Monthly Archives: April 2015

Don’t cast a clout till May is out

After a good few days of beautiful spring sunshine, which we all knew were too good to be true, we are back to cold, wind, rain and hail. But worst of all has been the night frosts, which have left the crab apple blossom looking like this.

Frost damage apple blossom

Frost damage apple blossom

A few blossoms that were not open have escaped, and thankfully some of the apple trees are only just coming into blossom so we may still get some fruit.

Crab apple blossom

Crab apple blossom

One of the plums may have had time to set fruit and I am not sure how the frost will affect those. The greenhouse appears to have given the pear tree some protection as the blossom is still white.

Pear blossom

Pear blossom

Today, I checked the wild cherry trees, which are planted in the far wood, and they too are all brown. The photo below was taken before the worst of the frost when they were still in pretty good condition.

The wild sloes (blackthorn), which grow in many of our local hedgerows, are also in flower  and will also probably be affected by the frost too.

The weather will probably be having an effect on the local wild birds too. Today, I saw both robins and blackbirds busily collecting food, so they are probably feeding young. I spotted this mossy ball on the fence on the track down to the far wood. It’s a wrens nest. And a bullfinch pair have been eating the dandelion seed heads – another great reason for leaving dandelions in your garden. The photo of the bullfinch is from last year.

As the saying of the title suggests weather in Western Europe can be a bit fickle!

 

Advertisements

Why grow Organically?

Firstly Happy Earth Day. Through my job I get to meet kids and was delighted yesterday to have some sing me the Earth Day song, all about us looking after the earth. It warmed my heart.

For me one of the best ways of showing our appreciation of mother nature is to garden organically. For those of us that grow our food organically the last month has yet again proven us to be on the right track. A report issued by the World Health Organisation has linked Glyphosate, the main ingredient of the herbicide Roundup, as a possible carcinogen. Monsanto are trying to get the report retracted. According to Wikipedia ‘Monsanto Company is a publicly traded American multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation’. According to Monsanto’s own website ‘Monsanto is a sustainable agriculture company’. That made me laugh, because in my opinion chemicals and GMO crops are as far from ‘sustainable’ as it could be! Glyphosate earns the company about $6 billion per year to the company.

Pear blossom

Pear blossom

In the 1990’s, Monsanto genetically engineered crops to withstand being sprayed with Roundup. These crops (e.g Soybean and corn) known as “Roundup Ready” became popular with farmers but more recently the weeds have been developing a resistance to the herbicide and so farmers are having to spray more and more. Monsanto are probably rubbing their hands together in glee as it’s more money for their shareholders.

For me there is no such thing as a ‘weed’. Only a plant in the wrong place. I may dig dandelions out of my vegetable plot but they grow in profusion in our lawn and orchard areas,  where they feed bees, hoverflies and butterflies who in turn pollinate our fruit trees and vegetables.

Dandelion

Dandelion

I grow food to feed my family. I would never put chemicals on them, it just doesn’t make sense to me. In fact, I wouldn’t put chemicals anywhere in my garden. We need to live in harmony with nature, learn to work with it and not against it.

Tomato

Tomato

Celeriac

Celeriac

 

Avaaz.org are running a petition (https://secure.avaaz.org/en/monsanto_dont_silence_science_loc_eu/?twvkneb) asking the relevant authorities to take into consideration the studies from the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s report in their current safety assessments, and to ensure all reviews are transparent, based on independent studies, and evaluated by independent researchers without conflicts of interest.

 

 

Joys of the spring garden

There is so much happening in the garden. I just love this time of year. The plum tree is full of blossoms and thankfully also full of pollinators. The most colourful of which was this Red Admiral. It’s a little bit worn, so must be one that managed to get through our winter.

Red Admiral

Red Admiral on plum blossom

There are bees too and hoverflies, including these little ones, which I still need to identify.

Hoverflies on plum blossom

Hoverflies on plum blossom

In the polytunnel, the early potatoes are finally showing through and the broad beans and the mangetout are growing well.

Potatoes

Potatoes

mangetout

mangetout

Broad bean

Broad bean

The chicks are getting big and my husband was busy making a little enclosurer for them that we’ve put into the polytunnel for now. Already yesterday, the smallest chick was seen eating a slug!

Growing chicks

Growing chicks

The Juneberry (Amelanchier) is also flowering. The flowers are so delicate. We look forward to the fruit.

Juneberry

Juneberry

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frogswell Garden

Our friend Celia, at Frogswell Garden, has the most amazing garden. It’s a woodland garden filled with woodland plants and flowers of all shapes and sizes. At this time of year the hellebores and daffodils are at their best. We visited last Friday and here is to just a small sample of what we saw. Celia is a true plants woman and her love and knowledge of gardening is evident just walking through the grounds with her. I should write more but have decided that a picture paints a thousand words, so enjoy!

Lovely Spring Days

We’ve had the most amazing weather for the last few days, lots of warm sunshine. Everything in the garden seems to be rushing on and the jobs are mounting up! The first fruit tree to flower was the plum.

Blossom on the plum tree

Blossom on the plum tree

The pear is not far behind it and I expect the apples will be after those.

Pear tree

Pear tree

The greenhouse is packed with seed trays. And both the greenhouse and polytunnel are providing plenty spring greens. While outside there is lots of purple sprouting broccoli and cauliflowers to enjoy. In the tunnel, broad beans and mangetout peas have been planted out and more planted in pots to be planted outside in the coming weeks.

Polytunnel

Polytunnel

And we’ve been working on the new flower and herb garden. There is still lots to do, though the first plants are in. The miniature daffodils have given a lovely display.  The weed membrane will be covered with small stones which we are still waiting to be delivered but the main hard landscaping is done and the fence is finally all painted.

I just love this time of year. There is so many new things to admire, so much to see and enjoy.

Seven Words

There has been a lot of rain here and no sunshine and hence no photos so I needed some inspiration. I headed for the Daily Post’s writing prompt. The first one didn’t inspire me but the second one did. The writing prompt was: “Seven Wonders.” It is said that Khalil Gibran (a Lebanese artist, poet, and writer, born in 1883) once said that people will never understand one another unless language is reduced to seven words. So I was thinking what my seven words would be. So in no particular order –

1. Wonder – We need to be curious about the world we live in. This is a bee I found in our garden two summers ago now. It’s a leaf cutter bee called Megachile versicolor and it was the first recorded sighting of the bee for County Mayo.

Solitary bee

Solitary bee

2. Nature – If you read my blog you know I love nature in all it’s shapes and forms

Clew bay

Clew bay

3. Freedom – of every kind.

Croagh Patrick

4. Peace – for everyone

Blue Iris

Blue Iris

5. Growth – nothing makes me happier than seeing things grow

Seedlings

6. Happiness – we all need to smile and laugh

Hawthorn Shield Bug - final instar nymph

Hawthorn Shield Bug – final instar nymph

7. Children – a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children (Wendell Berry, 1971)

old house