STILL WITHOUT MY LAPTOP

DSCF2705

My laptop crashed some weeks ago, its been in the repair shop ever since. Hoping to get it back soon as miss doing my blog, but I also miss reading all the interesting blogs that I follow.

So much happening in my garden, so much to share. Wishing everyone well.

PURE SUMMER BEAUTY

“A human should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
DSCF8912

DSCF8983

DSCF7970    DSCF8371

DSCF8485

PERMACULTURE – A LEARNING CURVE

Two weeks ago I used this wheelbarrow. Today I found it totally overgrown with cleavers, or goosegrass like we call it. And so it is with quite a few other areas of the garden. During the last week or two growth has been fierce due to weather conditions, it has been very damp with temperatures between 15 and 17 degrees.
Last year I started to try and apply permaculture principles in the garden. My main reason was that I am very interested in foraging, in wild plants. I noticed that these plants, such as dandelions, nettles, or goosegrass would grow really well, while some vegetables were having difficulties. I thought that maybe mixing them all, letting them grow together so to say, would help keep pests at bay. So I read up on permaculture and found that it is all about getting a balance in the garden, or rather getting the ecosystem balanced. Therefore when during the early months of this year the dandelions started to grow well, I used a lot of them in our foods, same with nettles, and even goosegrass. But then I made a mistake, for which I am now paying, I let all these wild plants grow without disturbing them at all.  The goosegrass has totally taken over, I guess I did not use enough of it.  I now realise that I should have kept the upper hand and at least tamed the wild plants a little.
So today I made a start at clearing.
The other motivation to clearing up around the raised beds is the problem with the slugs and snails. Everyday now I gather them, but the supply keeps coming, and my plants are being attacked and eaten faster than I can replant them. This morning I discovered two mature broccoli plants, and one kale plant with leaves full of holes. In desperation I started to cut the hedges around the raised beds, and cleared away any leaves lying around, sure enough I filled a jar with the culprits in no time.
I went and googled permaculture and slug control and learnt a lot. It said in the article that it was no good transporting the slugs to another area, this only un-balances that ecosystem there, so I got to stop doing that. It gave quite a few good ideas to deal with this plague, one I liked is the use of beer, and tomorrow I will purchase a six pack and hope to have a lot of drunken slugs! Not sure which type of beer to use though 🙂 so will get the light beers I think. Some of the other options mentioned in the article, such as frogs, hedgehogs, nematodes, toads, or ducks etc… did not appeal to me, one other option though I liked, it is the encouragement of the carob beetle, a predator of slugs. It explained how to build a nest for these creatures, something I might try out at some stage as I quite like beetles.

One of the principles of permaculture is that one should just observe the garden, see what goes on, and take note.  I do that on a daily basis and have found that the beds that have herbs, such as oregano, lemon balm, rosemary, calendula, sage, and mint growing in them, have much less damage from said slugs and snails.  There is also one type of lettuce that survives every time, so that is the one that I should definitely sow next time round.  The broad beans remain untouched, they are also growing on the bed with garlic.

Its a learning curve, exciting and challenging – it can be very discouraging when so much of what you sow or plant gets eaten, but there has got to be a way around it.  I am sure to be getting on top of this particular problem.

DSCF8934

DSCF8930   DSCF8938

Goosegrass taking over part of the garden!

DSCF8940  DSCF8924

Snail and slug, two culprits which while I love them, I must rebalance the eco system of my garden.

DSCF8922   DSCF8920 - Copy

DSCF8917 - Copy

Some of the damage in the above photos, damage of mature plants!

DSCF8916 - Copy  DSCF8923

The type of lettuce the slugs don’t touch.  And around the beds clearing up is being done seriously now!

AN INTERESTING DIG IN SKIBBEREEN

We recently had an archaeological dig here at Skibbereen in West Cork. The work was undertaken by students of the university of Maryland in US, under the supervision of their professor Stephen Brighton and Drew Webster.
Seems that during the 19th century there was a lot of activity going on at the site of the  Rock, which towers above the town of Skibbereen behind the town hall and the houses of North street and High street. It was called Windmill hill. Prior to the structures hewn out from the rocks being used as houses, six of them, the place was probably used for industry, perhaps related to the windmill. The houses would probably have had grass roofs at first Dr S.Brighton told me, you can see where timbers had been inserted into the rock. It’s a very interesting site. By the time I reached it and made photos, the students were filling in the sights again after six weeks of excavations. Artefacts were found at the site, like potsherds and other bits and pieces. Please visit the Facebook site for more photos and information. And also the WordPress.com site at:
Archaeology of the Irish Diaspora and Modern Ireland

DSCF8845

Where the dig is situated above the town of Skibbereen

DSCF8861     DSCF8862

Seen here are what is thought to be indentations where timber would have been fitted, probably for industrial purposes when these sites were used previous to when people were living here in the 19th century.

DSCF8857   DSCF8851

More indentations seen in the rocks and pieces hewed out.  This site has been filled in again by the students.

DSCF8855    DSCF8859

The type of rock found here, slate or shale.  And students at work.

DSCF8852   DSCF8856

More sites of the houses, there were six in total.  The floors of the houses consisted of flat rock, and a drain would have been hacked out in the ground to allow water running from the rock behind to drain away from the house.  It must have been uncomfortable living quarters.  Who lived there?  It’s quite an exposed area of Skibbereen, but high up and far away from the flooding which sometimes afflicted the town.  Then again as there was a windmill a few meters away from this site, there must have been work available for people.  A lane (Windmill lane) is there still today and one wonders if this lane linked up to other boreens (Irish for lane) in the area.  The houses were inhabited at the time of the Irish potato famine 1847-49, one can only wonder at what tragedy played out here among these rocks as the famine claimed so many lives here.

