Category Archives: Gardening

Spring on my Step

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I’m sick – again – this time with a stomach bug one of my co-workers brought in last week, courtesy of his daughter. Fine one second, using the bathroom in all kinds of noisy ways the next. Let’s just say it’s a good thing I can barf into the sink while still sitting on the toilet…never thought there would be a bonus to a tiny bathroom but there you are.

So. I’ve been sitting on these pics for a few weeks. The daffs are in full bloom now, but they looked this this not so long ago:

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And a close up:

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The black lilies are ahead of the pack – they are really shouting for joy at the sunlight and warmer temps.

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The ones out front don’t get as much sun, so they aren’t as large. My beloved tigridia isn’t doing a thing – I’m wondering if it even comes back. I had a gentle dig and the roots aren’t rotten, but also not showing signs of life. Damn. Ah, it’s hopefully okay – I have hundreds of seeds that I saved and they are coming up!

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Damn that Talented Hubby o’ Mine…

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…and his spiffy ‘real camera.’ Imma just going to put these here.

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Dammit.

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Really, iDJ? You’re just showing off now.

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That jerk. How dare he spend his lunch hour taking really awesome flower pictures just for me (and you)!

First Green Stuff Post of 2014, or: Spring!

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I’m having way too much fun with my other frosty photos, so I’m not ready to put them up here yet. I think I’m going to have to be a jerk and watermark the hell out of them – they are that spiffy (to me, anyway)!

Instead, I’m going to give you a bit of spring.

Anyone over this side of the pond knows that snowdrops come up first. We got these a few years ago from a cheap supermarket packet, and they are really coming into their own this year.

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We won’t talk about the disastrous state of the paint on my wall, or my finger being in the pic, or the fact they are blurry as hell, okay? Okay. They make iDJ and I very happy when they come up and let us know that it is, indeed, spring in Ireland.

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Next are the crocuses. The purple ones bloom first, for some reason. Have a couple orange-yellow ones now, and a variegated purple – but no decent pics (as if this shot qualifies as decent, considering one of them has been beheaded). I meant to seed the whole front ‘lawn’ with these, but damn, the ground was hard and muddy and rocky and we only ever did a few. Mice ate the rest of the bulbs that I didn’t plant. Oops. I don’t think they really like it there much – no sunshine at all this time of year. Oh well.

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More crocus. Or is that Croci?

I’ve also started some seedlings – early ones. Stuff that needs more time of being alive before it can make tasty food for me and mine:

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Corn! I now have a wee heated Aldi propagator, and so I started corn and tomatoes and super hot scotch bonnet peppers for iDJ. Put them in the propagator Sunday the 15th Feb, and by the 18th, I had two corn plants this tall. They have now been potted out in big pots as they outgrew the prop. quite quickly. But only three of 12 germinated, so I will have to try another batch. Should still have time, I hope.

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Peppers, or tomatoes? I honestly can’t tell when they are babies. Sort of like how a Chihuahua pup and a Great Dane pup will look identical when newborn. They aren’t in danger of outgrowing the propagator any time soon, but it does concern me that they have to lean so far over just to get any of our sunshine this time of year.

I was meant to start the peppers back in December but I wasn’t ready.

I’m now feeling bad that my seedlings are much larger! If I took daily photos it might be fun, but also potentially quite boring. “Watching grass grow.”

Help needed from Ireland and England!

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What the HELL is tearing up my garden?

All along the walls in our back garden, something has been digging. This was a month ago:

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This was two weeks ago:

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It’s much, much worse now. What the hell could it be? It’s not birds, or cats, or our dog. I doubt a fox or badger would come in our wee space – the gate is very low and the space is small and reeks of dog.

Could we have a resident hedgehog? What the hell else could be doing this? Helppppp :)

Last Gasp of the Flowers?

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It was gorgeous today. Sunny and about 8 degrees C, which feels warm to me at this time of year. In the last two months – officially winter here – we’ve had one day of sleet and hail, and about three so far where it got near to zero and there was frost on the car, and the grass. The wind barely made its usual horrendously damaging appearance in late October, and November has been equally placid.

Of course the rain never really goes away, it is Ireland, after all.

Last weekend it was also lovely, so I borrowed iDJ’s iPhone to take pictures of my remaining flowers.

