Early Spring Garden Diary

From a gardening perspective, it is unfortunate that I didn’t begin this blog in May.  It would be a better first impression, but, it is what it is–still somewhat productive at best, and at worst neglected. Maybe it’s better this way; early spring really does feel like the starting point of a new garden year.


From atop the road I can get a pretty good shot of our front gardens.  Off to the left we have two more fields.  One is our ‘pumpkin patch’ and ‘corn field’.  The other we have yet to garden but plan to move our tunnel there this summer.  The lake pictured in yesterday’s post can be seen in the distance.  A close up view reveals tires and pallets and pretty much anything else of use that we can get for free and recycle.

In full bloom, the letter ‘L-O-V-E’ beds can be hard to read.  This time of year the remaining kale, beetroot, carrot, celery, and herb plants leave plenty of room for the seaweed Johnny put as fertilizer in the autumn.

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These shaded beds sit below the high wall that borders the end where I took the first couple of photos, about twenty five feet from the ‘LOVE’ beds.  The sun is too low this time of year to shine on them.  Up until a month ago, the couple on the left still had some lettuce under cover.  Now all they’re growing is weeds–actually a surprise swiss chard sprouted that is sheltered enough to have survived.  The other three beds have a dressing of leaf mulch on them. The only winter survivors in the heart herb bed are lemon and regular thyme, sage, and some unusable oregano and marjoram–you can almost see this bed snuggled between the ‘L’ and ‘O’ above.

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We’re thankful for planting late carrots because it is one of the veg that tastes really blah when transitioning to shop bought.  “These aren’t our carrots are they?”  we heard last year when we tried sneaking in substitutes. We love them too much to go without.  So far this year we have not run out, but the time is nearing.  The tops are wind fried, but below the earth, gorgeousness.

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Artichokes never really died off completely.  This will be our second year with them.  I got them as off shoot seedlings from a neighboring gardener.  Fennel is beginning to grow and ornamental kale is still hanging in there.  All surrounded by neglect…time to cut and clear, better late than never.  Nasturtiums, hollyhocks, calendula, lupin, gladiola, and hydrangea share the wall (not pictured) with these and add great color throughout most of the year.  Rhubarb is there too and budding (is that what it does?) but I guess I got distracted before taking those pics.


The bed on the left has lots of perennial plants–rocket, horseradish, rosemary, spearmint, bay laural, campanula, eryngium, statice, roses, borage, cornflower, and some others I can’t think of now–a colorful mixture. The low wall bordering the bed is made up of stones that were a four foot wall running snug up behind the tree. It was the first thing I did when we moved in–I freed the tree!  It really needed to be climbed and hugged and loved.

As Irish a I get on the topic of the weather is commenting that “it’s a great day to line dry laundry”, which this time of year is uncommon. The sunshine can be deceiving. The near constant dampness in the air is great for a complexion, not so good for hanging laundry out though.  I mention this in case you spotted them in the background.  It was a great day.


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The reason I ventured into the garden today was to uproot the outdoor celery and swiss chard.  We had still been picking celery each Monday morning to mix into tuna or egg salad for school lunches.  In our haste, and the barely there winter morning light, we only saw the withered and burnt outer stalks which we’d pick and chop down to something usable.  It was a great surprise when I saw plant after plant regenerating from it’s core.  So I cleaned the outer stalks away (which were not waste) and am hopeful they will last a second season.  With my going away, celery might not get seeded this year.

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The swiss chard outside (bye-bye) vs. the swiss chard in the tunnel (yum-yum).

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The swiss chard is also growing anew from it’s center.  In the middle of the bed pictured to the right is self-sowing wild garlic.  We lay the garlic there to dry last year–seeds fell off and this is the result.  It might not like the summer heat but we plan to move the tunnel because of…


our lovely tree that decided to grow there.  Well, I planted it, but it was the only seed that germinated from an entire package of morning glories.  I put it in the ground two summers ago, the plan being that it would climb up the bar there.  It wasn’t long before we realized it wasn’t what we thought.  We still haven’t identified it, haven’t really tried either.  Alder and birch have been guesses by visitors.  Both would survive without cover, but the tunnel won’t survive another summer of it growing nearly three feet per year as it will surely bust through the plastic.  It is over six feet tall right now and is curving along the top of the tunnel.

