Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Moving towards Autumn.

There definitely seems to be a touch of Autumn around.  A lot of trees are already changing colour, Elderberries are turning black , Hawthorne berries are bright red and rosehips are full of colour. It also seems to be a very good year for blackberries, they appear to be plumper than other years. Vegetable wise it has been a very good year,
the second lot of garden peas are nearly ready for picking, the runners keep coming
 and the Autumn Calabrese is also ready. Leeks, purple sprouting broccoli and Curly kale are all looking good. We also have a great crop of  Kohl Rabi, this is the first time we have grown them , we are not too sure what to do with them, something Google will help me with.
The countryside looks lovely with lots of late summer flowers,
banks of heathers and scabious humming with bees.

We also found Sneezewort growing alongside Lough Conn, in Co. Mayo.
Tomatoes keep coming.
The tomatoes keep coming, another twelve pounds have been picked and de-hydrated, this second lot does seem to have a little more flavour. Next year we will make sure that we only grow the tried and tested Sun Gold.
The garden flowers keep on coming, it's nice to have so many and to give
a bunch of freshly picked flowers to a friend.
Irish grapes,
And a gift from another friend, freshly picked grapes, they were delicious.
When we re- did the rockery we also made a trip to an aquatic garden centre, the pond needed a couple of water lilies and a few marginal plants, one of these plants was a beautiful late flowering water Iris,
I love the deep colour of this one.
 Our early flowering ones are yellow, common flag Iris, and a sky blue one, they both flower early in the season, so it's great to get a late flowering one.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Wet and Warm.

We seem to have caught the tail end of  the latest hurricane, very little wind but quite wet, Met Eireann had given dire warnings, we were all going to suffer flooding, sandbags should be at the ready, etc.etc. it's great to read so negative  forecasts, when it doesn't happen everyone feels good.
We had a lovely trip to the West Mayo coast last week, it was an area that we didn't know, we were headed to Belmullet but never made it. The sat. nav. missed the turning we needed completely and we ended up north of Newport at a place called Malranny.
It is beautiful and very different from the Sligo coast, the bay is surrounded by mountains, the lime stone slab is a lovely purple. It was a great day out even if it wasn't our intended destination.
The tomatoes are now ripening very quickly, the OH. has picked just over ten pounds today,
Sliced, ready for dehydration.
these have been sliced, lightly salted to remove some of the water content and are now draining, next we will  chop some basil, mix it with a little sugar and sprinkle  on the tomatoes slices then place them on the shelves of the dehydrator, once dried the slices will be dipped in wine vinegar ( needed to lessen the chance of botulism), drained and then packed into jars and covered with olive oil. Apparently tomatoes done this way are good for sauces and great in a cheese sandwich. Time will tell.
Despite the weather now turning wet we have at last got lots of butterflies and bumble bees, where they were earlier in the year is anyone's guess.
First of this years birds. 5.8oz oven ready.
We have harvested the first bird of this years table birds, a couple of weeks earlier than normal but we were getting fed up of lamb every  weekend, we have run out of pork and there wont be any available until Oct or Nov. We are also waiting for our normal producer of beef to have a beast ready for slaughter, so Sunday dinners are down to lamb or chicken for a while. This first bird weighed in at five and a half pounds oven ready.
Runner beans are still coming thick and fast and the next lot of garden peas are now flowering. For once we don't have a glut of courgettes, we have only two plants this year and we are keeping pace with them, so far, none have made it to marrow size.
Love the colour of the gladioli.
The flower gardens are full of colour, and we have decided to rearrange things a bit.
The golden rod is over six feet high and is taking over the bed.
Some plants have multiplied and have taken over the bed,
The agapanthus is being swamped.
and some are so tall that other plants don't stand a chance.
Crocosmia Emily Mckenzie.
So  new compost bins have been made and the old compost area will now become yet another flower bed.
This new bed is to house things either too tall or too dominant. The bulb catalogues are now out and my order placed. I will not look at any bulbs on sale in supermarkets, we don't have room. If I keep telling myself that we might make some head way controlling the flower gardens. The lilies have been wonderful this year and they all have a wonderful perfume.
I'm still doing the pottery course, and although I like the shape of this last piece, I'm not too keen on the colours

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ugly Tomatoes.