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The rudbeckia is still going strong. I am so impressed with how long one bloom can survive. They are very welcome; now more than ever with their warm autumn coloration.

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More rudbeckia.

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Galliardia is still in bloom, too.

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I’m fascinated with their huge puff-ball seed heads, too. I’m leaving them to mature, just out of curiosity.

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Now. This is something that really fascinates me! This is the stem of just one of the many black lilies that I grew this year. This one plant has not only made seeds, but seems to be growing bulblets all along its stem. I’m boggled. I think it is quite possible my garden next year is going to be overrun with black lilies. We may just have to dig up the whole front lawn (no great loss) and plant it with lilies and tigridia. I have no photos of them, but I have hundreds of tigridia seeds. Anyone in Europe want to have a go at growing them from seed? I’ll post them to ye.

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The strawberry / raspberry patch is looking distinctly autumnal, and dammed ugly to boot.

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One of my blueberry bushes always has incredible colour for fall. And it takes fall to heart: leaves everywhere.

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I don’t know much about lavender. I grew these from seed last spring because I was told it was hard, and I love a challenge. They are blooming now, is that normal?

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I had an absolutely terrible time trying to get the phone to focus on the lavender blooms. Oh well.

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Some real colour to finish off with! The violas, a first for me this year. I expected tiny wee plants that were good as a border around another lavender plant. Instead they got nearly 2 foot tall, choked the lavender to death, and seeded everywhere when I wasn’t looking. As they are still beautifully in bloom, I can’t complain. Those little cat-whisker faces just make me smile.

Cyclamen!

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When I was very low with my depression, my mother in law bought me a living plant. It was one I’d never had before, a cyclamen. It was in bloom in June, but went dormant.

Well. This thing has gone craazeee in the last month. We keep it in the bathroom (kitty-free-zone) and it makes me smile with every visit.

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It actually has twice as many blooms now as it did when I asked iDJ to take this photo! I think I’m a convert.

Still blooming!

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I still have flowers! Lots of them! I think it is quite appropriate that my late-autumn blooms are lovely autumn colours, too.

Would you like to play a game? Two of these shots were taken on iDJ’s iPhone 4s (by himself) the rest on my iPhone 3s (by me). Which two?

Rudbeckia (black-eyed-Susan), anyone?

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Whoops! A little wonky, let’s try another.

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Whoops, a little blurry! Oh well.

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A bloom size comparison between the Galliardia and the rudbeckia.

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What is possibly going to be my last sunflower of the year. We will see, the first plant had buds all the way down the stem.

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There’s the goddamn carrot pic I was looking for! Yummy :)

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And that first tasty ‘mater!

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These things are still going, the former mystery plant now identified as Mimulus.

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Just to be contrary, my last photo isn’t shades of orange and red, but of a pink Tigrida – yes, these are still blooming, too! Not as prolific these days, but I’m well impressed with these guys.

Dinner and a conversation

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Hubby has his Internet radio show every Thursday. It’s from 8 to 10 our time, and then he has some bits n pieces to finish off afterward, so we don’t get to eat until rather late.

Last night I decided I had the time to pick some fresh herbs to put on the pork roast, and he decided he had the time to chop them for me (I dislike chopping them, not sure why as the smell is amazing). I brought in oregano, basil, rosemary, and thyme, and added two garlic cloves that were also home-grown. I always pick too much! The pork was nearly crusted in greenery (I also add salt and black pepper, can’t grow them).

I got ambitious then, knowing that we’d have more good green stuff than necessary, and I decided I also had time to make a salad. We’ve not had one in ages, as hubby never seems interested when I say I want one.

I didn’t use the rocket (arugula) I grew, as it has gone all tough and leggy and seedy. And I forgot I had it. So, boring old iceberg lettuce from the supermarket. With my only four ripe cherry tomatoes – one the size of my pinky fingernail – and a sliced carrot from the Stupid Girl raised bed. That carrot was so damn tasty and sweet! For the dressing I added a bit of dried chopped garlic and my leftover cut herbs into a bit of white wine vinegar and let it sit. I didn’t need to add the fresh herbs; the point of putting anything in the vinegar is to rehydrate a dried spice – so if you don’t have fresh spices, toss everything in the vinegar, whatever is to hand. I don’t measure, sorry – eyeball it! I decided this time to add the fresh ones as the cutting board was hogging all my counter space.

