Back To The Garden…

 

 

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Hardening-off the tender shoots © janpaulkelly

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Here! Here! Hartley, Spied through wind-break netting…©janpaulkelly

 

Perspectives shift while pulling weeds.
Pulsing “flashes”, cosmic “sizzles”
Snared in threads of Hubble’s bubbles
Dissipate in late March drizzles…JK

Come May, all of February and March’s effort on the allotment begins to pay dividend, and with the gradual greening-up of drab grey winter beds the mind often loses the run of itself and in so doing often gets ahead of itself, and spontaneously imagines harvest’s bounty.
However, the allotment’s best crop can be in the enjoyment of effort expended in cultivating a simple gardening plan and many a gardener has found that the best harvest is often in reaping the memory of those months-on-end they may have spent lost in the dirt.

The allotment garden is a series of carefully cultivated disasters set midst a few successful lettuces, the odd courgette and, if the weather holds and hares are kept in check, perhaps some tomatoes. But what a joy; to hide yourself in clear and plain sight, whiling away the hours, and fortunate indeed to realize you quite contentedly lost yourself between the herb border and May’s bright flowers, and the whole universe could have cared less!
So perhaps a garden’s greatest gift lies not in its spring or summer show, but in the dirt beneath the gardeners fingernails and in how gardening helps the gardener grow.

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“We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden”
                                                       Joni Mitchell

 

Rocket Science, for gardeners

As of today, most gardeners and allotmenteers across the Emerald Isle shall be crossing fingers, knocking on wood and waiting that much anticipated break in cloud cover in the hope that there may finally be a sunny-side of things to look upon as the month of April 2017 draws to a close…

The Fruit Bushes beginning to Green-up

The Fruit Bushes beginning to Green-up

Winter 2016-2017 arrived quite late and the hope was that March would eventually herald the new growing season in earnest, which, for the most part it did. But then April arrived, and everything it seems has stood still for over three weeks. It has been a very dull, very dry month to date, and where the early days of the month were noticeably cooler than average, the last number of days have actually been unseasonably cold, due in no small part to a polar air mass sweeping down across the country with all the accompanying hail, sleet, and even snow showers on high ground, sub zero night time temperatures and sharp to severe frosts each of the last 5 nights. But the forecasters promise we are to be reacquainted with our more familiar prevailing Atlantic weather fronts from today onwards so, fingers crossed.
Of necessity all activity on the Monster’s new plot duly adjusted to the inclement conditions, and perhaps this weekend shall see us finally plant out all of the cosmos, sunflowers and antirrhinums which we have under cover in our potting shed awaiting improvements on the weather front.

Cosmos & Sunflower awaiting transplantation

Cosmos & Sunflower awaiting transplantation

Most of our activity the last 10 days has involved sowing under cover; chard, spinach, kale and beetroot, and yesterday saw us sow some rocket and lettuce seed in trays and pots. Ideally speaking both perform better if sown direct, but we’ll give them a fighting chance and plant on when necessary in a few weeks time.
Everything seems grey, and stunted, and sluggish, and everyone it seems is waiting on that little tip over into more reasonable spring-like conditions before committing too much to the elements, but, it is the weather; just the weather and as such it is what it is. You learn to work with it or you allow it work against you. Simple as. I mean it’s not rocket science!!!!!

 

Compost, Seed Tray, seed, Water, Label...components of rocket Science

Compost, Seed Tray, seed, Water, Label…components of rocket Science

Wild Rocket Seed...

The basic components of Rocket Science

 

The Piper’s Little-finger…

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Peas, Beans, Berry Bushes & Bottle cloches

Chomh gnótach le luidín an phíobaire!

We’ve been busy; busy as the early spring bee, busy as the nest building starlings and mating hares and busy as a vixen in and out of her earth trying to meet the appetite of her growing pups.
Last week saw us pass the 100th day mark on our new plot, and though the weather has been challenging to say the least, we are finally settled into our new location.
We’ve managed to get some onion and shallot sets into the ground, and we’ve also planted out the Bedfordshire Champions and Ailsa Craig seedlings we had sown in trays in mid February. We sowed some ‘Jumbo’ peas and ‘Sutton’ dwarf broad beans together with some Bunyards Exhibitors we had started off in modules. The gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes we moved during late winter have leafed-up again and the bees (thankfully) have been visiting blooms on both, so, fingers crossed for a berry crop later on, however small.
This week we set two ridges of strawberry plants, one of Elsanta and the other a variety called Symphony, and we also planted some Choco-late mint and some Country Cream oregano.
The Tayberries are flowering reasonably well and the two dwarf apple trees we had to bring with us have also leafed and set bloom; not much bloom mind you but it’s a start and an indicator that they’ve taken well despite the move and relocation.
Our rose bushes are putting out this year’s shoots and some of the thyme and rosemary that have struggled with both the move and poor weather are showing signs of clean green at last.
Our new potting shed arrived, and the table top is currently jam-packed with cosmos and sunflower seedlings awaiting a milder spell for transplantation. Our 3 raised beds are constructed and we shall fill them with soil and compost over the next two weekends.
We have chard and beetroot, courgette and red kale seed to sow this weekend and we will have to re-do our basil, the first sowing having failed miserably, no doubt due to the prolonged cool dull conditions.
All in all we are quite happy with the first100 days on our new location; we’re putting our own unique stamp on the monster’s new plot, and our new plotted neighbours are beginning to discern some semblance of our working schema.
Yes we’ve been busy, busy as the many weathers of March and the blossoms of April, and no doubt we’ll continue to be busy, Chomh gnótach le luidín an phíobaire (as busy as a piper’s little finger)?: no, Ní mheasaim é.

