So today it is raining and they tell us it will rain pretty much continuously till Monday night!! So a slight tangent for this week’s Six on Saturday. We had the opportunity to visit The Organic Centre, near Rossinver in Co. Leitrim this week, so I am sharing my six from there as opposed to our very wet garden.
The Centre was founded in 1995 by local organic growers, farmers and supporters. It comprises of a 19 acre site and includes gardens, polytunnels, community garden and orchards.
The garden area has raised flower beds against a stonewall containing geraniums, Rosa rugosa, and nice willow structures in the background
2. The polytunnels were jam-packed with very healthy looking vegetables, and totally weed free (not like my own).
3. Companion planting was evident throughout the garden.
4. These poppies were particularly stunning. I have these in my garden too but mine are a much more a pink that red (do you see the bumblebee?)
5. I really liked their orchard which had apples, plums and pear. The orchard was well sheltered and I noticed that they had much more fruit on their trees than I do.
6. And finally I love this fun garden fence.
I would certainly recommend a visit if you are in the area. The centre hopes to begin delivering their varied courses again very soon. More information can be found here.
July is fast coming to an end so I thought it was time for another garden update. It is not proving to be the best of summers. There has been lots (too much) of rain but thankfully temperatures are not as low as last summer, but it is not looking like we will have bumper harvests.
In the greenhouse, tomatoes and cucumbers are producing but not in big quantities so there has not been surplus for pickling. My cucumbers (and also the courgettes and squashes) have all got this strange virus – it looks like mildew, but starts as perfect circles and increases and multiplies till the whole leaf is covered. I keep taking off the affected leaves and so far the plants are surviving. One variety of cucumber (marketmore), shows no sign of the virus so I may concentrate on growing that variety next year.
In the polytunnel, the early broadbeans did well as did the Charlotte potatoes which we are about half way through. I have some beetroot to harvest and also started harvesting these purple kohlrabi. We all prefer them raw to cooked so will probably have the rest with salads. I just planted some more seed in the hope that I can get some to crop in late autumn or over winter for next spring.
Outside the first of the runner beans are appearing ( I put five plants in the poly on a wigwam and they are really not happy, and I don’t know why), and I am hoping for a better crop than last year. The dwarf beans are really suffering, probably because it is not warm enough. I did plant a couple in the greenhouse and it turns out this was a good idea because they are cropping well! Cabbages do seem to enjoy the wet and we’ve been enjoying the first (variety Greyhound), and I am hopeful that we will get a decent crop of red cabbage. Courgettes are small and slow.
We’ve had a few nice summer raspberries but the loganberries are proving very popular with the blackbirds!! We’ve picked over 2kg of blackcurrants and there are still some more. The kids are enjoying blackcurrant cordial and it’s a “bribe” to get them picking some of their own! Blackcurrants are always one of our best croppers.
Well things are busy in the garden this month but at least we are reaping some of the benefits. We’ve been enjoying broccoli from the greenhouse from over wintered plants, which are being gradually cleared out and replaced by cucumbers and tomatoes, and also a few early beans. We’ve also had a few early strawberries, and the first courgette is just coming.
Dwarf french beans
In the polytunnel things are getting a bit overgrown, as the early potatoes need to start coming out. The broadbeans have cropped well and we are enjoying them for dinner. The mange tout seem to have suffered from our recent dry and sunny spell as I think they prefer cooler conditions, so leaves are looking a bit yellow but they are still producing peas.
Outside plums are forming as are some pears and apples – though I am a bit concerned that the pears are already looking a bit scabby.
In the vegetable garden things are a little slow. Cabbages though have benefited from the warm weather as there has been minimum slug damage. Beans and onions are just coming slowly. I am gradually catching up with weeding but they seem to continue to grow!!
It’s been a while since I did a garden update. Spare time these days is spent either in the greenhouse or the polytunnel as outside the ground is still too wet to do much with.
It’s exciting to see things germinating in the greenhouse. Here is just a sample.
Broadbeans for planting out
Salad leaves germinating and in the background some lupins
We are enjoying some salad crops from the greenhouse and the overwintered spinach is also coming on nicely.
Salad crops – endive and rocket
In the polytunnel, the broad beans set last November are flowering and we are enjoying some broccoli sprouts from broccoli that over wintered. Purslane seeds itself all over the tunnel so what we don’t eat, I try digging in as green manure or feed to the chickens. The over-wintered leaf beat is a great addition to stews and stir-frys.
The last couple of days have actually been dry though still excessively dull, with just a few short glimpses of the sun. Still time to get into the garden and do some clearing, well the polytunnel, greenhouse and bee flower garden at least. The vegetable plot is too soggy to even attempt any kind of work.
