Archives for category: Growing veg
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Ode to Millet and Zirtec…

It is becoming increasingly more difficult to work on blog posts as the 9yr old seems to have become an expert computer user overnight. This also means that any spare energy I have is used up trying to get the 9yr old off of the computer and into the garden — a battle I am surely losing. Other than that, all has been well.


Just like I like it, overgrown and messy

The garden has been looking well despite my inability to make myself weed. It looked especially well around solstice time: big, happy, un-black spotty roses (unsprayed as well); fabulous clouds of purple flowers on the herbs which have really reached their peak; catmint abuzz; giant scabious swaying; astrantia looking regal and glowing as the sun sets.

Two lips

Here’s something from earlier this year.

Earlier in the year the bulbs were all amazing. It’s been so long since I’ve posted that I didn’t even get to share the photos I took of the beautiful tulips and daffodils. They were lovely and the spring was mild, though the warmer weather then took its time in coming and seemed to forget about end of April/beginning of May altogether.


Veg in the tunnel.

I spent a good deal of time earlier this year getting the veg in the tunnel sown and planted out. I made a trip home to America just at the time of year when all of those time-consuming veg chores need to be done. In a way, it was a good thing because it made me focus on the task at hand and I got things done quickly. Happy to say that most things survived the big red lad’s decidedly ungreen fingers.

Tomayto Tomahto

Miss Olivade.

I’m thinking of doing a Wordless Wednesday post this week as I have lots of photos I’d like to post that are nice to look at and don’t require me to blather on about them. Until then, enjoy the sunshine when you can!


An oriental poppy in the Little Garden earlier this summer

You might think that the writer of this blog has been lazing around, doing not much of anything for the last couple of months. Au contraire. I have been desperately trying to catch up on weeding, garden work and general household chores that have fallen by the wayside since I went back to work full-time. Let me tell you, it ain’t easy.

Buddleja & Butterfly

No cabbages this year, so I’m actually enjoying the Lg Cabbage White butterfly on the Buddleja

By all rights I should have completely lost heart by now but I have decided not to give up. I worked too hard on the garden to let it all go back to rough field. There are pockets of loveliness and little crops of veg and fruit that are really keeping my spirits up. You can see some of the nice plants here and I’ve been harvesting loads of tomatoes and courgettes (surprisingly…) and the French beans are just kicking in. I’m just between harvesting my earlier blackcurrants (‘Ben Sarek’) and the later variety (‘Ben Connon’). The blackbirds have eaten all the redcurrants. I’m not too bothered because the freezer is full up anyway and I’m never quite sure what to do with pounds and pounds of redcurrants. So all is not lost.

Helenium 'Moorheim Beauty'

A bit of loveliness that keeps me weeding, Helenium ‘Moorheim Beauty’

The Big Garden has also been a bit neglected by me due to my severe lack of time. I have just done a serious weeding and pruning session of the rose beds but there is a fair bit more to do including edging the rose beds and the big beds, deadheading the standard roses (tedious and never-ending). I also need to cut back the Alchemilla and Geranium that would, without a doubt, take over the entire big perennial bed given half the chance. I need to get at the Alchemilla before it seeds everywhere. I have enough weeds to contend with, never mind having to pull out Lady’s Mantle seedlings (which become frightfully well-rooted little buggers given a month or so of growth).

View of the front of the Big Garden taken from the Big Perennial Border

View of the front of the Big Garden taken from the Big Perennial Border

Speaking of self-seeding, my next blog will be about lovely little plants self-seeding around the garden. You might just be surprised by the things I find around the place that I never planted… Until then, keep on weeding!

White-tailed bumble bee on Echinops

Lots of bees at the Little Garden, here’s a pair of white-tailed bumble bees on Globe Thistle

At last it feels like spring – she is so late this year that the dandelions have all come up at once.  In a normal year (whatever that is) the flowering time of the dandelion seems to be a bit more spread out.  Not this year as you can see from the picture of one of the fields by the Little Garden.

Dandelion City

Thousands of dandelions in the next field over, waiting to blow into the Little Garden

I used to hate seeing dandelions going to seed, being the main (and only) weeder around the place, until I saw a goldfinch munching away at a seedhead.  Now I just sigh as I pass out the hundreds of fluffy heads knowing that I will be pulling the weeds up in a year’s time.  And so it goes.

Tulip 'Ballerina'

Tulip ‘Ballerina’ doing a raindance

It’s the freshness of the season that I enjoy most: raindrops sitting on leaves, buds bursting open, leaves unfurling (why do I hear Julie Andrews singing all of a sudden?).  It restores hope (if you happen to have lost it over the winter). One of my very favourite sights is a big fat Oriental poppy bud pulling up out of the centre of a plant.  The wind here usually tears up the delicate flower once it opens in all its tissue-paper glory, but I enjoy the rough, toughness of the bud stage and take as a bonus the flower itself if it manages to last even a few days.

Oriental poppy bud

Oriental poppy bud is rough & tough, unlike the flower to come

Spring flowers are probably my favourites.  Maybe it’s because everything is looking lush and healthy, nothing has really gone over yet except maybe the daffodils (whose ratty old foliage you can disguise by planting things like Aquilegia around them that are only bulking up and coming into flower when the daffs finish).  I like the old standards: Pulmonaria, Dicentra, Pulsatilla (you may have seen my fondness for ‘Papageno’ in a previous post), cowslips, Doronicum.  I find yellow a difficult colour to work with in the garden because it can be so wrong with other colours at times (I feel the same about pink) – but in springtime this doesn’t bother me a bit.  One of my borders is a sea of yellow at the moment because I have let cowslips seed prodigiously.  I love cowslips and can’t bear to pull them out, though I fear these are starting to choke each other a bit and so I will separate them after flowering and put the extras somewhere else.


A sea of self-seeded cowslips

The vegetable garden like everything else is a bit behind.  I have a good stock of tomato plants growing in the polytunnel along with some trays of lettuce seedlings.  Everything is so late this spring that I’m only just clearing the tunnel out now.  I had let rocket and mustard plants go to flower in hopes of bringing in hoverflies and bees – they need a bit of help this time of year when the weather is wet and flowering is behind schedule. It worked – they did show up. But now that plants are starting to flower outside I can clear out the rocket, etc., before it goes to seed.

Look at all the potential in this little fella, a climbing bean seedling

Look at all the potential in this little fella, a climbing bean seedling

Squashes, pumpkins and all sorts of beans have been sown.  I’m using up old seed this year so I have oversown just in case.  I’m going to throw out all the seed packets of the non-germinators (The Germinator — now that’s a good name for a film!) and start fresh next year.  I have to do this every three years or so, otherwise I just end up with far too many seed packets.  I always buy fresh parsnip seed every year and scallion seed which doesn’t seem to keep a very high germination rate for me after the first year.  And sweet peas as well.

Pulmonaria officianalis

Pulmonaria officianalis

What’s happening at the Big Garden, you ask?  I haven’t been in a few weeks due to bad weather and other commitments.  I had planned to go this morning to do a bit of weeding, but it is lashing rain.  Maybe I’ll get a chance to go later.  I will post an update when I do.  Until then, happy digging from the west of Ireland.  Yours truly, The Germinator