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, 18 September 2016

Apple Harvesting

It's almost apple harvesting time, and this is a very exciting year for me! I have a bumper crop of 43 apples!

Six years ago I bought a self pollinating apple tree that I have grown in a pot. Over the years, I've averaged 13 apples each year (expect in 2013 when I had 0 apples). This year I've taken extra care; I've ensured the tree didn't dry out; I was careful in Spring and throughout Summer to take off leaves infected by little green caterpillars that ALWAYS infest the tree and eat the apples. I have fed and fertilized. (And I pruned last year).
A view upwards. It may be hard to believe there are 43 apples but there are. However, some are going to be too small for eating. I just couldn't bare taking any off. This year is a bit of a quantity competition!

These apples have fallen from the tree naturally (not counted in my 43). The tree has shed quite a few apples over the Summer, a natural process. Of course, I'm not sure what variety of apples they are, as the label is long gone and I never recorded what variety I bought.
So looking forward to eating my organic apples this year!

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

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Summer Harvests

Its been a busy summer and I've had lots of good eating from the garden! 

I'm involved in two community growing projects and have my own garden to look after so most of my spare time over the Summer has been gardening!

The community growing projects are great in that they involve other people who have an interest in gardening, and we've been able to share our crops. The veg in the first photo is from the community growing scheme. In our first year we've had lots of salad crops, spinach, chard, runner beans, courgette, cucumber, broad beans, parsley and potatoes. 

Two varieties of potato were harvested from my own garden - Pentland Javelin and Red Duke of York. I dry them and store them in a cloth bag in a dark, dry place. They usually keep through to December.
More veg from one of the community growing projects. Lots of salad crops this year. I also grew garlic for the first time and had reasonable success.

My tomatoes were grown from seed and kept in a plastic greenhouse facing South-East. They grew well, however, the fruits have been slow to ripen.

This large Summer Squash was given to me by a fellow grower, and has been turned into soup and put into the freezer for eating when the weather is colder!

The weather has been good and I'm hoping for a late frost!

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

Monday, 4 July 2016

Irish Castle Gardening

Over the weekend I visited Glenveagh Castle located in Glenveagh National Park in County Donegal, Ireland. This is a beautiful area of the Irish countryside and the castle grounds are quite impressive. Just a few photos taken in the rain! Even when raining, its beautiful! 

At one stage this estate was owned by an American from Philadelphia, who purchased it in 1937, and later gave it to the Irish government.
The grounds contain lovely woodland walks, and lots of interesting planting. 

The main plating scheme in the walled garden area contains alternate rows of flowers and vegetables. It makes quite an attractive display.

The gardener's cottage is lovely and is located in the walled garden - so quaint!
More info on this can be viewed by clicking here

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

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Gardening Guru - Monty Don

Recently I was involved in volunteering at the Garden Show event at Antrim Castle Gardens in Northern Ireland, and was lucky to attend  a Question and Answer session with Monty Don which was fab! Monty has many an interesting story to tell! Then I was lucky (again) to have a chance for him to sign my book.

Monty has quite a fan base in Northern Ireland. In fact, when I meet up with the community gardening group on a Saturday morning, one of the first things anyone says is, 'did you see what Monty was up to on Gardener's World'!

Thanks Monty Don for signing my book!

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

Monday, 2 May 2016

Harvesting Rhubarb

The rhubarb is ready for harvesting!

Rhubarb is one of the most reliable plants I've grown over the years. Its an early-cropper, while many other plants are just coming into growth at this time.

I've always grown rhubarb in a slightly shady area of the garden. I generally mulch it once a year and leave it to its own devices. Two of my four plants are growing at different paces - this is luck and perfect for staggering the harvests a bit. I've no idea what variety I have as the plants were given to me by two different people.
What to do with the rhubarb? I saw a recipe in Tesco (grocery store) magazine about a month back, stuck it on the fridge so I wouldn't misplace it, and waited for my rhubarb to grow big enough to harvest.  This weekend I made 'Soured Cream and Rhubarb Tea Cake' - yummy! Above is a picture of the cake on the recipe page - always a bonus when what I make resembles the picutre!  It tastes delicious. Each serving has 23 grams of fat and 477 calories - no wonder it tastes so good! 

Tesco recipes can be found at:

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

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Harvesting Veg (radish, spring onion, mustard greens)

I've started harvesting! 

There's not a whole lot of harvesting to be done at the minute (to be honest), but it's always a great feeling to be able to sow, grow, and eat something... and that something (currently) has been radishes, spring onion and giant mustard greens. 

The radish were sown in March and harvested in April. Radishes only take about a month or so to grow into something edible. I had a bit of a glut of radishes but I discovered they are delicious in stir fry, and are also good cut in half and added to vegetable soup. Of course, the most common way of eating radishes is sliced and put into salad.

