Co Antrim Garden, Northern Ireland

This is the journal of my endeavours to grow a range of fruit, veg & flowers from seed, grow organically, and my attempts to create an outdoor personal paradise with 1/2 acre of maintained gardens and 1/2 acre of wild meadows.

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Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Sweet Pea - is it worth it?

Sweet Pea... it germinates easily enough (70:30 germination ratio) however if I don't keep a watchful eye on it, suddenly I end up with a giant, knotted mess (untangleable). Also, it has to be deadheaded at least weekly to keep it flowering well. Sometimes I wonder is it worth it???

This variety is very sweet smelling and pretty. I have it growing in a pot up a metal trellis.

Variety: Sweet Pea Old Spice Mixed (grandiflora), Hardy Annual, Mr Fothergill's Seeds, 30 seeds, £1.85.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Nasturtiums - when nothing else will grow!

Easy to grow from seed, Nasturtiums will grow in poor, dry soil. I really liked these seeds; they grow quickly and aren't fussy. Variety: Nasturium Dayglow Mixed, Carters Tested Seeds, 35 seeds, 79 pence.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Calendula and Rowan Trees

I planted Wild Cherry trees along the driveway about 10 years ago, however, they were growing too big so I took them out one Autumn, gave them away, and replaced them with Rowan trees. Rowan, also known as Mountain Ash, get loads of beautiful berries in late summer which attract birds. Bare root Cherry or Rowan bought as 1.5-2 feet whips from Conservation Volunteers for 50p each. They establish quickly.

What a bargain - 50 pence per tree!
Accent planting: Calendula Orange King (hardy annual), Carters Seeds, 79p.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Flowers - Calendula and Everlasting Sweetpea

Grown from seed, Hardy Annual Calendula Orange King are edible (add some flower petals to salad), easy to grow and make a great show. They are bright orange (the picture makes them look yellowish?). I have them mixed with white Everlasting Sweetpea which is a perennial type of sweetpea and has no smell (bummer). Variety: Calendula, Carters Tested Seeds, 150 seeds, 79 pence per pack.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Spring Onion (Chives)

These Spring Onions are perrenial as they come up evey year. Not sure if they can be eaten (I imagine) however I generally use them for colour and to deter pests from other plants.... love the flower heads (which can also be eaten). This year I grew Spring Onion White Lisbon for eating (they are delicious) which I've planted in the ground and in containers. They grow better and faster in containers (probably as my ground isn't the most fertile).

This picture was taken in June; pictured left of the spring onion are sunflowers and left again, potatoes - all grown a bit too close together but I still got results. (see 11 August blog for how much the sunflowers grew in 2 months).

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Lupins in June/July

A striking cottage style perennial... grown from seed, these lupins were sown a few years ago and they come up every year. The flowers really add colour in June/July. (Flowered in their first year even though the pack said 'first flowering the following year'.) Not 100% sure of the variety as I threw out the seed pack but think they are... Variety: Lupin Russell Mix.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Pest Problem - Cabbage Golden Acre

I think this is slug damage... doesn't look very good. This is why I grew potatoes, cabbage and lettuces in pots this year and actually the pot grown cabbage is twice the size already (see 12 Aug posting) with the seedlings all grown at the same time. Variety: Cabbage Golden Acre, Homebase, 39 pence per pack.

Flower 'Snapdragon' Antirrhinum Intermediate Mixed

Grown from seed in April/May these tiny seedlings I had my doubts about, however, they turned out quite jazzy little things. Funny how many of the city councils used snapdragons this year and somehow theirs look healtier, bigger and more colourful (oh well). I'd definitely grow these again; great value at 79p per pack of 2,400 seeds! The seed pack says to space them 16" apart when planting out, but to get a good display they need to be jam packed (3" apart) and weekly organic feed. Variety: Antirrhinum Intermediate Mixed, Half Hardy Annual, Carters Tested Seed, 2,400 seeds, 79 pence per pack.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Flower 'Snapdragon' Antirrhinium Royal Bride

Sown from seed, this year I grew snapdragons for the first time. The pack says they'll grow up to 36 inches, however, mine have grown between 12-24 inches. This was dissapointing. The seeds were tiny and the seedlings itsy-bitsy but over time they grew (slowly!). The seed pack says they are 'Half Hardy Annual" so I imagine they'll be suffering from our cold evenings soon and will die with our first frost. I hope they self seed! Variety: Antirrhinium 'Royal Bride', Thompson & Morgan, 500 seeds, £1.99 per pack.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Salad Container Gardening (Cabbage, Salad, Leek, Spring Onion)

I seem to have less problems with pests, particularly slugs, with container gardening. And it’s great to pop out the back door for salad and spring onions! Grown from seed...

Variety: Cabbage Golden Acre, Homebase, 175 seeds, 39 pence per pack.
Result: Grows well in pots; those grown in the ground are savaged by slugs.

Variety: Spring Onion White Lisbon, Carters Tested Seeds, 550 seeds, 79 pence per pack.
Result: Taste great, easily grown. Slugs/pests aren’t a problem.

Variety: Leek Musselburgh, Carters Tested Seeds, 350 seeds, 79 pence per pack.
Result: Really yum! They grow great in pots; will grow most anywhere. Slugs/pests aren’t a problem.

Salad Variety: Leaf Salad Lettuce Mixed, Carters Tested Seeds, (Pack contains a mix of Red, Cos, red-tinged Batavia and oak-leaf lettuce varieties, 1,500 seeds, 79 pence per pack.
Result: Easy to grow. I’ve been eating salad all summer from one sowing. The only downside is the red salad gets slightly slim-like when washed, but it looked good in salads.

Salad Variety: Rocket, Thompson & Morgan, 250 seeds, £1.50 per pack.
Result: This is the first time I’ve grown rocket and it bolted very quickly, not sure why? Perhaps I didn’t water it enough.

Variety: Looseleaf Lettuce (crinkly leaves; this variety doesn't grow to form lettuce heads, but instead the leaves are joined at the stem). This lettuce was a gift; grown from seed.
Result: Pictured in the container with leeks and spring onion, I didn't particularly like this lettuce. It looks good but it attracts loads of greenfly!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Sunflower (Giant Single)

Sunflowers are so much fun to grow... it's always a competition who can grow the tallest, or get the biggest sunflower head. Grown from seed, as of today, the tallest is 8 feet 2 inches and still growing. Slugs and ants seem to be eating on them but they are soldiering on. Variety: Sunflower Giant Single (Hardy Annual), Mr Fothergill's, 75 seeds, £1.25 per pack.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Pepper (California Wonder)

I love growing from seed rather than buying plants in shops. This year I'm growing peppers for the first time. Sown in May/June indoors, I'm hoping to get peppers before it gets too cold (although they are in a conservatory which helps). Variety: California Wonder by Thompson & Morgan, 30 seeds, £1.50 per pack.

Monday, 9 August 2010

"Petunia n Boots"

I love the bright pink petunias this year... and the range of wellies available! In Northern Ireland we get rain, wind, sun and then rain & wind -sometimes all on the same day! This can make gardening difficult. It's only August and I feel like I need to bring the petunias indoor at night already (burrr)!