For the last few years we have always planted Sun Gold tomatoes, in my view one of the prettiest tomato and one of the best flavoured ones, however, somehow things went wrong this year. A friend gave us two trays of tomato seedlings. She had far too many for her and two trays were too much for us, so only one tray was planted, we also failed to ask her what they were. None of our beloved Sun Golds were planted. Well, these unknown tomatoes appear to be beef tomatoes, I could be wrong on this as it's not a type I would plant, it's good to look a gift horse in the mouth.
not only do they take the prize for being the ugliest thing we have grown I also don't like the flavour, not much tomato, rather acid and when fried they go to a creamy consistency. We had plans for lots of sun dried tomatoes this year now that we have the dehydrator, I'm just not too sure how these ugly toms will work out. I guess time will tell. Moral to this tale, sometimes
The other mistake this year is our French Beans which have turned out to be Runner Beans, we ordered seeds form a new company this year, and the beans certainly looked like French Beans, they were duly pre-germinated before planting into the tunnel, I was a little surprised how long they were taking to form beans as French Beans are quite quick, but they are most definitely Runner Beans, so we have two lots of Runners, one in the tunnel and the ones in the garden, we have never enjoyed frozen Runners and our experiment with salting them a few years ago was not that successful, and most of our friends all grow their own, so we will have a lot of wasted beans this year unless we can come up with an idea how to use them. I wonder if they would de-hydrate and still be worth eating.
What a beauty.
After having written in my last post about the lack of butterflies we arrived home the next day to a mist of newly hatched butterflies, the Buddleia was full of them,
and Red Admirals, they have remained around us all this week, with new ones appearing daily, including Speckled Wood, unfortunately they are too fast to 'photograph. It's reassuring to see them.
All the peaches have now been picked, the older tree gave us fifty eight half pounders, we ate what we could and the rest have been bottled ready for winter deserts. The store cupboard is now full, so it's just as well the fruit season is over apart from the apples and they will be de-hydrated.
Looking towards Strandhill, lots of interesting Orchids in those dunes.
We once again had a trip to the Sligo coast, via the Ox mountains, but this time we took a different route across the mountains
and discovered banks of Harebells,
we know we had seen them in these mountains once before but could not remember where,
I never get bored seeing the coast, there's always so much movement and interesting things to see,
this time I spotted a Cormorant drying it's wings, it was only after I had taken the photo that I realised that there was also a Heron doing the same thing, unfortunately it's not a clear picture of the Heron.
More waves.
We also found a beautiful waterfall, but not on the coast , this one is in Killukin, in Co. Leitrim. I guess I am  attracted to any water source being an Aquarian. I always find it so calming, even if they are big waves.
The Chinese lantern plant which was gift from a friend has done wonderfully this year, it is now well established.
All the new plants around the pond have taken,
Zara our Persian cat loves to walk around the plants smelling the Thymes and Dianthus, she's not interested in the other plants.
 Now all that remains to be done to the rockery is planting spring bulbs, I can't believe that we are already coming up to bulb planting time again, where has this year gone? 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Lack of insects.

Concession to bedding plants, a lovely piece of Bog oak which was crying out for some flowers.
Where have all the insects gone? This year there have been so few around, I've not seen one honey bee, very few bumble bees, only the odd hoverfly, very few moths or butterflies, there have been a few small whites and a few large whites, and earlier on in the year I saw quite a few orange tips, but it is now full summer, where are all the Red Admirals? count to date just one, Peacocks nil,
and just one lone Tortoiseshell, there's even a lack of midges and mosquitos, not that I'm sorry about that, but they are still needed, especially for the Swallows and Swifts. It's not just our garden that's failing to attract them, we were at a friends place last weekend and she  also mentioned the lack of insects. We both plant for the insects and other wild life, and no chemicals of any type are used in the gardens, I can't help but wonder if we are moving towards Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring', if we are 'the world is up the creek without a paddle.'
The pond and rockery is now finished, we went to a small aquatic nursery and bought two water lilies for the pond, one white and one pink, it should look nice next year when the lilies have settled in, and at the moment the rockery is free of mares tail and silver weed.
The fruit on the older peach tree is now ready for picking, the peaches are huge, weighing in at just over eight ounces  each, desert is now peaches and home made yoghurt.
The vegetable garden is producing well and we are spoilt for choice, the only disappointment has been the potatoes with a very reduced yield, possible caused through lack of rain in April when they were planted and May when they should have really got going, there was plenty of leaf and flowers, just very few tubers, we will just have to eat more rice and pasta.
I had thought that we had picked all the redcurrants, however Simon managed to find another four pounds of them
which I turned into eight pots of Redcurrant and Mint jelly, this makes a lovely change from mint sauce or straight redcurrant jelly, apart from bottling the remaining peaches the jelly is the last thing I will be preserving this year.

The flower gardens are looking very colourful, with the Lucifer against the Aconite,

all the Dahlias have done very well this year, last years tubers seem to have doubled in size,
and the perfumed lilies are also in flower.
We took a trip to the coast via the Ox mountains,
all the streams had turned to rivers which were in full spate creating quite a noise.
At the coast we spotted an interesting masonry built archway into a wall, it appears to have been built to give an entrance to the stream, maybe to collect fresh water for drinking or for livestock, as it was so well built it must have had an important purpose.
We also spotted a Cormorant on some rocks, waiting to dive on some unsuspecting fish.
Flower bed just outside the bedroom, lovely to wake up to lots of colour.