This is the journal of my endeavours to grow a range of fruit, veg and flowers from seed, grow organically, and my attempts to create a personal paradise with 1/2 acre of maintained gardens and 1/2 acre wild meadows. Northern Ireland's average daily high temperatures are 18 °C (64 °F) in July and 6 °C (43 °F) in January. Soil type: Clay

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Potatoes, Corn, Courgette (zucchini)

Healthy 'Maris Peer' Potatoes.

I dug up more potatoes this week... I've been growing potatoes three ways this year (container, grow bags and ground). I thought the containers would produce the best results, however.... the WINNER is.... ground grown taters! They look the healthiest and the yield was higher.

Corn, courgette and spring onion.
Last year I grew courgette and corn in the spot I now have the potatoes and leeks. I miss my courgettes ('zucchini') so in Spring I'll be growing courgette again (easy to grow from seed!).

The corn grew great until frost hit them before the cobs were ready to harvest - bye bye corn.

Variety:  'Maris' Peer Seed Potatoes, Homebase, 2 kg bag for £3.49.
Above: Scabby 'Maris Peer' that were grown in an old wheelbarrow. The soil dried out contributing to unsightly scabs. Click on photo to enlarge.

Developing corn cobs... unfortunately never made it to the table as hit by frost.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Pepper Harvest & Edible Flowers

I've been having fun using my home grown peppers (see photos below)! I've had a good supply of peppers in late summer although my plants seem to have now stopped forming new flowers & new peppers. I pinched off a few growing shoots to see if that makes a difference in coming weeks. Next year I plan on growing chillis as I love hot peppers!

Variety: Pepper (California Wonder), Thompson & Morgan Seeds, 30 seeds, £1.50 per pack.

Variety (below): Nasturium Dayglow Mixed, Carters Tested Seeds, 35 seeds, 79 pence per pack.
Lavender coloured Spring Onion petals are quite yummy as are nasturtiums!

Fun with an edible nasturtium (Don't eat the middle pistil and stamen bits).

I planted rocket seeds in small pots on a window sill a few weeks ago. Some baby leaves will be good added to my pasta pictured above!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Autumn Pinks

Today my blog reached 500 hits !!! I'm starting to join some other blog sites and I think this makes a difference! Thanks everyone for your support & inspiration.

It's finally getting a little cooler in Northern Ireland. High over the weekend 11C / 52F and low 6C / 43F. Great gardening weather. I'm beginning to realise I have loads of pink in my garden..."just a grown up girlie!"

Variety: Trailing petunias (annual), pictured with naughty cat from next door.

Variety: Sedum Autumn Joy (perennial).

Variety: Fuchsia Tom Thumb (miniature variety; dies down in Winter and comes up in Spring; flowers late summer).

Meet my neighbour!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Autumn Colour - perennials n shrubs

Loving the Autumn weather in Northern Ireland! Temperature this week: 15-18 C / 61-64 F.

This view of my garden is "a little bit country" just like me!

Variety: Crocosmia (bulb / orange flowers). Flowers: August to Sept. Easy & reliable.

Variety: Calendula (annual / yellow flowers).
Flowers: Aug to first frost. Self seeds.

Variety: Sedum Autumn Joy (perennial / red flower heads). Easy to divide & multiply. Flowers: July to Oct with flowers starting green, turning pink, then red, then burgundy. (Pictured left)

Unidentified??? Not sure what the flowers are pictured with the Sedum Autumn Joy? They are definitely perennial and I love the colour.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Blackberries (thornless)

I have a fear of eating blackberries...

Several months ago I read an article I can't get out of my mind.... a lady was saying she had maggots (I can hardly say the word) in her berries so she soaks them overnight in water and the worms drown and fall to the bottom. I went out to pick blackberries yesterday with this in mind and, while picking, I noticed various flies enjoying my blackberries. So... I seem to now have a blackberry phobia. Picked some anyway and soaked them in water, but nothing, not a worm in site. I still haven't eaten them.

Variety: Thornless Blackberry (type unknown). Bought through mail order catalogue.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Leeks, Spring Onion n Taters

It's Autumn and time to make stew... the cooler weather is the perfect time to make chunky vegetable soup! I love my big pot grown leeks and spring onions; I've been putting off using them as I like to see them growing outside the back door. My wheelbarrow grown potatoes had some scabs but are still edible (just don't look pretty)! I didn't get a very large potato crop this year however I'm still saving quite a bit of money growing veg - even with my modest yields.

Variety: Leek Musselburgh, Carters Tested Seeds, 350 seeds, 70 pence per pack.
Variety: Spring Onion White Lisbon, Carters Tested Seeds, 550 seeds, 79 pence per pack.
VarietyMaris Peer Potatoes, Homebase, 2 kg bag for £3.49.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Primula (English Primrose)

Primulas are great garden plants! I was looking this plant up in a book and I didn't realise there are so many varieties of primulas and many look quite exotic - great eye-catching plants!

I think this Variety is: Primula Vulgaris (English Primrose).

My garden book says its a spring flowering variety however its flowering again in Autumn.

"A-Z of Perennials" by Reader's Digest (a fab book!) - recommended!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Shrubs thru Ivy Tunnel

Photos are a good way to see your garden from a different perspective! I was looking at this photo thinking this area has alot of green but lacks colour. The pink heather provides a little late summer/ autumn colour; the calendula self seed and provide yellow flowers but I definitely need more wow factor! (A bit of a project to work on)
Plants pictured:
Variegated Ivy, Ornamental grass, Calendula annual flowers, Box hedge, Heather (pink), Harry lauder's walking stick, palm trees.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Sweet Pea - how sweet is it?