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So many more pictures I could add but I will end with one pretty, one not so pretty.  I forgot the carrots outside so they didn’t join their dinner companions for this photo.  The celery is from the cleaned up plants.  The kitchen floor is muddy, a sure sign of a new gardening season.

I know many of you are still buried under snow.  I hope these pictures bring you some gardening joy until the snow melts, ground thaws, and you can get out and play in the dirt too.  Melissa Xx


  1. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    So wonderful to get a view of your garden – talk about garden with a view. Love the ‘love’ raised beds. I can imagine the stone walls make a great micro-climate. Reading this makes my fingers itch to get out in the garden!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ruth says:

    Lovely looking garden and it’s great to see life still growing there even in the winter. This year I’m hoping to grow our veggies, up to now my Dad’s garden has been our supplier but he keeps telling me I need to do my own, the problem is I’m not a growing kind of gal so I reckon this first year is going to be a lot of q’s back and forth to my dad, he might be sorry he mentioned it 🙂 Had to laugh at the weather comment, I’m sure we can get you built up to an entire conversation around the weather but it is very warm for line drying having gotten some out and in dry 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As we suffer through snow and temps in the 20s (F) here on the east coast of N America, my dad keeps telling me that winter is just about over. I laugh, despite all the years he’s been away from Ireland, he still considers Feb 1 the beginning of spring. Would that it were!!! “Love” your raised beds and the gorgeous views – of both the scenery and the garden! Happy planting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Feb 1 works here but definitely not where you are. My parents are still snow buried in Maine. but daffodils are four inches out of the ground here. Thank for your nice compliments. We love the raised beds for keeping the soil from washing away each winter. The more I read about permaculture the more interested in that I am also. We’d like to experiment with that in the future.

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  4. The best advise I read today thank you so much for this wonderful post as a real amateur gardener it was so great to get the names of the perennials you have growing and I just loved the layouts , I really hope you keep posting about what you are growing here I really appreciate this post it is so helpful thank you. Happy days, Kathy.

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    • Oh, you made my day!! I am so happy to say ‘what goes around comes around’. There are some very knowledgeable gardeners on the island who have been generous with me. I am so grateful for their patience with my questioning and dropping in on them when seeing them in their gardens. I will definitely keep the garden diary updated…not certain how much work I will be putting into it here this year, but I will be growing either here or in Leitrim so, yes, we shall continue to learn together.

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      • I think you have a very good point about chatting with neighbours about growing conditions etc and this is also a lovely way to become active within our communities, love your views they are really beautiful,

        When my children were small we spent a few months living on Achill Island it was one of the happiest times of our lives , we always remember that time with fondness that was in the eighties and suddenly the city beckoned with all its colour and modern technology and we gave in. I now find that a lot of what we wanted to do back then like being self sufficient and managing without a lot of modern material stuff is resurfacing ha ha life really does go in circles , however saying that I hope this time that I can succeed in the challenge if only to grow some of our own veg and enjoy being outdoors more. Love your blog , I see you mentioned permaculture in one of the posts , have you seen the bealtaine cottage blog , I think you would enjoy it , the photos are wonderful and the woman who writes the blog is called Collette O’neill she has done some wonderful things on her land . just thought I would mention it , you may find it interesting . Blessings Kathy.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I wish to visit Achill some day. I know a family from there, they lived here for a while, their children were in school with mine. I just checked out the Bealtaine Cottage blog. Wow! I would love to visit. Since I decided not to attend school, I have the idea to take smaller courses and do garden visits to gain some knowledge that way. Thanks for connecting me with Collette’s site. She has so much content that I will be reading for weeks.


