minutes.  

I suppose I should cover it up with a tarpaulin or plastic sheet until planting time? I have plans of collecting bags of seaweed and planting my perennials around the edges to prevent soil falling on to the paths and make it into our very own English/Irish Potager with pretty flowers and attract the 🐝 to pollinate the plants and vegetables.


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...