Sunday, January 24, 2016

Is it Spring?

January is supposed to be the coldest month but it has been for the most part mild, the garden certainly seems to think it is spring,
our first daffodil is out, but no sign of the snowdrops in bloom, they should have been out before the daffodils,
 roses have continued to flower all winter
and we have rhubarb almost ready for picking.

There is quite a lot of colour in the garden however there is no sign of the Camellias blooming, they have buds, but at the same stage as they were last October,
  I hope we don't get a sudden cold snap and everything gets set back which is what happened last year.
We were determined that we would not plant seeds too early this year, however broad beans take a while to get going and will stand well in their modules if the weather takes a turn for the worse, we looked at our seed supply to find we only had a dozen broad bean seeds left so a visit to the garden centre was called for, this was a mistake, one packet of seeds would have been fine, but we ended up spending the best part of fifty euros, a visit to a garden centre is always a mistake, and I didn't even look at plants. I normally order our seeds on line but we didn't need that many replacement seeds this year. We have however got the seed potatoes, four different varieties, plus five packets of vegetable seeds and two free packets of Snowball cauliflower. The broad beans are now being pre-germinated, no point in wasting potting compost. Leaks, Cauliflower and Brussels sprouts will be started next month, not too far away now. It seems a long time since we were planting anything, I think we are suffering from itchy planting fingers. The garden is more or less ready for planting, empty beds were fed with compost and then covered, hopefully the worms will have done the rest. Just a light hoe and the ground should be ready to go.
The heritage carrots that we grew last year have been a big disappointment, they grew well but they lack flavour, they might look pretty on the plate but we like things with good flavour, we wont be growing them again. Garlic and onions are looking good, again we are hopeful of a good crop this year. The grass has continued to grow throughout the winter, and most of the local farmers have kept their cattle out, it really has been so unusually mild.
The incubator has been taken out of mothballs and set with quail eggs, they are due to hatch on Wednesday, the first hatch of the season.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Moving on.

Christmas is at last over, it seems to go on for ever here, maybe because it starts so early
. Last Sunday was the Xmas meal for all us old folk, there were quite a few faces missing this year, I guess that's what happens as you get older.
This is something arranged by the local church and all the old folk are invited, you don't have to be a member of  the church. It is always well organised.
Last of the cake.
We have now finished the last of the Christmas cake, it just lasted into New years day, I wont bother with icing again , although I enjoy doing it neither of us likes it so it's a bit of a waste to just feed it to dogs, not that they complain .
The seed catalogues have started to arrive, it's that time again to start planning and to order the seed potatoes. Unfortunately here we don't get a very good selection of potatoes, they are mostly very dull and floury varieties which the Irish like. You will often see potatoes in the shops described as balls of flour, to me a ball of flour is a dumpling.
The flooding here has been quite bad although we have not been affected even though we live very close to the river,
but some people still have feet of water in their homes.
We went to visit friends last week who live less than a half hours drive,
the drive took over and hour and a half, all the roads that would be our normal route were impassable, even the main N road was flooded.
It will take quite a while for these areas to return to normal.
Very little is getting done in the garden, it's just too wet. but the apple trees have now been pruned and when I can get out there I will do the currant bushes. Simon has also built a fruit cage to cover all the fruit bushes, we lost most of last years gooseberries to the birds last year, hopefully this will stop them. It's around thirty feet long by twelve feet wide. The basket willow has also been cut, now I will have to come up with a use for it.
There are plenty of wild birds around this time of year, we have a bird feeder at the back of the house, it sometimes feels as though we are feeding half of the wild birds in the area,

Blue tit.
A sweet little robin
A pair of Chaffinch.
they eat a lot, they are so entertaining, both to us and to the cats who spend hours watching them trough the window, yet when they are out they take little notice of them which is good. I have even spotted a wren but unfortunately was unable to get a photo of it.
Our lemon tree is growing well, we have had five fruits from it this year
and there is still one on the tree, I have spotted two good sized green lemons hiding away
as well as several very small ones. there is also quite a lot of blossom, hopefully we will be eating our own lemons this coming year.
The winter rood veg are still doing well, we have left the carrots in the ground, likewise the parsnips swede and turnips, even the celery is still doing well, our biggest failure has been the leeks, very skinny, still we will aim to do better this year.