AFTER RAIN

”Colours shone with exceptional clarity in the rain. The ground was a deep black, the pine branches a brilliant green, the people wrapped in yellow looking like special spirits that were allowed to wander over the earth on rainy mornings only.” – Haruki Murakami

”Nana always said the rain was nature’s way of adding sparkle to the outdoors.” – Mehmet Murat Ildan
”Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add colour to my sunset sky.” – Rabindranath Tagore
”The purpose of this glorious life is not simply to endure it, but to soar, stumble and flourish as you learn to fall in love with existence. We were born to live dear, not merely exist.” – Becca Lee
”Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.” –  Ashley Smith

A WATERY WINTER SUN

The garden’s trees as seen through a rain drenched window today. And a watery sunshine illuminating the rain and storm clouds in the early evening sky.


The Rainy Day by Rabindranath Tagore

Sullen clouds are gathering fast over the black fringe of the
forest.
O child, do not go out!
The palm trees in a row by the lake are smiting their heads
against the dismal sky; the crows with their dragged wings are
silent on the tamarind branches, and the eastern bank of the river
is haunted by a deepening gloom.
Our cow is lowing loud, ties at the fence.
O child, wait here till I bring her into the stall.
Men have crowded into the flooded field to catch the fishes
as they escape from the overflowing ponds; the rain-water is
running in rills through the narrow lanes like a laughing boy who
has run away from his mother to tease her.
Listen, someone is shouting for the boatman at the ford.
O child, the daylight is dim, and the crossing at the ferry
is closed.
The sky seems to ride fast upon the madly rushing rain; the
water in the river is loud and impatient; women have hastened home
early from the Ganges with their filled pitchers.
The evening lamps must be made ready.
O child, do not go out!
The road to the market is desolate, the lane to the river is
slippery. The wind is roaring and struggling among the bamboo
branches like a wild beast tangled in a net.

A FEELING OF AUTUMN

These last few days have been very autumn-like around here, high winds, rain, cool evenings, but also quite a bit of sunshine in-between, a real feeling of autumn in the air.
While checking over the garden there is a lot to be seen that is going well. I even found a French bean plant in flower that I had all forgotten about, it has been growing in-between the profusely flowering sweet peas. The winter vegetables I planted out weeks ago are growing fast with all the rain they are getting, good to see this happening as I take the supplying of vegetables during the winter very seriously (and it’s fun).

And in-between the leeks there is yet another crop of young dandelions growing, the third crop this year so far!

The courgettes though, have not been doing so well, finally I will be able to harvest one, all the others rotted while still small.  Then there is the rhubarb, this is a young plant, started off during the summer, and now being covered with the leaves of the silver birch tree that is towering above it.  It promises to be a good rhubarb producer for next year, so the making of rhubarb jam will be on the agenda.  During this summer there was very little fruit for sale at the market, probably due to the lack of sunshine there was little fruit around, but having said that, my sister-in-law had kilos upon kilos of strawberries in her garden, so I could be wrong.  I do not have enough space to grow a lot of fruit that is why I like to buy it from organic local producers.  Last year I made a lot of jam, we are still eating from it, this summer I made none.

The few flowering broccoli plants that were left over, once I got a handle on my slug control, did rather well, we ate some already.  Today I found some caterpillars on one of the plants and removed them.  No harm done.

The sprouts are starting to get too large to grow under the netting so I will have to remove that this week.  I will also be harvesting beans and peas to dry for seeds.  Then to mulch the soil with the leaves and branches that are left over as good for the soil.

There is other work to do too before the weather really gets bad (but I am actually expecting an Indian summer soon).  I need to tie down the cold frame before I put the plastic back on, wind can get very high here and I don’t want to lose the frame.  On Saturday market I will buy some more plants to go in there for the winter.  I have plants ready, beetroots, to plant out too in another week or two.

And so the early autumn time is still busy, much is happening, love this time of the year too.  Schools starting next week, my grandchildren are all getting ready for that.  Almost unused garden furniture is about to be stored for another winter.  A few checks have to be made to secure and maintain other things in the garden, and birdhouses have to come out.

And I have a project inside the house to do and am slowly but surely getting ready for that (next real rainy day).  Trying my hand on a bit of DIY.  I like to be really self sufficient, but I have a good adviser in my partner, thank goodness for that.
DSCF9764

Round courgette doing well first one after many flowers rotted from the rain.

DSCF9775    DSCF9780

Discovery of a French bean plant I thought had died, and seeds of the sweet peas appearing

DSCF9769   DSCF9768

Kale and more kale for this winter, and the rhubarb plant covered in birch leaves already falling.

DSCF9778    DSCF9774

Flowering broccoli and little visitors which I caught today, before too much damage was done.

DSCF9771    DSCF9770

Sprouts and leeks for the winter months doing well.