Radish are generally easy to grow. However, I recall, when I first started gardening, having quite  a few unsuccessful attempts at growing them!  

The Spring Onion and Mustard Greens 'Giant Red' were sown last year around August time. They over wintered and are now starting to put on growth and are ready to eat. The giant mustard greens, like their name, taste just like mustard and are great on burgers, sandwiches or in salad to spice up the flavour.

You may notice the net covering the  veg - this is because stray cats seem to think my nicely turned soil is a 'loo' for them, so I have to net any vegetables that I grow. Suppose this is an issue many of us face (naughty cats)!

Happy Gardening!

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

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Community Gardening

April is the start of the gardening season for me and I've been back up at Antrim Castle Gardens volunteering weekly in the gardens. The grounds are owned by the local Council and the space is wonderful to work in with very beautiful surroundings.

Last year we developed a new Cottage Garden that has been developed for the most part from recycled materials (logs, old castle gate, etc) and from plants that have been donated. This is really its first year and we're looking forward to seeing how it looks this Summer. Its a work in progress, particularly as our budget is very limited.

Poppies grown from seed collected from plants in the garden.

We started sowing seed in March and things are really growing well - won't be long until we will be planting out.
We also have a Heritage Garden that we've been developing over the last couple of years.

We've a core group of 15 volunteers and others who dip in and out. It has been really enjoyable gardening with other enthusiasts, and I'd highly recommended community gardening projects! 

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

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Sunshine and hail stones

This morning I was volunteering at Antrim Castle Gardens in the community gardens and the weather was gorgeous and sunny. I harvested radishes (which are tasty in stir fry), and prepared a new veg planting area where I'll plant climbing beans, a selection of courgette (zucchini) / squash, and a range of veg, grown from seed.

Heading home, I thought, 'happy days, I'll get out into the garden.' Suddenly the skies turned grey and a shower of hail stones came down. Typical of this time of year in Northern Ireland.  You can see the hail stones in the photo above, in my low maintenance garden area.

Once again, there goes my plans for a day of gardening. Oh well, I'll do a bit of indoor garden planning!

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

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Rainy day project for the garden

The weather hasn't been great for gardening...

St Patrick's was cold (so no potatoes were put in).
Easter was cold and wet so not much done outside.
This weekend was rainy (and cold), so again no seeds sown.

I feel a bit behind schedule but I have the rest of the month to sow seeds!   So this weekend, I decided to work on mosaic butterflies for the garden. I took a night class last year and I had started various mosaic projects - one of which was four butterflies cut out of copper. I finished three of them in class and had one more to do - today's project!
A copper piece completely covered with mosaic tiles and grouted. Of course, once the grout dries it has to be cleaned up!

On the left, a finished piece. On the right the copper shape. I like both pieces and think the copper is nice on its own. However, I can't wait to hang the bright, mosaic tile butterfly pieces in the garden over the coming months.

An enjoyable rainy day project!

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

Monday, 28 March 2016

Getting Back into the Garden

I generally wait until April to start sowing seed and this year will be the same. My little plastic green house is great and comes in handy. This little 'tent' system is cheap; it cost about £10 and keeps plants warm and protected. I'll then harden them off and get them into the ground by late May / early June.

Other seed of course will be sown direct into the prepared beds in May / June. 

This year I'm upping my sowing of potatoes, onions and salad plants. Other plants I always sow:
- courgette
- kale 
mainly because they're easy to grow and generally give me little trouble.

I'm focusing quite  a bit on salad plants this year and will grow a variety of lettuces for colour, shape/texture and taste. Another busy year for sure!

Potatoes will go into the ground in early April and Onion sets will be started in the greenhouse.

It's great to see the bees buzzing around the garden; here pictured feeding on Heather.

A little reminder to myself this time of year!

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

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Happy Easter

Happy Easter weekend!
(photo taken at Belfast Botanic Gardens)
The smell of hyacinths is amazing!

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

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

The Beauty of Spring...

Just a few photos to show the beauty of late Winter, early Spring....


gorgeous colour!

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

Monday, 22 February 2016

Winter colour

It's about a month until the official start to Spring... this time of year its lovely to see masses of snowdrops and crocuses - sure signs that warmer weather is on its way.

The great thing about crocuses and snowdrops is that they get bigger and better each year as they develop, and as the bulbs multiply underground. These are fab little plants that are worth investing in!
After snowdrops flower, simply lift, divide and replant some in other areas of the garden to get more plants for free. They do well planted under trees. 

The dogwood Cornus shrub is best known for its brightly coloured stems in Winter. You may see in the photo that little buds are beginning to grow on some of the stems, indicating it's soon time to give it a hard prune.  A job for the coming weeks.

I've been in Winter slumber along with my garden, and now there's lots of tidying to do and preparations for Spring. Not long now until seeds will be sown.... March and April will be busy months!

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

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Planning for Spring...

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