It’s all very interesting and I will hope to find out more.

PLACE WHERE THE WINDMILL USED TO STAND - ON THE ROCK

This overgrown site is where the windmill would have stood.  It is only a few meters away from the ruins of the houses.

TALES OF SNAILES AND SLUGS

Yesterday I took stock of my garden, there was lots to consider and one of the main points was the fact that so many of my plants are being eaten by the slugs and snail. I did discuss this with a few people around here and they all say, go into the garden at dusk and pick them off your plants one by one. In my desperation to produce a harvest of delicious vegetables I finally took the advice, and last night I went out with my little jar to fetch them. In no time I collected two dozen of the little creatures, and found a good place in a meadow to free them up (I hope they won’t find their back here). Today we had heavy rain all morning but in the afternoon the weather improved and so I went out again to find more of the same, soon I had another dozen caught, they were trying to get out of the jar, climbing all over my hands.  I think they are lovely creatures, and could never kill them. Especially the snails are beautiful. I could not resist taking photos of them either. I think that I have now got it licked, no more slugs or snails eating my tender young shoots or newly planted seedlings. I hope I have anyway, time will tell.
DSCF8812

DSCF8806   DSCF8808

DSCF8827  DSCF8809

DSCF8804

JULY IN THE GARDEN

Though busy with other things today, I took a walk in the garden as I knew that the sweet peas would be flowering. I also bought sprout plants to add to my winter collection, and a melon plant, first one I ever will grow, so another experiment. Despite the cool temperatures, the heavy rain, and the wind, the garden is doing well, granted the slugs are having enormous parties every night, a lot of my young plants regularly disappear as do the flowers of a variety of vegetables and flowering plants. But the sweet peas are surviving, their scent so fragrant, so beautiful.
Today I also re-potted my ginger plant, it’s still growing inside and doing very well but it was getting to large for its pot, so that is taken care of. I think that in order for there to be a good crop of roots the plant needs a lot of space. The Turmeric is also still growing well, as is the bitter gourd – I am watching the little buds and hoping that they will expand soon, today I also noticed that there are a few greenfly on the plant again, so tomorrow I will spray with garlic solution and that should take care of it.

Produce is starting to become more bountiful, though we only had a few strawberries, there are lots of black currants, the peas are swelling and we have eaten a few, beans the same. It’s great when the garden really starts to produce daily vegetables which can be made into delicious dishes, It gives such a good feeling to bring them in from the garden, and so onto the table.

I have a good helper in the garden, his name is Ruben and he is my grandson. Every week he comes to us and spends the afternoon, this time is often spent in the garden and I’m teaching Ruben, he is so very enthusiastic and he is such a joy to have along. He will be five in another week, and he is able to do the sowing, tells me when the grass needs cutting, and much more, we both just love working together.

Seeing it’s now July, it is now or never.  Temperatures of around 15 degrees Celsius are ok, nights though are cooler.  The garden does need more sunshine of which we have not been getting enough.  Rain is plenty, perhaps a little too much.  At least everything is lush and I am still hoping that there will be a good enough harvest of everything.  And I am preparing to have plenty of winter vegetables in the garden, some of which I am now putting down as seeds.

I am finding it all much enjoyable and rewarding.

20150702_172345

DSCF8731   DSCF8733

DSCF8736  DSCF8743

DSCF8720   20150702_150323

DSCF8716   DSCF8708

DSCF8747   DSCF8746

DSCF8607  DSCF8738

MY SISTER JOSEFINE’S TOWN GARDEN

Lier is a small but beautiful town in Belgium. Most of my immediate ancestors come from there though my mum and dad were born in Brasschaat and in Diest respectively. Goyvaerts is not a common name in Belgium, but in Lier you see quite a few signs with this name on it. I feel at home there, it’s a lovely typical Flemish town with a huge car free ‘grote markt’ and a beautiful cathedral, its bells and Carillion chiming out over the typical town houses. A most interesting beguinage dating from the 13th century, a fine library, a large school of music, the Zimmer tower with it’s astronomical clock, on it’s façade it gives the times from all around the world. And many more special cultural and scenic corners.

Anyway, my eldest sister still lives there and she has a small town garden in which I went to take some photos recently. It’s a neat garden, she has one raised bed where she already had a crop of herbs last summer, but trouble with cats is making her hold back this year, so we discussed how to make it so the cats cannot use it as toilet. But there are many beautiful shrubs and flowers in her garden. Since the soil is quite sandy and of course Belgium gets quite hot in the summer, her lavender is doing extremely well, so we did harvest a lovely bunch of these flowers to dry and use later for making sachets to use as presents. There is Turkish sage – Phlomis russeliana, growing in her garden, growing tall and showing bright yellow flowers, much loved by the bees!  Along the verge of one of the flower beds it is full of ripe wild strawberries, very sweet and tasty. An arch made of willow twigs lets you enter the rear end of the garden, a woodbine trails along it and is also in flower. Some beautifully scented roses together with the privet hedge in flower make this garden full of wonderful scents, a garden that anyone would love to sit in on a summers day.

20150617_215549
DSCF7911

DSCF7877  DSCF7866

DSCF7867

DSCF7895  DSCF7861

DSCF7871  DSCF7865

DSCF7964   DSCF7941

Phlomis russeliana (Turkish sage)

DSCF7894

DSCF7854   20150617_215626