Still it felt great to clear out the polytunnel. I cut back the broccoli plants but left what I could as they are still producing some small spears. I dug around where last summer I had planted a sweet potato plant that was supposed to be suited to our climate. I found one thumb sized tuber! So not great success there but the cool summer we experienced was probably a large factor. I’ve potted the tuber up in a pot to see what happens.
In the flower garden, I was cutting back the lupins. There is already new growth and I do worry that we’ll get a few nights of sharp frost and they will suffer. But this is what else I found:
Lupin seeds germinating
Lupin seeds germinating
It’s so mild the lupin seeds have actually started to germinate while still in their pods! I took the best of them and potted them up. I don’t know if they will grow – but it’s free plants if they do so who’s complaining. Lupins are also great bee plants and I want to get more bee and butterfly friendly plants into the garden as I can. What’s more if I have too many plants I can always give them away and that is more bee-friendly plants in other peoples gardens too!
Carder bee on Lupin
Honeybee on Lupin
Hopefully I will be seeing more of this in the summer of 2016!
We are still experiencing a mild winter, with plenty rain and hardly any frost. While walking around a rather sodden garden the other evening there appeared to be an unseasonable amount of colour, though admittedly it only occurs in little splashes.
There are good things to eat too. The white sprouting broccoli, is just coming. It is the first year I have tried this as I usually only grow purple sprouting. I suspect that if it was colder it wouldn’t be sprouting yet but it’s a nice addition to Brussel sprouts and red cabbage, and the odd bit of calabrase from the tunnel.
In last week’s post I was bemoaning the lack of success in the vegetable garden and while things were not as productive as I’d like in the polytunnel and greenhouse, in general plants fared better and produced more there.
We’ve had a pretty constant supply of lettuce and greens from the polytunnel. The cool temperatures made it a perfect growing environment for them, and it is only in the last week that we are a bit short of lettuce though still doing well with mustard greens and rocket. There are more lettuce plants on trays waiting to be planted out – endives and winter destiny lettuce.
In the greenhouse the tomatoes have actually done pretty well, and though they weren’t enough cucumbers to pickle there have been plenty to eat fresh each day
Tomatoes – Gardeners delight
Tomatoes – Green zebra
Black tomato (possibly blackberry)
With our beans doing so badly outside I planted some late in the greenhouse and polytunnel. Some are already producing – not many, but a nice bonus.
According to the packet these are supposed to be dwarf beans but they seem happier climbing up some bamboo canes!
In the greenhouse, patience is finally paying off and we’ve been enjoying the first of the cucumbers. There are plenty of green tomatoes (no sign of them going red yet) and some interesting black ones (a friend gave me some seeds earlier in the year – I think they are called black berry).
Tomatoe – black berry
The bees are enjoying the oregano that is flowering. And we are still enjoying some alpine strawberries.
Carder bee on Oregano
I’ve seedlings started for some autumn and winter crops for the polytunnel including lettuce, mangetout and these leaf beat. There are more winter crops to go in, but I have already planted in some calabrese, which I have had mixed results with in previous years. After a poor summer in the vegetable garden I am hoping for a better autumn! Optimism when vegetable gardening in an Irish climate is essential.
This week’s rain has confined me mostly to the greenhouse and polytunnel, both of which needed attention anyhow! Yesterday I cleared out the last of the mangetout plants (the outside ones are now cropping). We’ve been enjoying the Charlotte potatoes, broad-beans and purple kohlrabi all from the tunnel.
In the greenhouse, some of the tomato plants have set their first fruit and there are a couple of tiny cucumbers too, though the plants are still small. The purple dwarf beans have cropped quite well and the courgette plant is looking great. I need to take it out as it’s taking up too much room and I have more plants outside (looking very small and miserable) and one in the polytunnel. As it’s cropping very well I’m going to leave it as long as I can. So for now I’m removing some of the leaves.
Courgette in polytunnel
Today, it had stopped raining so I had a chance to do some weeding in the vegetable plot. I am leaving the strawberry bed (it’s full of weeds), as the damp weather has resulted in lots of slug damage and those the slugs aren’t eating the birds are. My plan for next year is to put the strawberries in pots in the blueberry fruit cage.
Slug eaten strawberry
Today, my son did manage to find a few nice ones. He decided he was going to eat a lunch that he himself picked. This was the result. (He did take my offer of a freshly cooked pancake too!)
My son’s lunch plate
Yes, we have some nice black and red currants ripening. They are one of our most reliable fruits. The green bean like pods are actually the seed pods of some of my brassicas. I leave some plants to get seed for next year but the kids and I find them quite tasty too.
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 on plum blossom
There are bees too and hoverflies, including these little ones, which I still need to identify.
Hoverflies on plum blossom
In the polytunnel, the early potatoes are finally showing through and the broad beans and the mangetout are growing well.
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!
The Juneberry (Amelanchier) is also flowering. The flowers are so delicate. We look forward to the fruit.