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

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Veg Update (Turnip, Tomato, Bean, Carrot, etc)

Below: Turnip growing in containers. 
After my initial problems with turnip bolting I'm finally managing to harvest. The pack recommends harvesting at golf ball size which is the one pictured just pulled from the soil. I was a bit worried the bigger ones would taste bitter but I did a raw taste test and they seemed fine... so they're now cooking in a casserole for dinner.

VarietyTurnip 'Purple Top Milan', Mr Fothergill's seeds, £1.49. 

Kale Curly Scarlet; Seed sown indoor 8 April 2012. I'm not too  fond of the texture but since I've very little else to harvest, tonight I'll stir fry curly kale with onion.
Above and below - the tomatoes are doing good. Lots of flowers and some fruits forming. They share the sun room / conservatory with the aubergine plants (and my bamboo table for four) . Varieties: Tomato 'Red Cherry' and  'Gardener's Delight'; seed sown indoor 8 April 2012.
Above: carrots sown in the wheelbarrow are finally growing.
Below: this is what happens when the drainage holes get clogged - and it rains almost every day!
Bean plant - one of the better looking plants but not producing much. 
Courgettes might just decide to produce - finally!
Below: Patty pan squash.
On the slug front - after safari hunting and experimenting with various home made traps (with the help of my 11 year old garden helper), I've gone back to beer traps. In one night, from 8 beer traps there were 42 slugs drowned. I managed to buy beer at 58pence per can. It took 2 cans of beer to fill 8 traps - at a total cost of 3pence per slug. A bargain especially if we manage to catch more slugs tonight from the same beer!

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Aubergine Update

The aubergine / eggplant grown from seed are doing nicely and are now starting to flower. This is my first year growing aubergine as I always assumed they are more of a warm climate plant but I thought I'd give it a go. I have three plants and they are homed in my conservatory / sun room which also houses my eight tomato plants.

VarietyAubergine (eggplant) Early Long Purple 3Sown indoor from seed on 8 April 2012. Top three photos displayed taken 25 July.

It says on the seed pack they like cooler conditions once established but I'm hesitant to put them outside as most other plants I've put outside have suffered. I believe eggplant are self fertile so I have high hopes for lots of yummy fruits by Aug/Sept!

The above photo was taken on 21 June - you can see how much the plants have grown in just over a month.

On a different topic, I was asked to write an article on my blog for Culture Northern Ireland. If you'd like to read the article it's posted on their website or click here - The Art of Gardening

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Slow Growing compared to last year

This year my veg is very slow growing, and it's definitely behind in comparison to last year. This time last year I was harvesting salad leaves, tomatoes, radish and spring onion. Left: Last Summer, photo taken 13 July 2011, I was making up my own salads from items grown from seed in the garden. 

This year I've only a few salad leaves ready to harvest. My spring onion is still tiny; my radishes have bolted and much of my salad didn't germinate. However, I've lots of tomatoes forming and they should be ready to eat in the next few weeks. 
Last year (photo taken 10th July 2011) I was complaining about slug damage to my courgettes and blossom rot. This year I've haven't even managed to grow a courgette fruit yet!
Above and Below: This year's courgettes - most aren't flowering and the ones that are flowering haven't managed to produce any fruits.
But there's good news - I've harvested one (yes just one) Squash (Patty Pan White) so far this Summer. It was delicious - even if it was small.
Seed sown indoor 8 April 2012; planted into tub outside 17 June 2012. Yield: 1 squash in July.
Fingers crossed more harvests to come!
Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Blogger's Bloom Day

It's the 15th of the month - Blogger's Bloom Day. Here's a little overview of what's in flower this month.

Left and Below:
Canterbury Bells Mixed, (Hardy Biennial) - grown from seed last year and currently in flower. The bees and hoverflies are really enjoying these plants.
Delphinium are still flowering, some plants are on their 2nd flowers of which are always smaller.
Pink geranium border.
Below: Crocosmia.
Above: This shrub smells delicious like 'bubble gum'. I think it's a Mock Orange / Philadelphus.
Below: My roses all suffer from black spot.
Above and Below: Snapdragon and Silverdust grown from seed last year.

Happy Blogger's Bloom Day!
Blogger's Bloom Day is hosted by and bloggers share their blooms from across the globe.

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Tomato Update

This is my second year growing tomatoes. Last year I had a decent harvest but, of course, every year my aim is to improve upon the previous year. Last year my goal was to get to grips with training the tomato plant and pinching out side shoots - tasks that seem odd but apparently have to be done. This year my aim is to produce a higher yield. Below is a snapshot of how the tomatoes are progressing to date.