DSCF9772   DSCF9758

More kale growing fast at this stage, and the garden how it is beginning of autumn 2015

LUSH SUMMER GARDEN

Yesterday I nearly had a disaster with my blog, not realising that if you delete photos from your media library, that they also disappear from your actual blog entries, I started to delete very energetically. Luckily I discovered in time that something was not right. I was told to up-grade – my kind partner Ian treated me to the update for the year, I am very happy that I can keep going, and also I only need to replace photos of my first month of blogging which was August 2014, that is easily done. So now I’ve got 13GB instead of 3GB to play around with.

Today it was quite nice out despite the soft rain and heavy clouds. I went and looked at my overgrown garden to check what I needed to do first, so I set to trimming the overgrown hedge along side one of the raised beds that I am also putting in order. This year was my first year in permaculture, not sure if I got it quite right, since I was not able to do much gardening (instructing and keeping an eye on my wild plants that like to grow more vigorously than my vegetables), due to family visits and reunions.
There has been a lot of growth, a lot of the larger herbal plants have been trashed down by rain and wind, so it all looks a bit messy. I am reluctant to cut down the large comfrey as it is full of flowers and bees visit constantly, this is important. The feverfew is beautifully in flower, but the wind has also slashed it down, and the lady’s mantel the same. I cut one hedge and got rid of the branches and leaves on the compost heap. Then I got side tracked into the shed, as anyone can remember I am making a big effort to clean out my two ancient sheds. One was used by my now ex-husband when he still had the roofing business, there is still stuff in there that needs to go. I got quite a bit sorted, and while dealing with an old press riddled with woodworm I came across this spider. I thought that it was a lace web spider but I could be wrong. So took some photos. I then discovered that a lettuce which had gone to seed had black lice on the stem, and found that there were also quite a few ants running over them, maybe they eat them?

Yesterday I also noticed that I am getting flowers on my bitter gourd plants which delights me, one experiment going real well 🙂

This blog entry is a ramble, and that is exactly how I feel about my garden right now, it’s overgrown and so lush and green, it’s amazing, making me feel a little puffed and wondering will I ever get it sorted again, but then it is good the way it is, so much to discover, so full of life. It is all good. It’s a job finding some vegetables among it all though, but slowly things are coming along (those that were not eaten by you know what!)

And that brings me to some new books I got in the library this morning. They both look interesting. The one about the companion planting especially will be useful, the other one is just for inspiration. I find that books always inspire me so much, I let them too, and choose them carefully. We are lucky to have a good library, and of course there is always Amazon, and second hand bookstores around which are lovely to browse through.
DSCF8714

Lush summer growth flattened by wind and rain.

DSCF8602 - Copy     DSCF8609

Black currants, and some of my sweet peas growing among the edible peas.

DSCF8604 - Copy    DSCF8596

Garlic nearly ready to harvest, and the peas which also suffered from the rains but are doing fine.

DSCF8593

Variety of herbs, all fighting for space it seems.

DSCF8726    DSCF8728

So blessed with a good library!

DSCF8625    DSCF8710

One of my precious bitter gourd flowers, and the hypericum flower.

DSCF8698     DSCF8694

The black lice with the ants, and the lace web spider (I think)

REFLECTIONS ON THE SEASONS

Either I do not yet understand or know the seasons in this part of Ireland, something that one needs to know well in order to get a productive vegetable garden, or the climate is changing a lot these days. But then maybe I have not been observant enough about the weather all the years while I was working in the library and interacting with books and people in a large concrete building with underground heating. Growing vegetables does require one to be observant of temperature, rainfall and a whole lot more, in other words understanding the local climate. The fact that my French beans just would not do well and died off is probably because the night temperatures were still too low when I planted them out. So as the months go by I am having to rethink a lot about what I grow and about the timing of my sowing and planting out. Some of my raised beds retain moisture more than others, another fact to take into account.

And so my garden develops and I become wiser through experience, but also through picking up information from others and from books.  I am reading Monty Don’s ‘My Roots’ at the moment, I would say if one never read another gardening book, then it must be this one. A philosophical work interwoven with a lot of great tips, very valuable stuff, more a memoir, a journal through a decade of gardening than a practical guide. I am loving it.

I’m not sure what to think of the climate here lately, last year we had a warm summer that started late but lasted many months. This year, after a mild but wet winter, April was unusually dry and warm, and May was cold and wet with an icy wind coming straight from the Artic. Growth has slowed right down. And now a heat wave is forecasted.

My garden needs a considerable amount of attention at the moment, just when my older sister is here with us for some weeks, and we two are enjoying non-stop chatting, and I am suffering from a cold, and we are nipping over to Belgium for a week later in the month.

But all is good, and all is abundant, and life is rich with experience and fascination.
DSCF7574

The mess my pea plants became after the storm and rains, but I sorted that out yesterday and they are now secured properly.

DSCF7560     DSCF7599

A very wet garden, and a book that I am really enjoying very much indeed.

DSCF7602  DSCF7590

At night the stove is great to have.  And making nettle tincture to use as a hair rinse later on in the year.

