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

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Gardening Year in Review

January: Cabbage Jan King - a welcome winter sight!
I feel like I've been in hibernation over the past six weeks! Time has flown by, and now that all the seasonal festivities are coming to an end, I’m hoping to get back to regular blogging and catching up on my blog reading too!

Here’s a little review of 2014 in the garden and how the year took shape....

February: seaweed added as a mulch.
2014 was a year that began with some of the wettest, stormiest weather on record.
March: Spring crocus bulbs look bright and cheerful.
Mild weather gave way to an early Spring with bulbs popping up a few weeks earlier than usual.

April: A new herb container with thyme, oregano, chives, and lavender is added to the garden.

May: lots of pretty pink and purples come into flower.

June: The bees start busying themselves in the garden. Pictured on Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun'.
June and July were lovely months for gardening with some warm weather.

July: Summer is all go with weekly volunteering in the community garden.

August: brings lots of colour with roses, perennials and annuals.

September: lots of veg being harvested, particularly towards late Summer. September was the 2nd driest on record, and we had some fab sunny days. The insects also seemed to enjoy the 'Indian Summer'.

October: I consider seeds and order a few new varieties (e.g. asparagus lettuce) - only a few packs purchased this year!

November: I tidy up the herb container and cut straglers back.Weather reports describe 2014 as a topsy-turvy year! Most years in the garden are a bit topsy-turvy. All in all, I'd say a great year!

December: I bake, eat, visit family and think about the New Year goals for the garden!
Happy Holidays Everyone!

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

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Plant Swap

A couple of weeks ago my gardening group had its first plant swap! What fun! 

It was a fab night with food and socialising and lots of plants to choose from. We also brought along gardening books and magazines to swap them too. However, the plants proved most popular on the evening.

I came home with lots of goodies, some of which are pictured here. I acquired two new shrubs, one a Weigela which is now potted up. I also came away with 2 Agapanthus, 2 Lychnis Coronaria, Primula Auricula and various other plants. Some I have in holding areas until I do some further Autumn tidying.
It was amazing to see such a variety of plants brought along by our small group. I think we had about 15 people on the night. Everyone was delighted with the numerous free plants they took home and we'll be planning this event on an annual basis.

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

Sunday, 2 November 2014

New Seeds

I've started planning for 2015 and recently I purchased a few seeds from an organic gardening company based in Surrey.

I'm always excited to get new seeds (even though I have hundreds of seed packs)! However I now share seeds with my gardening group so it's not as bad if I have lots of them!

I bought 6 packs of seeds, one of which is still to come. Here's what I chose:

Asparagus Lettuce (organic) - apparently when it bolts the stems are edible and have a flavour like asparagus. This appeals to me as bolting plants seems common place in my garden.

Orache Green (organic) - this one can be eaten when it bolts too. It's related to spinach, eaten like lettuce, but the flavour doesn't go bitter when it bolts.

I also ordered Giant Red Mustard Greens (organic) as I thought it would be attractive and I love the taste of mustard; and Red Curled Kale as I was out of seed and enjoy the beauty of this plant amongst others in the garden.

In terms of flowers, the French Marigold Mr Majestic are deep red and yellow and I'm assuming easy to grow lik most marigolds, with a long flowering period (June to October). 

Of course, there is always a random purchase, and this time my random choice was Cobaea Scandens, a vigorous climber with large purple, bell shaped flowers and dark green foliage. What I will do with this, I haven't quite figured out! But its all part of the fun!

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

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Happy Halloween

It's the end of October and no frost as of yet (but surely soon to come). This is a great time of year to go for Autumn Walks and on my recent walk, what did I discover, but a little fairy village. 

These fairy houses are located along a public walk in Northern Ireland called the Newtownabbey Way and there is a whole community of little handmade doors adjoining a community of trees - lots of fun to see!

Wonder if fairies go trick-or-treating!?!
Happy Halloween!

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

Monday, 27 October 2014

Community Gardening Update

Just a few late summer photos of the flower beds and vegetable/ herb beds at Antrim Castle Gardens where we have a group of approx 20 volunteers who give time regularly to maintain areas of the grounds.

As you can see, the blooms are still going strong. We've had a good year and are hoping to secure a polytunnel in the Spring, to help us develop further and grow more plants from seed.
Above: Our flower beds contain a mix of perennials, grasses and annuals. (We don't maintain the shrubs/tress in the photo.) Popular plants with visitors to the gardens include Salvia Purple Majesty, Verbena and annuals such as begonia. 
Above: The heritage kitchen garden, in its first year, contains several different beds, one for brassicas, another for salads, and another for medicinal herbs. We added box hedging and used some marigold  borders to create edging. Unfortunately some of the box seems to have box blight and marigolds are now coming out for Winter.
Above: We've grown lots of veg throughout the Summer and have shared our crops with visitors to the garden (most give a donation). Popular items inlcude potatoes, swede, beetroot, lettuces and parsley.
It's a lovely environment to volunteer!

