Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Garden/Yard update

A COUPLE of weeks back we finally got rid of the excess stuff in our back yard including the concrete inside of a fireplace, various bags of green rubbish, other rubbish from moving and a large wooden coal scuttle, so I was at last able to stretch out the yard a bit and try to work out what should go where.

The before pics

How it began...

Getting the back ready
The rubbish to be removed

Moving House - A work in progress

The after pics





This is still a work in progress as I need to find somewhere to put a bin. The thought of leaving bin bags of our weekly rubbish out the back for the delight of the local feral cats is not something I relish or want to do over time. So I need to find a place for a bin, currently you couldn't swing one of those cats in the back never mind slot in a wheely bin, but I may think of some kind of solution.

On the growing side of things I am pretty happy, the rhubarb is doing well and though I should I don't use it as I love the massive prehistoric leaves. The strawberries are still coming along, though they seem to have waned on producing lots of fruit, still they look healthy and happy in their welly boot and hanging basket homes. My berry bushes are also happy but not producing anymore fruit. Again I am not too bothered, they have been moved about a bit so are probably just getting used to their new positions.

My little oasis

The sugarsnap peas have been so easy to grow, I mean incredibly easy. The seeds produced some 48 plants which I planted along with sweet pea flower. The idea being that they would grow around each other giving me lovely flowers with lovely vegetables. While the flowers are still growing there hasn't been any flowers yet, but we have enjoyed sugar snap peas with dinner a couple of times.

Home grown sugar snap peas from my back yard

One thing I have learned with the peas is that they don't like a zig zag trellis to grow up along. One trough of the plants had a wire one and they have taken off madly, the other trough literally withered into itself in the short space of a week. Since then I have replaced the trellis and am hopeful that where there's green there's life. You can see the mad difference between the two, which were grown at the same time and have received the same light, love and water. Despite its sad and sorry appearance, this trough of peas is still producing flowers so there will be more sugar snap peas from the not-so-good batch.


Sugar snap peas


The greenhouse is heaving with tomato plants which were held back for about two months when they remained in their sowing tray despite needing to be planted. But with all the stuff that needed shifting from the back yard I literally had nowhere to put them. So now they are potted and living in the greenhouse in the hope of tempting them quickly along the upwards and thriving path. Because they remained too long in the sowing tray, some have adopted strange kinks and twists, despite that they also look pretty healthy.

The runner beans and broad beans seem to be happy, I just need to watch that I haven't crowded them into a corner too much, but they are flowering, though no signs of any beans yet. I also planted kale at the start of the summer which is working away. Unfortunately I have one pot which would probably be eaten in one forkful, so last week I planted more. Trouble is I thought I had also planted salad leaves and so far all three pots planted look exactly the same. So they are either remarkably the same at an early stage or I have planted all kale or all salad leaves, time will tell and that is part of the fun.


Courgettes are also remarkably easy to grow and so beautiful. I literally popped a seed into a pot and that was it. The flowers are absolutely stunning and I think the courgettes might need to flower to keep growing. You can see one courgette which grew great guns and all of a sudden is withering. I should chop it off but I cannot bear too. However I will to give the other courgette growing behind that beautiful flower a better chance.

I think courgettes need the flower


Courgette flower

By far the most work I have had to do, with a lot of help from herself, is the watering. All those pots need regular watering. The hanging baskets in particular need a lot of attention and I must get better at pulling off the dead leaves and flowers, its just a never ending battle. The good thing about the pots is that because we are renting it means if something more permanent ever comes up, my pots can come with me. (And I am not talking about the social and affordable housing lottery, I got my 'you were unsuccessful, again, letter last week.)

Loving my window box

Flower-wiseI went a bit nasturtium crazy and I don't think I will do that next year. They are lovely but are taking over everything. I was also kinda stupid and would see a blank patch in a pot and would push in a seed. They are taking over one of my window boxes that came from our former flat which has lavender and fuscia in it. It is growing crazily and I am thinking at some stage I might have to pull it out or cut it back to help the other plants. Currently though the window box looks fantastic. On top of all that black flies seem to find these plants irresistible and I have been spraying a lot of soapy water on them to try and shift them.

So far it has worked, but a massive swarm have taken over one bit of my hanging basket and that soapy solution wasn't working so I got a spray and hopefully it is shifting them. How on earth do these wee blighters, with no gardens around us, manage to find us.

I planted herbs as well, basil, parsley and chives. Other than the parsley, this was basically a fruitless expedition. There are about 10 chives growing, big wow and the basil plant while sturdy and healthy is rather pathetic with its two stems. Are they worth it? I don't think so. The basil and chive plants I bought from Lidl or Aldi (can't remember which) on the other hand are thriving, the chives in particular once re-potted have sprung into life, and are even flowering!

Pots and pots

Chives and coriander
Neither of these survived, though I did manage one small pot of chives

Speaking of Aldi and Lidl I bought two excellent chairs from one or the other for €39.99 each. Not only are they very comfortable but they have about four different positions, including lying right back. They fold away quite flat and are just perfect for the yard. I had been looking for something that would work in the small space and nearly killed myself trying to get the two chairs home, actually strike that I nearly killed myself and others trying to get them out of the shop. It is times like that when I wish I had a car and another pair of hands, the state of me banging my way out of the store was something else.

And that reminds me of Friday's Habitat sale which I will probably post about as well, I know its late but hey the weekend was gorgeous and I was enjoying what I bought more than writing about it. One of the best purchases was a little bright blue steel table that folds away. That was a nightmare to get out of the shop, back to work and then home later. Now it sits beautifully in the back.


