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, 29 July 2014

Community Gardening Update

Things are going well at the community gardening project at Antrim Castle Gardens. This is our 2nd year in the gardens working as a volunteer group and we've expanded our projects to include growing more plants from seed, growing a variety of herbs and heirloom veg as well as expanding the spaces we maintain. 

Left: pear trees are producing! We've apples, strawberries, currants, gooseberries and rhubarb - our yields aren't big but this means there's room for improvement!
Above and Below: Inside the greenhouse we sow seed and move it out into the garden. Permanent plants this summer have included tomato (purple cherry),  peppers, cucumbers and a grapevine.
Below: Cherry tomatoes are beginning  to ripen.

Above: Out in the vegetable growing area we have broccoli, cabbage, lettuces, leek, celery, turnip, kale, radish, parsley and a range of other crops. We've started sharing our veg with visitors to the gardens and they're delighted to take home a few potatoes  or some herbs, etc. There's only a few of our members that like to cook in the group - me being one of them -I have an endless supply of ingredients each week for cooking!
Above: one of the seven flower beds we are currently maintaining - deadheading never seizes to end! This year we divided most of the perennial plants. The next job we must try is propagating as we could provide visitors with lovely new plants to take home!

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

Friday, 25 July 2014

Red hot Summer

Bright summer colours are looking good in our Mediterranean style red hot summer! Well, high 70s is red hot for Ireland. The weather has been very good this year.

Left: unfortunately this isn't in my own garden. This is a red-tastic display in a garden centre. Very eye catching!

Below, the vibrant colours putting on a show in my garden this month...

Above: Dianthus (annuals), planted at the back door, add a great splay of colour.
Above: Red Astilbe looks good planted along with yellow flowering Achillea in a side border.
Above: Red lilies are flowering & looking great!

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

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Courgette and Cucumber Harvests

We're having fab warm weather this summer - with many dry days and temperatures in the 70s F (20s Celsius). This is fantastic weather for Northern Ireland. The courgettes and other plants are generally loving the warm conditions. Not a bit of blossom rot in sight on the courgettes!

Left: Courgette Tondo di Piacenza are producing well in the large terracotta pot - two plants in the one pot. 

This week I started harvesting courgette and I think my next challenge will be using them as there are many fruits forming on four of my five plants, and they mature very quickly. Tonight I'm making shepherds pie and will be chopping up the two courgette pictured below and putting them in, along with parsley from the garden. 
Above: these are about grapefruit size. I'm hoping to find a good recipe for stuffed courgettes as I think this shape is ideal.
The Courgette All Green Bush is also doing well and is starting to produce - the courgette pictured will soon turn into marrow size so it's on my list to harvest tonight!
Above & Below: don't cucumber look much like courgette! Up at the Community Garden at Antrim Castle Gardens - we've had lots of cucumber ready to eat from the end of June! Most of our members don't like the taste of cucumber so I've been eating some, and we give them to garden visitors to take home.
Above: Cucumbers growing in the greenhouse at Antrim Castle Gardens love the warm conditions and are producing well.
Below: My own cucumber growing outdoors in a pot outside the back door - is just beginning to flower - what a difference from the greenhouse grown ones!

On a different topic, I've been away touring Wicklow and Wexford in Ireland over the last few weeks so haven't updated my blog much. I have three beds that I grow vegetables in and while I was away slugs and snails ate two whole veg beds worth of seedlings/plants - I came back to two empty beds! My third veg bed wasn't touched for some reason (apart from caterpillar damage to beetroot). On a positive note the vegetable plants at the community gardening project at Antrim Castle Gardens are thriving and I've been able to use some veg from there. More on all of this in the coming weeks. I hope to get caught up on my blog reading in the upcoming week as well! 

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

Sunday, 13 July 2014


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

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Will it be a good year for Courgettes?

The courgette / zucchini plants are growing well and starting to produce lots of flowers. In years past my plants have suffered increasingly from blossom rot where the flowers fall off and don't produce fruits. Recently I read an article that recommended removing the old shrivelled-up flowers once the courgette has been pollinated, to prevent blossom end rot, especially in wet / damp weather - so I must see if this helps. I've five plants & two varieties growing:
Courgette Tondo di Piacenza and
Courgette All Green Bush.

I'm hoping this year will be a good year for courgette harvests! Courgettes are good in stir fries, stuffed, and added to soups and casseroles. They can even be used in cakes and muffins (lots of recipes online).
Above: Two Courgette Tondo di Piacenza plants have been placed in a large pot. The Tondo courgette reach tennis ball size and are described on the seed pack as 'novel fruits with excellent flavour'.

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

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Lovin' the Sweetpea

At the Garden Show Ireland this year I bought an impressive large tripod of sweetpea for only £10 (about USA $17) from the students at Greenmount Horticultural College and planted it in a corner of the garden at the end of May. It contains a mixture of pink, purple and white flowering sweetpea and is very attractive indeed!

I've grown sweetpea in the past and it usually ends up a tangled mess. This year, it is also progressing into a tangled plant, however I'm cutting lots of flowers to bring indoors and it looks good in the garden. I'm trying to deadhead regularly, and feed regularly to keep it flowering and healthy-looking for a long period. 

Sweetpea is a lovely garden plant, and it smells quite nice. So glad I purchased it!

Every week I'm bringing fresh sweetpea indoors and the scent is really fab!

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