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

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Late Summer Flowers

We've had a bit of an Indian Summer, however, it is now turning wet and windy and the plants are likely to be battered about over the weekend. Over the past six weeks it has been great to see butterflies, moths, hover flies and bees about the garden enjoying themselves - and they make good photo subjects!  

I'm currently taking a photography class so I'm hoping my blog photos will continue to improve over the coming year!

Above: Sedum flowers in late summer and attract lots of insects!
Above: Salvia Purple Majesty and Verbena look well all summer long.
Above: Verbena still going strong in October - a must have plant!
What would be on your 'must have' plant list???

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

Monday, 13 October 2014

Autumn Apple Picking

Pictured: apples picked at the Apple Event.
My own home grown apple harvest this year  was 3 apples (just 3). 

But not to worry, County Armagh in Northern Ireland is known for growing apples and this year seemed a good year for apples (except for mine)! One of the National Trust Properties, Ardress House, has an apple orchard and at the weekend they had an all things apple event - apple picking, pressing, apple pie, apple cider, etc. 
Above: Apple trees as far as the eye could see!
Many trees full of apples ready to eat!
The apple event was a great day out and its lovely to come back home with apples much larger and less perfectly shaped than the shops offer. Unfortunately there was no signage to tell what variety of apples were available. There seemed to be several different varieties and I seemed to pick what look like cooking apples. Looks like I've a few apple pies to make this week to start using my apples!

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

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Happy Harvesting in October

October harvests are still going strong... lots to harvest as we go into cooler weather.

This week's harvest included curly kale (fab in soups), lettuce little gem, dwarf bean purple queen, perpetual spinach, flat leaf parsley, two types beetroot and turnip. 

The star of the week is Dwarf Bean 'Purple Queen' - yummy and lots of beans are developing; I'm hoping the colder weather at night won't negatively affect them.
Tomatoes grown from seed, and plants kept outdoors, are ripening but they're also splitting. I think these are Gardener's Delight. Suppose this is due to the variations in weather and water. The inside of many of the tomatoes are spongy - not sure why - so I'm using them for cooking rather than salads. I'm not keen on spongy tasting tomatoes!

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

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Veg Update

September has been warm and the vegetables are still going strong. I'm glad I kept sowing seed, even late in the season, as I've ended up with a good few items for late harvesting.

Left: Lettuces, courgette, parsley etc are growing happily. The pak choi keeps  bolting; I've tried to grow it on a number of occasions and haven't had success so this might be going on my black list of 'don't bother to grow'.

Other veg growing include kale, swede, beetroot, chard, leek and salad crops.

One of the problems this month with courgette has been mildew on the leaves. I've ended cutting most of the leaves off. 
Above: Lots of Turnip Milan Purple Top.
Above: This photo was taken about 10 days ago; the cherry sized tomatoes are now turning red. I'm not a huge fan of tomatoes so most go into cooking / sauces.
Above: This time of year is great for taking woodland walks and picking blackberries - free and tasty!
Above: Dwarf Beans Purple Queen were sown in late June and are producing well. Better late than never!

Lots to keep me busy! Hope you have a great week in the garden!

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

Friday, 19 September 2014

September Flowers

September has been very dry. I can't recall any rain this month, not in the last 2 weeks anyway. It's been fairly warm and the late summer flowers are joining forces with the annuals and other plants that are still showing their summer colour. 

The plants in this post are more recent additions to the garden and them seem to be very good value, adding late summer colour.

Left: Rudbeckia Goldsturm I purchased this plant in a plant clearance and it's a great wee plant.

Above: Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun' - this plant seems to get better and better each year. In its 2nd year it has been flowering from early Summer and seems to have lots more to give.
Above: Agapanthus - in its first year, it has had giant white flower heads for a few weeks that are now finishing.

Above: Tall phlox is starting to finish and has brought a nice bright splash of late colour.
Above: Hydrangea 'Magical Moonlight' (a free gift from Spalding Plant Company) has some nice long flower heads and goes from white to cream to pink tinted. Its been flowering most of the summer.
Above and below: Moths and butterflies are really enjoying the Verbena - one of my favourite plants. Its been flowering all summer and is a great plant for a cottage style garden.

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