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

Monday, 29 July 2013

July Veg Update

Lots of veggies ready to harvest this month including some of my favourite easy to grow plants - turnip, courgette, beans and salad fixings. 

Its great to pop out into the garden and have veg for a salad or stir fry - without the need to go to the shops! 

Here's a little snapshot of the veg that's thriving this month...

Left and Below: Turnip 'Purple Top Milan'
Courgette / Zucchini are finally reaching a good size. Although baby courgettes are tasty too.
Below: Courgette (yellow zucchini) 'Soleil F1' is slower to progress.
Above: Bean 'Dwarf Purple Queen', started from seed in April are producing. I like to use them in stir fries.
Below: Dwarf beans grow alongside onions in a raised bed.
Above: Onion 'Stuttgarter' look to be progressing well.
Below: Radish 'Scarlet Globe'.
Above: Chard 'White Silver 2' for stir fry.
Below: More salad ingredients harvested at the weekend. (beetroot, 3 types of lettuce, spring onion, courgette).

On the not so successful side - veg I've been trying to grow but pests keep eating the seedling include pok choi and kohl rabi (however, I'll keep trying)!

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

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Summer Salads

I've been eating salad for lunch and dinner all week due to unexpected success at lettuce growing this year. I suppose with the hot weather we're having this July the slugs aren't munching as much as they normally do. Plus I go slug catching almost every night to protect my plants.

Left: Salad prepared with various lettuces including beetroot leaves, grated beetroot, spring onion, calendula petals and decorated with a nasturtium flower.
This raised veg box is mostly plants for summer salads (or stir fries).
Pictured L-R (front): Spring Onion ‘White Lisbon’, Lettuce ‘Bijou’, Chard 'White Silver'.
L-R (back): 
Lettuce ‘Little Gem Pearl’, Lettuce ‘Verpia’, Beetroot  ‘Solist’. The plants in this bed came from a mail order I placed as I hadn't had much success growing salads from seed in previous years.
Some slug damage on the Little Gem lettuce (pictured left) but most of the salad seems pest free.
The Beetroot  ‘Solist’ has grown successfully, however, it hasn't much flavour. It's golf ball to tennis ball size. I use some of the baby leaves from the plant in salad and the bigger leaves in stir fry.
Grown from seed, this beautiful looking salad grew successfully. I labeled it as Lettuce E I N K and now I've no idea what the E I N K stands for as I misplaced the seed pack.
Above and below: Grown from seed, flowers for decorating and eating in salads: Calendula 'Orange King' and Nasturtium 'Tuti Fruitti Mixed'.
Above: all from the garden.
Below: a bit of chicken, croutons and dressing make a tasty dinner!

Bon Appetit!

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

Monday, 22 July 2013

July flowers

Its been very hot in Northern Ireland for the past two weeks with weather reaching up to 25C / 80F. This is not our normal weather for this time of year, which would normally be raining and lucky to reach 20C / 70F. 

The first sunflower 'Single Giant' is in bloom this week - aren't sunflowers so pretty! I grew this one from seed. My seed list can be found by clicking here. I try to keep it updated.

Other plants of interest in the garden....

Above: Delphinium grown from seed several years ago.
Above: Wild foxglove self seed in the garden.
Below: Feathery flowered Astilbe growing alongside Geranium.
Above: A climbing Hydrangea has large flower heads. Growing behind the hydrangea is a climbing rose (pictured below) which is left to its own devices each year.
Above: I divided this Delphinium plant last year and moved some pieces to other areas of the garden. The plant in rebellion has produced less flowers this year.

Below: The lupin is almost finished now.  

Here's hoping your garden is full of blooms!

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

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Community Gardening Project Update - part 2

Our Community Gardening group first came together in April to begin to design flower bed planting schemes for several areas that we will  maintain in future. Pictured left are some of our initial thoughts on a design. We worked with a garden designer, Bruce Batten, who helped us put our ideas on paper to produce a proper design 'to scale'. This was a very enlightening process - especially learning to measure areas and calculate the number of plants needed, etc.
Above and Below: some of our completed planting scheme design plans. The various beds will result in a sun with rays of colour shooting out from the centre - if you can see this from the two designs shown? The tiny dots on the design represent the number of plants needed within the planting area - you can click the photo to enlarge to see it better.
Above: This is one of the areas we'll be planting in July using our 'sun ray' planting scheme.
Above: Plants have arrived but many are different than those ordered, so we have to work as a group to revise our planting design. We are quite late with our planting as normally planting would be done by end of May / begging of June. However, as a new group, our 'process' for doing things has taken longer than expected but we're making progress!
Above: This is our vegetable planting area, which we haven't even begun to work on! 
This photos is an attempt to show you the wider area our group is maintaining - basically any unplanted areas are our flower bed areas. The veg area isn't shown in this photo. It is beautiful surroundings to be working in.

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

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Community Gardening Update - part 1

The community gardening project has had a slow start but is really starting to take off now. We must have about 20 or 30 members who are involved in the project at Antrim Castle Gardens. Back in April we designed detailed planting plans and chose mostly perennial plants for the site, however, during May- June there were various delays that meant our group couldn't meet. Then at the end of June we had a phone call that a large number of bedding plants were at our disposal if we wanted them. This was great news as our group had only been involved in digging over and weeding beds thus far.

Left: A range of plants (lobelia, begonia, alyssum, geranium / pelargonium, snapdragon, perilla) are given to our group.

First, as a group, we discuss ideas for planting.
We agree a planting scheme, then we get suck in - this is the fun part!
Above and Below: This is our first planting result as a group. We're all quite happy with the result. Soon we will be using the glasshouse in the background to grow from seed.
I usually take the photos, however, I'm in this one (far right).
To see the 1st blog post on the project - click here.
A further update on the community project (part 2) will be posted later this week.

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

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Time to Make Plant Feed 'Tea'

It's time to make home made fertiliser for the garden - and it's FREE to make. This year I'm combining comfrey and nettle to make a brew of 'tea' that will feed both the flowers and the vegetables in the garden.

Left and below: A comfrey plant that appeared in the garden - a weed as such. I leave it in the flower border as the bees love it and I can make fertiliser from the plant a couple times each year. Aren't the flowers pretty when photographed up close!

Above: I've taken the approach Monty Don demonstrated on the TV show Gardener's World. He stuffs as much comfrey or nettles into a bucket, adds water, and puts it in a shelter position for about a month. Then its a case of diluting it with water to use in the garden.
Above: This is a small container I filled with nettles a month earlier and covered with a lid to 'brew' - it is now quite smelly but perfect to dilute (about 10 parts water; 1 part brew) and used in the garden. Nettles are nitrogen rich and are said to provide a good source of nutrients for plants, especially those growing in containers.
For a video on how to make Nettle Tea for the garden - click here.
For instructions on how to make Comfrey Fertiliser / Tea - click here.

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

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Before and After Shots

It's always interesting to see how plants develop so I thought I would show a few before and after shots of some plants as they have developed in the garden.

The Aquilegia / Columbine (pictured above) look great in its prime (left) and about four weeks later they're full of seed heads. This is one plant I can't bother to remove spent flowers - way too much work!
Above: Potatoes emerge (1st June) and pictured below several weeks later (22 June).
Above and Below: Potatoes growing in a container with two weeks growth and some earthing up in between photos.

Above: Salad bed at its infancy (26 May).
Below: Salad bed approx six weeks later in July.
The chives keep multiplying. Above photo taken 1st June and three weeks later in flower (below). 
I'm hoping to organise my photo library soon to get more 'before' and 'after' shots - if you have any, please do show them on your blog!

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