April, come she will…

Early spring at the monster’s NEW corner

April, come she will, and the overgrown plot of land we signed for at the end of December 2016 is beginning to resemble an allotment at last.
There is still much to do on the monster’s New corner, but, at least we have some onion and shallot sets growing away in terra firma. We have also moved the onion seedlings out of our daughter’s polytunnel and set these in the ground and our cosmos are germinated and putting on an inch or so. The dwarf sunflowers have germinated, and all the fruit bushes we moved from our former plot in January have burst bud and the bees are pollinating the early flowers on the Hinnomaki gooseberry bushes; the summer John and April Queen heritage apple trees are about to bloom, and all six of Mrs. Dirt Diggers rose bushes are topping away with this year’s growth, and to cap it all off we have actually harvested some rhubarb form our new plot. We know it’s a little early as, ideally we should have left it a bit longer before picking some stalks as these stools were only transplanted in early January, but, we just had to, and what a sweet treat…the first produce from the monster’s NEW corner.
We’ve set the structures of our raised beds, marked out our pathways and mulched the whole fruiting area with woodland chippings; and last week saw us take delivery of a new shed: a new bolt-hole for the monster.
With peas, broad-beans and some new strawberry plants being set this weekend we’ll be busy as this year’s sowing season gets under way in earnest, and we are glad to say that we are just about on cue.
Although a little cool and grey for much of the last 5 days at least the weather forecast is for somewhat brighter and milder weather than of late, and remembering that tomorrow is Greenfingers Day, sure what more could any gardener or allotmenteer hope for eh!
Buy some seed…… and sow up a pot or a drill on your plot…

time to really get the hands dirty…Greenfingers Day 2017….

The Potting Shed

The Monster’s new bolt-hole… Our New Potting Shed and Raised beds

The 1st produce from the
Monster’s New Corner…April 5th

 

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Greenfingers Day 2017

Greenfingers Day 2017….

Greenfingers Day 2017….

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Greenfingers Day 2017

Don’t Forget People

On Saturday 8th April we once again celebrate gardeners in their gardens, with the 2nd International Greenfingers Day.

A day to sow up a pot, and plant something on your plot, and to gift someone some seed and encourage them to grow their own; a day to celebrate those who are willing to get their hands dirty

A simple little idea we sowed last year,,,

https://monsterinthecorner.com/2016/03/16/international-greenfingers-day/International Greenfingers Day..

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus

Having arrived very late this year, winter has finally (though only temporarily) put paid to progress on our new plot adventure.
After many months resting on the fence of procrastination we finally took a leaf from the Pontius Pilate’s diaries of experience and in mid December, having had our fill of the petty personalities and the petty activities at our former allotment site, we dug up our fruit bushes and rhubarb, emptied our tool lock-up, dismantled our wooden beds and finally washed our hands of the whole sorry saga that unfortunately seems to be part and parcel of life on a lot of council allotment sites.

In December we relocated to a new site 6 miles away, and whilst the very depths of winter may not be the ideal time for such an undertaking, we did, at least, manage to get all out bushes replanted and quite a large area of our new plot dug before the weather curtailed our activity.

To date we have 3 blackcurrant, 3 gooseberry, 2 dwarf heritage apple trees, 1 plum (Opal), 1 peach (Red Haven), Timperley early and Victoria rhubarb stools and also 3 red currant bushes which will go in this weekend. We’ve also relocated 5 of our rose bushes and to fill out the compliment to a rounded 6 we also purchased and planted a new David Austin rose, Young Lycidas.
We’ve also relocated some Bay and Rosemary bushes, and last weekend my partner in grime planted over 80 gladioli bulbs, Lupin seedlings and hardy geraniums which hopefully, will all add to the summer interest in about 5 or 6 months.
Although today, March 1st, is the first day (meteorologically speaking) of spring, the weather is decidedly wintry yet, and the forecast for the rest of this week is more of the same. But, at least we content ourselves with the knowledge that we are on track with our time-frame, and actually managed to dig all of the area in which we plan to sow and grow; it may not be cultivated as yet, but at least it has had a winter turning.
So, while awaiting an improvement in the weather we shall concentrate on pathways, borders and divisions; firming up the perimeter-barrier and set about ordering a shed.
As Father Dougal may have said…

         “Wow Ted! A Shed Ted! You mean an actual allotment shed? Woowwwww Ted”!

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Still looking a bit bare, but dug!

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Timperley Early Rhubarb

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Doris out one door ,Ewan in another, and these casualties for the vase

Happy St David’s Day…

 

The Best Time To Plant A Tree

According to an old Chinese Proverb, the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago.

So, without access to a Wellsian or Rimbau construct, the only way to view any element of future potential was to establish foundation now, and that is what we set about doing this past weekend: on perhaps the most wintry of all the weekends so far this winter we planted some native Irish woodland trees; 500 hundred in total, as part of a national forestry and woodland drive which aimed to plant a million trees in one day, that day being February 11th.

There is no way of knowing precisely how many tree were actually planted nationwide on the day, but, we played some small part in helping set a future landscape…

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Some of the young bare-root trees planted this weekend

Alder, Rowan, Hazel, Birch, Crab apple, Oak, Scot’s pine and Wych Elm.