          • I knew you would enjoy the Bealtaine site , sorry to hear you are not doing your course ,now , but I know it is hard when the children are small, I went back to college when my youngest was about 16 and it was great but it would have been more difficult when they were small unless it was near me , these things are always there and it is never too late to go back to college ,one of my daughters she has 2 girls at school is in the final year of her degree now , she travels to Sligo every day , it was pretty hard going for her but she is nearly finished now and she is glad she went back , I am happy for her that she did it now but saying that, college will always be there and the kids grow up real fast , sometimes it shocks me when i realise just how fast those years went ha ha. Achill is really beautiful especially when the weather is good , us Irish are obsessed with the weather ha ha , when i see photos of peoples gardens in sunnier climates it makes me a little jealous of all that sunshine but i am sure we will get lots of sun this year I hope . You mention in the post here taking some local courses , have you thought about giving some courses yourself , I am sure there would be lots of people who would love to know how to sew or your writing which is very creative could be just the course people would love to take part in where you live and one can always find lots of plans on the net how to go about giving such courses etc , just a thought , my adult children now say , mom you are great at giving advise ha ha if only I could take some of my own advise. ;looking forward to catching up with your blog , Kind regards and happy days to you and your loved ones. kathy.

            Liked by 1 person

        • I do teach sewing classes to children. It has been my hearts desire for so long, delighted it has come true. Maybe someday I will teach fermenting or something around the garden, but that time is not here yet. Definitely something I’d consider though. Got to be comfortable wearing many hats to make ends meet out here 🙂

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  5. Pingback: A Swan’s Eye View Of My Home | The Aran Artisan


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  7. Roz Hill says:

    Hi Melissa, Phil keeps telling me to wait too! He is trying to keep one step ahead making raised beds. But my seeds arrived yesterday and this last weekend was forecast a warm spell. Then Sunday it rained so Phil couldn’t get to the beds and this morning we’ve had a frost. I spent all day in the poly re organising shelving , but couldn’t resist sowing a bit of this and that and covering with fleece. My neighbour dropped me off a propagator . I have never used one, it will have to go back as our batteries will not cope with the power needed.
    Next job will be to sort the little greenhouse, we may try to heat that somehow. Last year I filled it with grow bags and toms. 💜💚💛❤️💙
    Good to read what you are up to. Phil said your tree may be birch, I wondered if it was one of your Sally rods. Either way , he said you could easily dig it up and replant it. Is that the only reason you want to move your tunnel? Big job? Big hugs Roz

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have a nice sunny south facing window and am going to put some seed trays of a few toms and peppers in and see if we can maybe get some June fruit out of them. Otherwise I’ll just hold off. We don’t have a propagator and no electricity to our tunnel either. Am happy to go without for now. Would like to not add on any gardening expense, would be nice to avoid adding a propagator. New thinking for me as I always have liked all the gadgets, but trying to simplify and see what we can do without.
      Our tree is def not willow. Probably Phil is correct about it being a birch as many others have said so too who have seen it in person. We were worried about killing it by digging it out, trees are so precious here on the island, as they are scarce. We would be willing to try though. The thought of moving the tunnel came about before the tree arrived because we thought it would be better further away from the house for aesthetics mostly. Now that we have been introduced to permaculture we think it may be better to keep it where it is as we visit it so often and winter treks to the back field for veg would be just miserable. Honestly, the thought to reconsider didn’t come about until I read your comment aloud to Johnny. That led to a fifteen minute conversation then a trip outside to continue discussing with the visual. We are not going to move it after all.
      I will have to research moving of the tree when it gets warm enough to not shock it. Discovering permaculture has completely changed our plans for garden design. Soooo much to learn but having so much fun doing so.
      No harm that you sowed a few things this early. You never can predict the weather, a warm spell could come along and it could be the best thing you did, right? And then again, if not and they don’t survive, seeds are cheap enough, you still have future sowings to count on, and you got to get your hands in the dirt in early March!!


      • Roz Hill says:

        Thanks for lengthy feedback, good luck with toms and peppers on the window. Also with the tree. Lots to think about, we have planted hundreds of trees, but not on your soil amongs so many rocks so I hope it moves ok. 💛



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