I'm growing two varieties:
Tomato (Red Cherry), Mr Fothergill's seeds; sown indoor 8 April 2012.
Tomato 'Gardener's Delight', Thompson Morgan seeds; sown indoor 8 April 2012.

'Gardener's Delight',
Above and below -six days later a tomato appears.
My supports are simply bamboo canes tied together. 
Something I've noticed which seems odd to me - the tomato flowers only seem to develop from mid-way up the plants and seem to prefer developing higher up the plant.  I thought maybe there's less light lower down that affects flower development. However the sun room is a very bright room with lots of warmth and light.  Anyone have any ideas why flowers don't develop lower down on the plants?

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Edibles Update (bean, kale, apple, carrot)

The dwarf Purple Queen seem to be the most productive so far in terms of bean growing. The 'Scarlet Emperor' and 'Cobra' seem to think its too cold and wet. 

The dwarf Purple Queen are growing in pots whereas the other beans are in the ground and are more prone to pest attack.

Left:  Bean 'Dwarf Purple Queen'.
Last year I had success growing carrots in this wheelbarrow but this year germination and growth  has been slow.  I've planted Early Nantes and some 'James Scarlet Intermediate'.
Kale Curly Scarlet is growing well and pests so far don't seem to bother with it. I'm not very keen on it myself, but I like the way it looks. I prefer eating Kale 'Nero di Toscana'.
Apples developing on the self fertilising pot grown apple tree.
Leeks left to flower. Potatoes behind the fence. Calendula and chives near the front. Also at the front (beside the post) is a very tall celeriac plant from last year; I'm waiting to see what the flowers look like. 

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Summer Showers Bring More Flowers?

Every year I try growing a few new plants (flowers and veg). I never thought I'd have the patience to grow biennials as they take two years to complete their biological life cycle and only begin to flower in their second year (then they die down and that's it). Always seemed like alot of work, however, I ended up with some Canterbury Bell seed and here's the result.

VarietyCanterbury Bells Mixed, (Hardy Biennial), Thompson & Morgan seeds.  Sown 8 April 2011 indoor (only 25% germination). Hardened off Spring 2011 and grown outside in pots until Spring 2012 when they were planted into the borders. Now flowering in their 2nd year.

July seems to be keeping with the rain theme. Updates on July flowers are included below. Delphinium are looking good, however, windy conditions have made it really difficult for tall plants. I've been staking like mad and putting string around plants but of course there's always some damage. 
Above: I've ended up with three white flowering Canterbury Bell and one purple flowering plant - mixed seed packs are potluck really!
Below: Photo taken a few days earlier when the Canterbury Bells hadn't started flowering yet. (The border seems to dominated by pink and purple - purely by accident.)
Above and Below: Delphinium are in flower. Grown from seed a number of years ago.
Above: More Delphinium - I really like the light blue colour. For those who haven't been able to grow lupin or delphinium - once they are established the plants naturally overcome any slug or snail attacks. As young plants (first few years), however, they need TLC or slugs will do away with them completely.
Above and Below: The Snapdragon and Silverdust flower beds, with climbing beans on tripods in the middle. Regretfully the climbing beans aren't doing too great. (I blame it on the weather rather than my planting arrangement lol.)
The Silverdust are still trying to flower yellow - or maybe that is their flower? (I've never seen flowering Silverdust). I do like the look the little yellow flowers.
Enjoy July in the Garden!

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

It's official - June in Northern Ireland has had double the amount of rainfall than normal for this time of year making it the wettest June since records (dating back to 1910). It's also been the second dullest June on record with very little sunshine recorded. Every year in Ireland I hear people say, 'this is the worst summer we've ever had.' But this year (so far) it's true! Hopefully we'll have more sunshine and less rain in July and August!

The weather has played havoc on some plants. I've had early bolters and of course the slugs are multiplying and feeding like crazy! I've killed three slugs the size of small fish and slug eggs have been found nestled into the sides of my potato grow bags (seriously!). 

Courgettes are yellowing. I blame it on the cold and rain. 
Of course the slugs are having nightly feasts.
Above: Radish, planted from seed in March, never developed properly and is now bolting.
Below: Spinach Bloomsdale, planted from seed in May, is now flowering as well.
I wanted lots of turnip this year as I adore the flavour. Turnip, planted from seed in March, never developed properly and has bolted. I keep breaking the flowers off as I insist on turnips!

Better news...
Turnip 'Purple Top Milan' sown from seed in May is looking healthy! I've got carrots and spinach growing there as well.
Bag grown potatoes are flowering.
And of course some of the flowers enjoy the rain. Snapdragon with Silverdust. The Silverdust is starting to flower too! These are both annuals in their second year as they refused to die down over Winter. The Silverdust is over a foot tall and looks to soon be full of yellow flowers. Quite a surprise really!

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.