Anyway thats about it, I think. I would recommend everyone to try their hand/green fingers, even if all you have is a windowsill. You would be amazed at what you can do, as this cucumber plant will testify. If you want to see more I have a set on Flickr.



Katherine said...

Your yarden looks lovely - if ever I have one I'm going to copy yours!

Boliath said...

Just beautiful babe, I had no idea you had such a green thumb!

elly parker said...

Our basil plant hated being outside, so we moved him back in to a sunny window sill and he's thriving now.

My chives (transplanted portion from s-i-l's plant) is doing great and the flowers just taste gorgeous.

Let me know if you want any cuttings and I can help you out.

Irene said...

What a garden of Eden you have managed to make!!! I love it! Growing your own food in the concrete jungle, that's the life!

A few rules of gardening:
Basil does not like the Irish 'summer'. Best grown inside.
Strawberries only give one crop annually.
Berry bushes only give one crop annually.
Courgettes are best cut when they are still small-ish, the more you cut, the bigger a crop.

And finally, how's about just leaving the wheelie bin at the front of the house?

Donal said...

Wow! What a fantastic job you've done. Maybe I should do a before of my place and give an incentive to do something with it! Next year...

Red Mum said...

@Katherine 'yarden' brilliant, I've never heard that before and its a perfect word for my yarden :)

@Boliath I've tried over the years, the last place's window sills were the only place I had and they were full to the brim.

@elly my bought basil and chives are both doing well in the kitchen. You'll have to tell me what you have, and I can swop with a tomato plant :)

@Irene, there is something wonderfully uplifting about pottering around watching all your stuff growing.

The strawberries are still providing the occasional delight in the garden but the berries, as you say, gave me one small crop, but one beautiful berry provided the middle 'cherry on the top' on a birthday cake I made.

I never knew that about courgettes, so basically that beautiful one turned because I left it too long.

Unfortunately I wouldn't be able to leave a wheelie bin in the street, I don't think its allowed and I imagine it would get kicked over. I am thinking of using the rhubarb to hide a bin :)

Thanks for the advice, its much appreciated Irene.

@Donal Definitely do take before and after shots, I think sometimes they are more gratifying than sitting enjoying it. I did lots of before pics in the house move, but I wish I had actually taken more during! I am still waiting on the complete finished afters in the house and out in my yarden.

Thanks everyone for your comments, I'm delighted you all seem to like my little patch of heaven.

Katherine said...

Ah my friend Liz has a yarden so that's from whence it came!

Irene said...

Red Mum, one thing is giving the advise, another is actually doing it!!! ;-)

As for the courgette and all other veg for that matter, the younger they are, the more refined is the taste in my experience! Good luck with the bin!

Coastal Aussie said...

Well done - it all looks and sounds fabulous. I especially love the idea of the strawberries in the gumbee, I must try it. :)

d@\/ e said...

This must be the best gardening blog I've read yet.

My Mrs was experimenting with water melon seeds and they managed to take so they're out in the propagator in medium sized plant pots.We've to work out where to put them in a couple of weeks, that should be fun.

BTW,I've seen wooden boxes/containers which are designed to put wheelie bins in.

Michael said...

Below are some basic gardening tips to get you started on creating your dream garden

Gardening Tip 1? Consider your plants health as well as your own. Ensure you keep yourself well hydrated whilst gardening. As most gardening is done in the sun, involves physical labor and is very engrossing, it is easy to work away for hours on end without noticing the time flying by.

Gardening Tip 2. Design your garden before you start digging. Your time and energy is precious so don’t start digging holes and planting plants without having a garden design first. You may choose to employ a professional garden design or you may just want to draw your desired garden on a piece of paper yourself, depending on your budget.

Gardening Tip 3. Make a list of the tools and materials you will need. After creating your garden design, list the tools and materials that are required to create your masterpiece.

Blue Army 2008 said...

Wow a real garden in the heart of the City you have done wonders. Remember when you moved into that house, you now have a home. It's a lovely story and you made it all happen. Well done granny will be delighted when she comes back to change your TV back to Russian

Red Mum said...

@katherine - yarden has become my word of the moment, not that I have been enjoying the yarden much with all this rain.

@irene - I must try that, a load of little courgettes are growing at the moment.

I can't believe how easy they are, I literally popped a seed into a pot and that was it!

@coastalaussie welly boots are brilliant. I am also thinking of hanging the basket with strawberry's on the wall, just above my head level, and add one or two empty ones for the long trailing new plants that have come from the original plants.

@d@ve ah gee thanks :) It has been all experimental here, but I am thrilled with the successes.

@Michael from doing all this I have a better idea of things I will do differently next year and things I will do more and earlier.

@blue army 2008 - I still have things to do in the house, but it is mostly together and we are delighted with it. It is such a change you could not believe it. And if the tv gets turned back to Russian there will be hell to pay :)

Anonymous said...

Your yard-en looks great! Can you tell me where you got that zippy-up greenhouse thing with the shelves? ... in your afters pic. I need one of those!

Red Mum said...

Hi P, that small greenhouse thing was one of the best things we got for the yarden. My Mum got it in Belfast in Poundstretcher for either £10 or £20, can't remember which. But I have seen them on sale in Dublin in Woodies for about 40 euro.

Another small knick knack shop around the corner from me near Dublin's Manor Street also sells them. Sorry I don't know where you are.

It is one thing I got for the yarden that has been brilliant. I recommend it to everyone.

Anonymous said...

I loved your backyard garden! Its awesome and I admire that cute green house! I am just setting up my garden at Chennai, India in our small little apartment. It would never be so lively as yours, but anyways I am giving my best! :)
Good luck..