AUTUMN JOBS IN THE GARDEN

Today was tidy up day in the garden, among other things. I finished planting out the salad leaves, and beetroot. Then I sowed, also in the cold frame, curled parsley, and some winter lettuce, seeds that I had over from last year, we shall see what comes up. I followed this with tidying the garden, putting away a lot of summer things into the potting shed, also took measurements as need to get a light tar paper to attach to some of the outside of the shed. It is one of the jobs that I have had on the list for over a year but did not get around to. I finished outside with putting some stray pots of herbs like basil into the cold frame to overwinter. The table and chairs which we only used once or twice during the bad summer remain on the patio for the moment, not that I expect to use them to eat outside, but because there is a container of sweet peas on top and some other plants.
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I am reading this brilliant memoir by Joy Larkcom, it’s a large work, so interesting.  She fills the pages with so much information about the history of vegetable growing in Europe.  She also talks about the year she and her young family spent travelling around Europe in the seventies, exploring what vegetables were being grown and used and writing about this, also collecting seeds and much more.  I have now nearly read half of the book and am still enthralled and learning some bits.  It is also interesting to see how the author discovered growing organically.  At the moment, every night I go to sleep with my head full of these stories, it is a great ‘down to earth’ sort of thing to read after the long discussions with my partner about the current state of the world.

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Soup being cooked, vegetables copped and heaped up with dandelion, nettles, garlic, cumin and other herbs and spices.  Next the resulting goodness, very tasty, this is food I really like.

DSCF9958   A calm moment after work outside.  The poppies have almost all finished flowering and the seed heads are very decorative inside the house.

YOUNG ROBIN AND PLANTING OUT FOR WINTER

For some weeks now we have a new friend, and she is becoming more and more familiar with us, coming inside and exploring, hovering up any crumbs under the table. When I am in the garden she comes very close. Nice to see wildlife in the garden, it’s such a joy.

This morning it was already 20C in the sun and the day has not disappointed, if we get an Indian summer this will be very much appreciated by both humans and plants!

In between some showers during the afternoon I found some energy to plant out 10 salad plants for the winter months, and some rocket also. Hopefully the slugs will only take one or two. The garden is very full up with all sorts of vegetables and it is a pleasure to see it all grow so well. Ireland is never sort of rain water and even while we get much less sunshine than everywhere else, there is still good enough growth. The winters are mild also. Several vegetables, herbs or flowers will give a second crop during the long growing season. For example, my lemon balm, nettles, dandelions and comfrey plants are on to there second show of lush leaves. Flowering broccoli also is giving a second show, and the marigolds are flowering fully again too. I put lots of my dried leaves into jars today and labelled them with name and date. Used up last years dried nettle in the soup too today.

It is reassuring to see the profuse harvest of all sorts of foods coming in from such a small garden.
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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.
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Round courgette doing well first one after many flowers rotted from the rain.

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

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

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

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Sprouts and leeks for the winter months doing well.

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

DRYING – STORING – SOWING… FOR WINTER STORAGE AND GROWTH

It is this time of summer again when thoughts turn to harvest, saving seeds, drying herbs, sowing winter vegetables, and pruning some of the soft fruits. It is also time to make a note of what to, and what not to do next year, and where to grow what. Every season I learn more and so the garden is ever changing as I try to make it all better and more productive for us and also for the rest of nature, so incorporating plants, flowers, and berries for the birds, the bees and for any other creatures in the ecosystem that this urban garden is.
So the last few days I collected different leaves, among them dandelion (leaf and roots), mint, lemon balm, hawthorn, and nettle. I am working towards having a good store to see us through the winter months, and as these plants contain lots of valuable minerals and vitamins I think that it will be a valuable addition to our soups and stews. Some I will also use as teas.
Last week I sowed some winter vegetables, kale, salad leaves, and beetroot mainly, they are coming up well and some I potted off in order to become stronger so they can go into the soil outside. I will make use of the cold frames this winter. The temperatures drop to around -0C or just below it during the night, and daytime temperatures mainly around +5C so it is an ideal climate to grow winter produce. Leeks do very well here in my garden and I have planted out dozen of them during the past few days.
This morning, being Saturday and time to take a stock of what I have been doing and looking for ideas and information, I went to the library and again got a great selection of books, among them, two that I want to mention, one is about Winter vegetable growing by Linda Gray,  and the other one is a book to relax with at night, it’s another memoir of a gardener, (Just Vegetating by Linda Larcom),  I have read some good memoirs lately and enjoyed.  Great inspiration can be got in books, it is a never ending pleasure.
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Mint, delightful scent!

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Nettle, and lemon balm, great for teas, and or soups, broths etc…         And more seedlings, I am looking forward to winter growth.  Making meticulous plans right now, find it exciting and motivating.  Taking the providing role very seriously, that is, providing or rather enabling mother nature to provide us with lots of lovely foods.  So enjoyable, and good for the soul.

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Garlic, and dandelion leaves, very fond of both.  A huge crop of dandelion leaves this year, due to the rains.

2015 HARVEST

Peas and broad beans, it was not a great harvest this summer and so I will need to change the type I am actually growing, though I think that this year’s bad summer had something to do with it too.