With the trees now bear of leaves it seemed a good time to try and become familiar with some of the local tree lichens. Lichens are fungi that live with an algae or cyanobacteria. The later two can make their own food from sunlight, but the fungus feeds on organic dead matter. In biology, the relationship is called a symbiosis. Lichens can live a long time and some are particularly sensitive to air pollution and so are good indicators of a healthy environment.
I am not great on my lichen identification skills, but with my ‘Lichens of Ireland’ guide I hope to improve. This guide deals with just 250 out of the 1,165 lichen species found on the Island. It is estimated that lichens cover 8% of worlds surface, so I really should get to know them better.
Remember I’m learning but I think the one above is Usnea subfloridana. It was growing on some willow branches. I went out again today to get another photograph as this one wasn’t as sharp as I hoped and the weather was brighter, but when I looked at today’s photograph I realised I had taken a different one.
The one above I think is Evernia prunastri is not as feathery as the first one, and it was growing on a birch branch. Often the branches have two or three species growing on close proximity. A good website for Irish lichens is http://www.lichens.ie/
I have been trying to get a good photograph of these lovely crab apples for a couple of weeks now, but there are defeating me. This seems to be the best I can do.
It’s been wet and very dull here which isn’t great photography weather.
But it does seem to suit the fungi which are popping up in amongst the trees in the conifer plantation. Many are appearing in circular groups which are known locally as fairy rings. Or at least I thought it was a local name, but a quick ‘google’ has shown me that this is actually a general term of a species called – Marasmius oreades.
Up to now we’ve had a pretty mild autumn so I think this is why things have done really well in the polytunnel. Growing greens outside, once autumn arrives, I find impossible in our damp climate as the slugs and snails soon demolish tender green leaves. But the polytunnel is great. The drier mirco-climate and small space which can be easily monitored, means few if any slugs. So things thrive. I may have made the mistake of letting last years winter purslane go to seed because it is now all over the polytunnel. Not that that is a problem really. It looks great and is very hardy.
Together with rocket, lambs lettuce and mizuna, it makes a great lunch salad. There are some winter density semi-cos lettuce maturing in both the poly and greenhouse and it will be interesting to see how they progress.
Winter Density Lettuce
Yesterday, I harvested another meals-worth of mange tout peas. Though they are admittedly getting to the end, now that light levels and temperatures have dropped. Still who is going to complain about having fresh peas in November!
Mange tout in November
In the greenhouse, there are still tomatoes going red too and some green ones that I really should find time to make chutney with.
And finally some Nasturtium flowers to warm the heart.
It’s been a wet week with plenty rain and little time to get outside with the camera as report writing is keeping me indoors. So I thought I’d reflect a little on the growing year. There is no doubt it has been the best one for years. Despite late frosts in the spring it has been a long growing season and this has helped a number of winter vegetables including the celeriac.
Some years this may only get to golf ball size for me but this year they are the size of a good fist, plenty to add to a soup or stew.
Leeks too have done well. I learned this year to give them an extra feed too, which has probably helped.
I love this curly kale. Not only does it look great, it tastes good too. Despite a few caterpillar attacks and late sowing it is now doing really well and looking healthy.