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, 22 February 2015

Colours of Spring

Three of my favourite plants this time of year...

- crocus bulbs
- flowering heather, and
- snowdrops.

These gorgeous colours are a sign that Spring is on its way. And even though we could still get snow, hail, frost, or wintry rain showers, Spring is coming, and it feels great getting outside into the garden this time of year!
Flowering heather - this quick growing shrub is good value for money and it seems to flower for long periods! Often these plants are sold in tiny pots for £1.99 and they will double or triple in size in a year or two.
Snowdrops are gorgeous and are one of my favourite February plants. Grown from bulbs, they can be divided easily to make new plants every few years. This makes them quite good value for money. They look great in drifts under trees.

I took much of December and January off in the garden, and am only really getting back outside into the garden this week. I'm looking forward to sunny weekends to start lots of new projects and getting seed sown!

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

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Herbs for cooking and teas

Last year I added more herbs to the garden and tried to incorporate more herbs into cooking. I'd score myself as halfway there and room for improvement, but that's part of the fun of growing, experimenting, and learning as I go along.

Lately as the weather improves, I've noticed the herbs are growing and many are ready for use such as the Thyme (left). This plant was probably about 1/4 of the size last year when planted. They seem to grow quite fast.

Above: Two types of Thyme and in the middle what I think is Oregano - fabulous smell when you run your fingers over them.

Above: A variegated Thyme that has more than trebled in size in a year - is looking a little baldy! Not sure what to do about this to be honest!

Above: Everything in the garden can't always look 'pretty'. This mint plant is starting to put on new growth, and needs a good chop back. I think mint is one of those plants that is almost impossible to kill! Mint tea all summer for me!
Above: Perennial Fennel is showing some new growth. I've saved fennel seeds from the Autumn and am enjoying Fennel tea over the Winter months.
The Rosemary has stayed green and lush all Winter. It keeps growing and growing!
I have cooked quite a bit with Rosemary - snipping two-inch sized pieces off and adding to meat whilst cooking, then removing before serving. In one case, I was entertaining and used rosemary sprigs to flavour potato wedges;  one of the children commented, "It's nice but could the twigs be left off next time."

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

Monday, 2 February 2015

My veggies are looking a bit sad

I have one remaining veg area with plants in it. Over the weekend I did a bit of tidying and some clearing. I managed to make a little salad from two young lettuces 'arctic king', tatsoi leaves and a mizuna that was hiding under the parsley.

I pulled up about 6 beetroot that are likely to be inedible, however, I'm tempted to give it a go and see. 

Left: these were planted quite late (mid August) and I thought they were spinach but looking at the photo they look like chard. Something is nibbling on them, but I predict they'll keep producing green leaves well into Spring.
Parsley (plain leaf) is taking over this area and needs harvested - suppose there's only so much parsley I can eat!
Above: Kale 'nero di toscana' with tatsoi (a baby leaf salad),  and lettuce 'arctic king' growing slowing in the background.
The seed pack from what are described as 'cool weather' croppers. I always keep my seed packs and I try to write the date seeds are sown on the back of the pack as an attempt to record what I've sown.

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