Friday, April 19, 2013


A quick post - just found this site on foraging for mushrooms in Ireland and I thought I would pass it on. Someday soon I have to get out on one of these walks to learn about how to forage mushrooms - I have picked some from fields in my youth, but would love to know more about which to pick, where to pick and when to pick! Please comment with any good sites on them.

One great gift idea for those of you that enjoy truffles - how about growing your own! Haven't tried this myself and have no ties with the company, but its definitely one for my wish list!

Bought a grow your own mushroom kit in B&Q, just been waiting for the weather to get consistently warmer to try it out. Will let you know how I get on!

I can't wait to pick a basket like in the photo - just have to get my knowledge level up - as its a risky business should you pick the wrong mushrooms!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Grand stretch in the evenings!

The weather yesterday was glorious - rushed home from work and straight out to the garden after dinner. So much to catch up on after the cold weather we have had over the past couple of months. Big difference yesterday in the weather compared with the gale force winds the night before and of course today has changed back into heavy showers, so doubt I will get out again this evening.

Finally we got around to putting up some posts and wires for my fruit bushes. I am growing redcurrant, blackcurrant and raspberries and I have a gooseberry bush and a blueberry bush as well. Some of them were trailing along the ground which made them easy prey for slugs etc ( and also our lawnmower!). Also we had no defined edge for the border against the lawn, so this was needed to be put in. Above is the view along the side of the back garden.

This is the section behind the garage. I moved a few raspberry plant suckers (daughters) during the winter to this spot along with a blackcurrant bush cutting and so far they have all taken - can see new growth on them all. At the top left is my gooseberry bush which I hope to pick from this year as it was planted approx 18 months ago. 
Good link if you are thinking of transplanting your own raspberry suckers - 
How to Dig and Plant Raspberry Runners

This is the other side of the back of the site - the raspberry bushes have gotten very tall in places ( some same height as me 5ft 6"!!). There are still a few suckers I will have to dig out - more presents for friends! 

First posts and wire up - I am using the same wire they use here for electric fences - so it should be both very strong and durable. Also we got the edging in the whole way around.

I tied up some of the branches to wire to prevent them trailing along the ground. Also, should make picking from those branches a lot easier at harvest time.

We still need to put down some compost to help feed the bushes and clear the last weeds from around the plants and then we are going to put bark down to help control the weeds and moisture.

My garlic plants are coming along nicely. Onions planted to the front haven't started yet - but only down two weeks. I had a lot of trouble with birds and cats pulling up my garlic bulbs - had to cover the bed in a net until recently. Thankfully it doesn't seem to have bothered the garlic too much - great tough plant!

My broccoli is growing well in its mini cloche. I have some Pak Choi seeds planted or which a few have started to germinate under the cloche. 

I just love the colour the purple sprouting broccoli is giving to the garden at the moment - as well as the delicious veg for my dinner! 

In this photo, you can see the stump of the floret I cut two weeks ago and the new florets that grew around it once the space was released by the cutting. 

The rewards - a full bowl of broccoli! Great to have and to share!

I love self-seeding plants (and I don't mean the thistle in the above photo!) - above I have some violas that have self seeded in the bed just inside the gate. I usually buy some winter hardy viola annual plants in mid-autumn and I find that they usually survive the winter to produce a brilliant showing in spring/early-summer far exceeding the showing you get from ones brought in spring time. Also, they love to self-seed - which makes my job all the easier :-)

Now all I need is the weather to improve so I can get back in the garden!! 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April update 1

What a great start to April. Lovely sunshine last weekend finally which enabled me to get out in the garden. The weather is promised to change to wet, but warmer so now I am going to risk getting the garden started. Ten day weather forecast for Shannon here (time for umbrellas!) :

As I went around the garden, one thing I did notice was there was a marked difference in the temperature in the soil of the raised beds compared with the ground.

Of course - I did pull in a favour off my hubbie to get the potato drills started. Planted my Sarpo Mira potatoes on Sat - these are a main crop variety. I spaced them about 12-14inches apart in the ground and covered them with a few inches of soil. I will build up the drills as the shoots appear. Sarpo Mira are supposed to be a good blight resistant potato - time and summer will tell. Fingers crossed! Only doing half the potatoes I did last year as I had such issues with blight due to the wet summer despite spraying them weekly.

Planted out my broccoli (calebrese) plants too - these I covered with a mini cloche tunnel to keep them from getting too damaged in the wind/rain that is forecast. This will also increase the temp for the seedlings so they should grow quickly. I also planted a small number of radish and pak choi (my first time growing from seed) seeds under the cloche - these will be well gone out of the way by the time the broccoli needs the space. 

My last remaining parsnips were evicted from their bed to make room for the onions which are following them in my bed rotation policy. Great to still be picking fresh veg even at this late stage. I don't think I will grow parsnips in my raised beds again though - they grew too well (poor complaint I know!) - as my raised beds are 2 ft - the parsnips were almost impossible to dig out ( help was needed again) and we had to break some of them to get them out.

I have now my first raised bed full of garlic, onions and shallots. I will be planting more shallots and onions directly into the soil in a couple of weeks - weather dependant. I am also waiting for my purple sprouting broccoli to finish before I can dig it up and use the space for the onions.

I brought out my spring onions that I had growing inside on the window sill to my temp greenhouse. Planted a few other seeds in there too to see how they do. As it is only a plastic greenhouse with a couple of holes, it wouldn't be as warm as a glass greenhouse. Also brought out a few other garden plants (morning glory, nasturtiums, tomato) to start to acclimatise them,

We got a gift of new gloves and I cannot rate them highly enough - I normally end up flinging my gloves aside to get fine work done or handle small plants, but these gloves above were absolutely excellent. The only thing I wasn't able to do with them was handle fine seeds, but really managed to wear them for everything else. Some of the gardening gloves I have tried in the past are either too bulky or else you still have dirty nails afterwards which often negates the reason for wearing them.

Found a website below that sells them in the UK (note, I have no connection with the company - just one I found through google and I haven't used them).

Monday, April 8, 2013

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

First year ever growing Purple Sprouting Broccoli and definitely not my last!! So great to be able to go out and pick some veg at this time of year. I did get one shock with it which I will describe later.

There isn't a big large head like calabrese (normal broccoli) to you and me - there is a smallish floret at the top and the rest is spears that grow along the sides. 

I have managed 4 picks so far from my bed of about 8 plants. It has been largely ignored during the winter and is in good condition considering. There is another month of a couple of picks a week from the plants to go. Great at this time of year!! 

My first pick!

The purple sprouting broccoli doesn't take as long as calabrese to cook - just took a couple of minutes in boiling water. I cooked it with some parsnips that I had still in the garden ( which had been cooking already).
Discovered then, purple sprouting broccoli looses its purple colour when cooking - the water absorbs it all, and so did my parsnips slightly! Was totally shocked - had people over for dinner and was promising them lovely purple broccoli, but it just looked like normal calabrese! Tasted slightly sweeter, but then again, picking to cooking time was only about 10mins!

Those of you that are fans of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall - he has a couple of recipes for purple sprouting broccoli at the link below.

More details on the growing of Purple Sprouting Broccoli on the GIY website:

Definitely one for the plot if you have space!!