RAINDROPS, RAIN, AND MORE RAIN

Well, after a long weekend away from home and garden, we arrived back to find a lot of destruction. Growth that had been Lush before the weekend had been blown about by the high winds and flattened by the rain, and that is still happening as we speak. The much colder temperatures have stopped a lot of the growth for the time being. Today I spent some time tying up beans and peas, a lesson for me to make sure that they are secured a lot better, I thought that the canes would hold them all right, but not so. The Borage was totally flattened, I will cut that down a bit and it will start to grow again no problem.

But the beauty of the rain droplets is amazing, and there is plenty of that at the moment, might as well enjoy it, it gives the leaves especially a whole new ‘look’. I think that Masaru Emoto might have something interesting to say about them.

We are promised a heat wave towards the end of the week, who knows, surely my plants would be happy. I guess we take what comes and be happy that we are blessed with rain regularly, it makes Ireland what it is, green and lush. A thought for the people of California and their fight against drought, it cannot be easy.
DSCF7580

DSCF7573  DSCF7577

DSCF7576

DSCF7583  DSCF7562

DSCF7568    DSCF7563

DSCF7567

 

RAIN, COOL TEMPERATURES, AND TOADSTOOLS GROWING AMONG THE VEGETABLES

Well, we are more than halfway through the month of May, and temperatures have been very cool the last few weeks, a mere 9 to 12 degrees Celsius, with lots of icy wind and rain, so wet has it been that there are toadstools growing among the vegetables. But all the same, flowers are blooming and giving a lovely show, and the beans and pea flowers especially are abundant, so looking forward to a good harvest. I was minding my grandchildren over the weekend, so the last two days I am trying to catch up with jobs in garden and home, in another two weeks my older sister is coming to stay and I am so looking forward to her visit. Together we will be visiting our siblings who live around here, and we cannot wait to see the results of their garden designs and produce. Lots of work is going on between all of us. Growing your own vegetables and herbs is becoming a real ‘family’ thing with us all. (I am second eldest of a family of eleven). Plants will be swopped and stories about the latest experiment in growing too. One of us, my brother who lives in the beautiful Caha mountains in Glengarriff, is living off grid and he and his wife practice permaculture too, they have a lovely place going there. And my three sisters have gardens to be proud of, always improving, improvising, and trying out new ideas and plants.
DSCF7357

DSCF7370

DSCF7362   DSCF7368

DSCF7350

DSCF7361  DSCF7360

THE GLORIOUS MONTH OF MAY

So much is happening all around us in nature this month, insects abound, blossoms and wild flowers are everywhere, and a soft rain that makes everything green and fresh, and brings out the tender young shoots of trees and shrubs, falls with regular intervals on the slightly warmed soil, it is a delightful time.

I’ve seen quite a few Bumblebees, a reassuring sight – hoping for good pollination. Then I came across this large Wasp, my first this spring, I could not resist taking a series of photos. The Wasp itself became irritated when I disturbed it and went standing high on it’s little legs, it’s wings flapping vigorously.

Along the hedgerows Foxgloves are already starting to come into bloom. The meadow flowers like Buttercups, Daisies, Speedwells, Dandelions, and the Cuckoo pints are found in abundance.   The Willow Catkins, the Cherry- and Apple tree blossoms are out in full glory, a wonderful sight to behold. Along the hedgerows are seen the lovely bunches of green flowers, they are called Sun Spurges and they grow in abundance around here, mainly in sheltered hedgerows, and not too high above sea level.
DSCF7173

Above: Cherry blossoms

DSCF7127    DSCF7123

Above:  Cuckoo pints and a Willow catkin

DSCF7096

Above:  some sort of House Fly

DSCF7118  DSCF7113

Above:  The Sun Spurge

DSCF7168

Above Apple blossom

DSCF7099   DSCF7102

Above:  First Wasp of the summer.

 

WINTER GARDEN – SEASONAL WEATHER

DSCF4866

DSCF4868

My garden as seen through the window on this dismal winter’s day!  It’s been raining for days with wind howling around the place.  Not good weather to go and do some work or even to go and assess what has to be done at this time in the garden.

But inside is cosy and warm so no complaints at all.  This is after all typical winter weather around here.  The sun is totally not visible for days on end, a heavy grey sky, dark and wet that is about it.  Birds do venture out in it and the feeders are emptied quite quickly.  I’ve seen more Finches the last few days which is great as their numbers were down from last year.

20141210_160250

Old Man’s Beard (Clematis vitalba) or also known as Travellers Joy growing along the roadsides around the country.  This climber is quite beneficial for the birds, they use the seeds as food, but they also use the fluffy appendages to feather their nests when the time comes.  It’s a winter favourite but it is seen by many as an invasive plant.  Apparently it has got some medicinal properties, I guess like most wild plants.  I like to see it around the place.

DSCF4838

A typical scene out of the window again, but some days ago when it was wind still.  The smoke from the chimney of a cottage in the distance made a long trail and kept hanging over the valley.  Behind this hill in the photo is the Atlantic Ocean as a matter of fact.

DSCF4864

Inside all is cosy and Christmassy.  There is the scent of Cloves, Cinnamon, and Oranges.