Thursday, June 29, 2017

Start of the havests.

A vase of perfume.
The last year seems to have flown by, it seems that it was only a few weeks ago that we were harvesting our fruits and veg for winter storage, but here we are again.
 We have had the first big pick  raspberries, just over three kg,
these have been turned into jam, fourteen pots in total.
The first big pick of strawberries gave us nine pots of strawberry jam.

The onions and garlic has also been harvested. This year we will try dehydrating them, we have invested in a dehydrator which hopefully will be here tomorrow, we decided to go for a dehydrator as it seems as though we will have a bumper crop of apples, some will be eaten fresh but the rest will need storage, we could freeze them,
Three of the chicks at three weeks old.
but we have twenty two table birds which will take up quite a lot of space, plus half a lamb which we bought today, buying this way works out at just four euros a kg. We are also hoping to have half a pig a bit later on from  a friend, although it's  not organic it is at least truly free range.
The flower gardens are still surprising us with new things coming into flower, often things that we have forgotten where we had planted them,

and the window boxes are looking lovely.
Wild orchids seemed to be late this year, maybe because it was such a dry spring but they are making up  for it now, this week we spotted
lesser butterfly orchids
and twayblades.
View from the lane.
One thing we have always been interested in is archaeological sights, Ireland abounds with them, especially in this area. We had been told about a large Ring Fort fairly close by, but despite several attempts to find it over the last two years we had failed. Earlier in the week we went for a drive around the local country lanes, and low and behold we found the elusive Ring Fort. Although I couldn't get to it, it was clearly visible from the lane way and Simon, armed  with the camera traipsed across the field  to get the photos.
It is certainly impressive, with nearly ten foot high walls
 you enter the ring via the tunnel entrance,
there are V steps which give access to the parapet.
There are two chambers which align to the sun at Imbolc and Samhain . The ringfort also has souterrains ,
and there are two piles of stones which are believed to be the remains of houses .

The outer walls are sixteen feet thick and the circle measures around ninety feet across It has been dated to possible three thousand B.C. No doubt we will discover more archaeological sights on our trips out.
Newly erected information board installed by the village pump for our little hamlet. Although it's not completely accurate. We don't have Corn Crakes but we do have Red Squirrel.
Thank you Jo, Coco , Lozabeth and Cherie K for your comments, for some reason Blogger is not allowing me to leave a reply. Yes, we do intend to try Bananas. Simon was in charge of widow boxes this year, I think he did a good job. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Seasons out of kilter.

Everything in the garden seems early this year,
1st of the Raspberries. 8th June.
I'm sure we have never had raspberries ready at the beginning of June, redcurrants and blackcurrants are also ready for picking, the exception seems to be the strawberries which I'm sure were a month later than normal. We've even had our first courgettes. The vegetable garden is producing an abundance, probally due to the very hot weather that we have had. We have now however had some rain, nothing like normal but enough to keep the garden looking good and to keep the slugs happy, the main damage has been to the carrots, Simon has now sown two lots of carrots, only to have them raised to the ground overnight as soon as they have appeared. We have always been reluctant to use nematodes, it has always seemed odd to us to introduce an alien species to the garden, however after speaking to people who have used them we are now conceding defeat and I have ordered them. Last year we lost over 75% of our potatoes due to slugs and ended up having to buy sacks of potatoes from our Organic meat supplier, we know that he also does carrots as he offered us some last year, but nothing can beat a freshly pulled carrot, so a third planting will be done and the soil watered with the nematodes. I have also been given a sack of wool shoddy so this can be used around susceptible plants. Maybe I shouldn't speak too soon but there are two plants which normally suffer slug damage, Lupins and Delphiniums, yet our slugs have left these plants completely alone.
Day old chicks.
We now have this years supply of chickens on the ground, bought three weeks ago as day olds they are now coming up for three weeks old, today was the day to introduce them to the outside world, they have had a great time pecking at grass, they will still have heat at night-time for the next week, then they will get moved to their big house and run where they will stay until they are ready for slaughter.
A selection of David Austin roses.
The roses have been fantastic this year, again probally due to the warmer weather that we have had,

I had forgotten how many different roses we have, most of them being David Austin roses,

so beautifully scented,
 the poppies
and dianthus are looking great,
and we now have Turks cap lilies flowering. We had forgotten where these had been planted so it was a lovely surprise to find them in full bloom, the perfume from them is lovely.
Arum lilies struggling under a clematis.
We had a trip out exploring the local lanes looking for a wild flower that we had not seen for years, Mountain Everlasting, it comes in two colours, pink and white,
Female Mountain everlasting.
the pink ones are the female plants
Male flowers.
and the white are the male plants. After having been told where to see them we went in search , since then we keep seeing them everywhere, maybe I'm not as observant as I used to be.

Last projects.
The pottery classes have slowed down a bit as my teacher does a lot of Viking re-enactments during the summer months so it's working out to one Friday in three at the moment, this week there is a class but unfortunately I will be in hospital  for the day having a Coronary Angiogram which I'm not looking forward to. My last three peices worked out fine, I'm not too sure what my next project will be, it needs a little thought.
Love this Clematis.
A medley of colour.
Albertine, always reliable.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Being outstriped by nature.

Nature takes over if you don't keep it in check, just being in  hospital for  four day and nature took advantage, Simon was coming to see me every day which was a four hour round trip, not leaving much time to do all that he does on a daily basis, never mind additional work, and  last week was spent getting my new regime organised so Simon had far less time to spend in the garden. Thistles and nettles have tried to do a takeover bid, and the soft fruit bushes didn't get  checked for unwanted bugs.
One of the so far unaffected bushes.
We had never had gooseberry sawfly before, but we have it now,
Gooseberry sawfly has been busy.
 three bushes  have been striped completely of their leaves, two had been started on and there are  three that the sawfly hadn't got round to. Simon has hand picked and squashed over two hundred caterpillars' today, and we will try the rhubarb leaf treatment on Wednesday, we can't do it tomorrow as we have to pick up this years table bird chicks. Although we have close friends who are wanting chickens from us again this year we have decided that as I'm now rather out of action we will only be doing them for ourselves. Selling finished birds did pay for our own birds, but there is a fair amount of work involved with growing them and especially processing  them.
The flower garden is looking great now,
the Delphiniums are all in flower, yellow Iris and my favourite,
the black Iris are flowering,
the Hostas are just starting
 and at last the Arum lilies are flowering.
One of the Clematis that we planted four years ago has at last rewarded us with a flower, it only the second time that it has flowered, maybe I have neglected it, I'm never sure about pruning Clematis. One way that we get new plants is by cuttings, most of our Dianthus have been grown from cuttings and several of our roses, old derelict cottages often have lovely old fashioned roses scrambling in their hedges.
This rose was grown from a cutting taken two years ago come August, it's now six foot high and full of flowers.
Roses are very easy to take cuttings from and in under two years you will have them flowering.
Spotted in our lane is a web covering a willow bush, the leaves have been striped and the caterpillars have vacated the web, it would seem that it was the web of the ermine moth, it's not something that we had seen before.
The weather is still warm but the very hot spell has gone, we have also had some much needed rain.