The pork cooks for about 2 hours… when the meat is done I let it sit on a plate, and add water (or sometimes flat Pepsi) to the pan and swish it about to turn the yummy caramelisation flavour into a bit of jus. I add olive oil to the vinegar and swish that about a lot too, before pouring over the veggies. Simple and tasty!

Hubby likes to rate our meals out of 10. Usually he just rates his own cooking, the little egotist. I asked him for his rating of my dinner this time, as he kept saying how great it was.

“The salad is a 9.5! But, it was so good that the meat got lost. So the meat is only an 8. I give the overall meal an 8.”

“Wait, what? How do I get downgraded from a 9.5 and an 8 to an overall 8? Did you forget how averages work?”

“I’m sticking with an 8. The salad overshadowed the meat, sorry.”

A disappointing result. So much for not showing interest in my salads, eh?

Autumn Fell

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It was beautiful yesterday. Sunny, warm, calm.

Today I was woken up by the distinct sound of gusts of wind hurtling around the house, accompanied by something falling over out front.

Sigh. Get up, put on rain gear, grab iPhone to document damage.

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Rudbeckia, flattened. This is the one plant that over wintered from last year. I know it got too tall for the recycled salt-box, but my plants always get bigger than I expect them to. Now propped up in a calmer corner.

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Sunflower down! Again, too tall and in a rather light-weight salt-box ‘pot.’ Also moved to a quieter place.

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Sunflower 2 down! This one is more worrying. It’s in a heavy pot, and instead of falling over it bent over at the stem. It’s not broken, though. Now hiding behind me, propped up by a dead olive tree. I had to hold a leaf with my lips as I couldn’t hold the heavy pot and steady the stem at the same time, too windy!

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Noooo… My stargazer and black lilies! That pot is HEAVY, dammit! Okay so the plants are well over a meter tall… my poor plant-babies.

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Augh! Black lilies and Tigridia! They aren’t that tall, I didn’t expect them to go over. Maybe my little Mayo GAA flag is to blame.

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Not the cosmos, too? It hasn’t even had a chance to bloom yet. Had this one snuggled right up to the house, thought it would be safe there. The pot is chipped now, too.

While writing this, there was a blast of wind so strong I had to say ‘holy shit.’ And now the sun is trying to come out.

Ahh, Ireland in the Autumn!

Falling into Autumn

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The growing season is winding down in Ireland now – for us, autumn officially starts at the beginning of August. My blueberry bushes believe it’s fall – their leaves are starting to turn. The raspberries believe it too; no more fruit to be had this year. The wild blackberries are amazingly prolific and in nearly full-fruit – any ideas on what I can do with them are more than welcome (I don’t have access to canning equipment). They are everywhere in Ireland, it’s crazy.

My cherry tomatoes are lush with fruit, but every last one is still bright green.

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I also found two itty-bitty tomato plants growing out front, where I put down some of my home-made compost earlier in the year. The blighted ‘maters I had last year must have had a few viable seeds. Or maybe they are from the year before? I might dig them up and bring them inside just to see what happens. Mystery ‘maters!

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Terrible pic (these are all from my iPhone this morning, and the sun doesn’t hit the back wall until late in the day). But! Can you see it? I have an ear of corn forming, finally! Of my five surviving cornstalks, this one went for gold first. I see one other that might be thinking of getting corny, too. I’m rather assuming that, like the tomatoes, they don’t have a hope in hell of ripening in time. Ah well, I still try.

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My first gaillardia flower! Lovely colour for autumn, of course.

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Second one, blurred, sorry! They are a bit slow to bloom, not like my rudbeckia…

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This photo is weeks old. Every single rudbeckia bloom is still in place!

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Today.

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Of course there are some new ones.

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Each Susan has her eye blackened in a slightly different way. What a terrible nickname. I’ll stick with rudbeckia – the word is much more fun to say, too.

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Second sunflower! Hubby took this and has had some photoshop fun – our neighbour’s house isn’t quite that bright of an orange-red! I think we can forgive him, since the contrast is pretty damn cool.