Monday, October 05, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
On a recent trip to Ireland we had a day out at Lissadell House and gardens. It’s a grand 19th century house overlooking Sligo Bay with two fantastically well stocked gardens – one for alpines and the other for crops. The house was completed in 1833 but had fallen into poor repair in recent years. New owners have carefully restored it and cultivated the gardens which were overgrown for over six decades.
To mark the UN ‘International Year of the Potato’ they planted 169 different varieties of spud along the circumference of the walled kitchen garden. Many of the potatoes were from the heritage collection of David Langford which was donated to Lissadell. Their most popular varieties are the Orla, an early, blight resistent potato bred in Carlow in 1999; the Arran Victory, a maincrop potato first bred in 1918 and the Pink Fir Apple, a salad potato bred in 1850.
Saturday, August 01, 2009
This might go unobserved by most of us but nature is always on the look out for opportunities. In the neglected front yard of a terrace house a colony of cinnabar moth lavae are munching their way through a ragworth plant. These beautiful black and vermillion moths only lay their eggs on this plant. The warning stripes of orange and black a message to birds that they have ingested the toxins from this weed and won't be good to eat.
A buddleia bush growing down a crack in a nearby wall offers nectar for bumble and honeybees. They are so attracted to the flowers that there is a bit of jostling going on. It's crowded at this new nectar bar in town.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Jane Grigson's vegetable book if really handy for courgette recipes but also has advice for those of us who have left them too long on the plant:
'For a small family faced with a huge marrow, it is best to slice it down into rings about 2-3cm thick, allowing one or two per person. Do not peel the rings, but blanch them for five minutes only, after removing the seeds in the middle. Place the rings in a buttered dish and fill the centres with stuffing, allowing it to spread a little over the marrow in a domed shape. Allow 45-60 mins at 190C/375F.' Sounds like a plan.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
There are lots of ladybird lavae going walkabout on the lottie. This is good news as the lavae are voracious feeders and will munch their way though lots of aphids. I am reliably informed by wiki that they pupate after about three months depending on how much food there is about.
Spotted lots of lavae at the pupal stage as I was weeding. As I was peering at one of the pupae it began flicking up and down. I thought this might mean that a ladybird beatle was just about to hatch but have since learned that this was actually a demonstration of annoyance. I like the fact that it doesn't let a little thing like undergoing morphological change get in the way of telling me to keep my distance.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Monday, June 08, 2009
Monday, June 01, 2009
Our feathered friends have been feasting on the cabbages I planted out recently but neglected to net. Still, there are a couple of survivors which are doing well and I have planted out some red kale to keep them company. The broad beans have not yet been attacked by black fly so I must remember to pinch out their growing tips when I visit next. The Observer allotment blog is worth checking out for a useful list of jobs to do this month. There are certainly lots of tasks to do in June but it is rewarding when you see everything growing so well.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Dug over the potato bed as I'll soon be planting out the seed potatoes. The broad beans are growing well and just neeeded a little support.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Things are stirring on the allotment. Rhubarb leaves are cracking through their papery shells and narcissus are flowering in clumps amongst the grass borders. Planted out some broad bean plants and spent another Sunday morning digging over the beds. Trying to get a head start by pulling up the tangle of grass stolons lurking under the soil before they really pick up pace.