Sweet Pea... could be sweeter!
It germinates easily enough (70:30 is my seed success ratio) however...
- if I don't keep a watchful eye on it, I suddenly end up with a giant, knotted mess;
- it has to be deadheaded weekly to keep it flowering well.

This heritage variety is very sweet smelling and I love the colour. I have it growing in a pot up a metal trellis.

Variety: Sweet Pea Old Spice Mixed (grandiflora), Hardy Annual, Mr Fothergill's Seeds, 30 seeds, £1.85.

Monday, 13 September 2010


Ever wonder why yours doesn't turn out like the picture???

In Spring I bought a Suttons Seed pack of 5 'cottage garden' style varieties thinking this was going to be good value and a miracle colour cure for the garden. Sown in April/May my cornflower didn't quite reach 3ft and they didn't quite turn out like the picture! (Not sure I'd bother with cornflower again.) (Apparently cornflower petals are edible.)

Pictured left: my plants. Pictured right: seed pack plants.

Variety: Cornflower Tall Double Mix, Suttons Seeds, 5 variety pack, £4.25.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Roses and Snapdragon

I love roses but struggle growing them (black spot). I consider them 'high maintenance' however they're beautiful when well looked after and some of them smell deliciously edible (& they are)! Ever tried rose petal tea?

Extremely fragrant, I think the rose pictured is a Floribunda "Valentine Heart".

My white Snapdragons finally reached 3 feet (36") as the pack said they would (I'm no longer disappointed).
Variety: Antirrhinium 'Royal Bride', Thompson & Morgan, 500 seeds, £1.99 per pack.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Cabbage Golden Acre

I'm wondering if its time to harvest this summer cabbage? I'm ready to make vegetable soup!

The seed pack describes this variety as, "fast growing, early, traditional favourite." This may be one of only two cabbages I manage to get this summer without being devoured by caterpillars. I am definitely a fan of container gardening!

Variety: Cabbage Golden Acre, Homebase, 175 seeds, 39 pence per pack.

Edible Flowers Page - has been updated.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Apple (self-fertilising)

I have 9 apples on my miniature self-fertilising apple tree. This is an all time record for me! In the last two years I had zero apples and before that my all time record was 2. The difference... this year I managed to remove some catapillers in Spring, deter an army of ants and I gave it some feed. So far so good!

I've noticed a growing ant population on my property in Northern Ireland. They are tiny like the ones in Florida and their bite is just as bad!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Onion Red Baron

Let's just say... not much in, not much out.

Bought a pack of onion bulbs half price in late Spring and stuck them out in the ground between other plants.

Some are pictured here just out of the ground... they should have been about 3xs bigger! They reached a whopping 1 to 1.5 inches.
I'll pretend they're minis (shallots) for better flavour!
Variety: Onion Red Baron. 200 grams, 99pence.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Aster & Fennel

I like mixing herbs, veg and flowers...

Variety: Bronze Fennel Herb. Perennial.
The fennel is just outside my back door. I haven't done alot of cooking with fennel. It's supposed to be good with fish, pork or veal. It's also supposed to aid slimmers with digestion of fatty foods (I better start making fennel tea!).

Variety: Aster Ostrich Plume Mix. Half Hardy Annual.
The asters were grown from seed in May/June (2-3 plants pictured in pot). The asters I planted in borders seem to have wilted and look sickly. Don't think I'd bother with asters again. (Aster wearing dog collar). Suttons Seeds, Cottage Garden Collection, 5 variety seeds, £4.25.

Half-hardy Annual means... plants are frost-tender; they germinate, flower and die all in one year.

Edible Flowers Page - has been updated.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Edible Flowers

I've set up a new blog page called 'Edible Flowers'. I'll be adding to it over the months with ideas on how edible flowers can be used.

In Northern Ireland, it's the year of the cupcake craze! Corporate functions are serving tea/coffee and cupcakes. Even weddings are going down the cupcake route.

I don't think the flowers on this cupcake are edible? However they look great. (Wouldn't fancy bitting into one...)

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Clashy or sassy

Pink and red... clash or sass?
Crocosmia bulbs (insert below) are good value as they multiply every year and produce loads of flowers. Pictured with a traditional  rose shrub planted by previous owners (not sure of variety). They both put on a good show every summer. 

Variety: Crocosmia Lucifer. Height: 100cm (3ft). Spread: 60cm. Time to divide plants: March to May. Flowering period: August to Sept.

The tree at the far right corner of the photo above is a dwarf tree called - Harry Lauder's Walking Stick. Its leaves are crinkled in summer (pictured above). Its best feature is in winter; it loses its leaves and has catkins (left winter insert).

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


Perennial Phlox - A friend came to my garden one day and asked, "Is that a weed?" I said no, but I actually wasn't sure... A work colleague had given me a carload of perennial plants one Autumn from her garden. I was delighted, brought them home & planted them in 'holding' areas until I could figure out what they were. The phlox is one of the plants.                      
I love this type of phlox! Its tall, pretty, pink, scented, makes good cut flowers, and it's no fuss! I'll be dividing it in Spring to make more.            
Time to divide plants: March to April.         
Flowering period: July to October. Height: 120cm (approx 4 ft).