Tag Archives: garden

Music To Our Ears

For the first time in months, there’s finally been enough rainfall to generate more than a wee trickle from the natural well that feeds our duck pond. Now that there’s a bit of water to spare, we can refill bins for watering the rest of the garden also. Yesterday’s rain was perfect. It started out light enough that the crumbly topsoil could well absorb it. This allowed the following hours of downpouring rain to infiltrate the soil deeply rather than just running off the earth’s surface, down to the sea.

Parts of Ireland have been experiencing a drought for the past few months. Here on the Aran Islands, we rely on rainfall to fill the tanks which provide household water. Since it hasn’t been raining and the supplies are so low, the water has been shut off in the evenings for a few weeks now. The thinking behind this decision is to ration water and also to stop any water waste that may be occurring from possible leaks in the lines.

When I walked out my front door last evening, it was both gratifying and magical to hear the rushing water added to the symphony of birdsong and rustling leaves played by nature.

Cheers, Melissa Xx

 

 “Nature’s music is never over; her silences are pauses, not conclusions.”     Mary Webb

March of The Weeds

DSC_0288~2It’s March and the noticeably longer days tease my gardening impulsiveness. I want to get on with the business of growing outside. The erratic weather can’t be ignored, though, and rather than transplant out I’ll have to pot up- that is, move plants to larger containers- and keep them under cover a bit longer. Rather than sow root vegetable seeds, I’ll lay more ground warming cover after spreading compost or leaf mulch.

And I’ll weed.

There’s always weeding to be done, though more so this time of year because it’s spring and that’s when weeds spring up and multiply with great abandon on every patch of bare soil.

I rarely go out with the purpose of just weeding. Instead, it gets done regularly but a bit at a time. I’m usually grabbing weeds from here and there at my discretion as I’m tending to other garden needs in the same area. Spring weeding is a bit more intentional than that- it’s part of the plan for the day, on a mental list of things to be done deliberately, sooner than later.

Fortunately, weeding the garden is a favourite task of mine. I find that the point of view from crouched down on all fours is a great way to get the lay of the land and to gain a true perspective of a garden’s whereabouts.

While growing up in Maine, I was the primary weeder in the family plot and I remember enjoying it lots. Our vegetable garden was behind my Memere’s house. It was a nice open space with tall lilac bushes lining one side and there was a pretty spectacular weeping willow in the front yard. Summers were very hot and I have the most vivid memories of taking off my shirt and pulling weeds wearing only my shorts. At age nine or so, and with no explanation that made sense at the time, my mother told me to put my shirt back on and I shouldn’t be taking it off anymore. I remember feeling like something had gone astray. Now I suppose she was trying to teach me modesty.

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On our smallholding, I’ve taken responsibility for the weeding– Johnny never has to worry about it, just like I never have to worry about the chicken coop being cleaned out and their bedding relined and their feed buckets refilled.

So long as we’re all happy, nothing’s being neglected and everyone’s keeping their shirt on, it’s all good.

Wishful thinking

After working extra hard to shed its seed coat, this one’s likely going to produce the biggest melons of the lot.

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The truth is it could probably go either way. Maybe it isn’t gaining strength; perhaps it’s actually falling behind the others. As far as I know, there’s no scientific research to back up either thought. I’ve been known to interfere and remove the seed coat from peppers. Their first leaves are much smaller (weaker?) than the melons in comparison to its seed coat and my gut instinct was that there would be a struggle to shed it themselves. I’ll give this melon another day and if it busts out, then I’m thinking it will be stronger, and if it takes any longer it probably needs my help and there goes my gut theory.

I’ve seen this scenario dozens of times, if not more, and have never really contemplated it until now. Oh, the power of a photograph to get one’s mind wondering! Thank you, Sandra and Cathy for this fun and inspiring weekly challenge.

Making a comfortable living from a small piece of land

As the word smallholding implies, we do what we do to support our family through a combination of cash crops and subsistence farming. We do all the work ourselves between the jigs and reels of raising a family and various other obligations and distractions. There’s no design laid out before us. Instead, season to season over the past several years we figure bits out and do it, always incorporating two essential qualities. The first and most important for us is to provide food for our family. The second is to do so while designing a modest, simple and functional area where others can discover that it’s possible to create their own supermarket on just one acre. We may not be making our entire income from it yet, but day by day and year to year we get that much closer.

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Three new outside beds were added to the garden in the last week. All three are at the north end of the polytunnel, one is actually an addition to the artichoke bed. We also divided the artichoke plants to double the amount we now have and there’s still room for plenty more.

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Hello, Monday Morning

 

We kicked off spring with a marathon weekend in the garden. Weeded, tidied, ground cover on, stones moved, some seeds planted.

Johnny and the boys finished removing the creig from one of the new tunnel beds; loads of work but we get needed depth and stones to use elsewhere in the garden.

My hands are sore from wild blackberry thorns, fingernails look unrecognizable, whole body is aching, and pulled a muscle in my bum from a running slip while racing the rain to get laundry off the line, but feeling accomplished and happy, happy! 

Have a wonderful Monday everyone, Melissa Xx

p.s. Daisy duck was no help at all, only poking her head up to see was I bringing her food or something like that, but we love her no matter.

 

What Winter?

Instead of the cold blustery gales of wind and rain that makes one not want to get out of pyjamas all day, it’s been more like spring than winter and we’ve been both working and growing in the garden the entire season.

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Garden photographs are quickly outdated by growing plants and newly built beds.

There’s a lot going on in the picture above: raised beds have been added in between the corn and pumpkin plots–rocket, beetroot, lettuce and winter garlic are growing in four of the beds. Stone paths are made after all soil is removed and sifted; soil in beds, stones back into the path. Long, narrow grow boxes are being placed along both sides of the pallet fences to help stabilize them and add grow space. A half pallet retaining wall is being fitted against the corn field. A lot of labour and nearly all Johnny’s doing. Continue reading

“If you don’t build your own dream, someone will hire you to build theirs”

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Before shot #2

september-2016-before-shotThe above picture is an update on my Sept 22nd Instagram ‘before shot’ (left) that I thought some of you here might like to follow the progress of.  We’re determined to move leaps and bounds this autumn and winter towards our goal of making a business out of our gardens, therefore fulfilling our dream of working together full time and no longer working out of the home for other people. Continue reading

What’s cooking good looking?

This time of year sees me in the kitchen slightly more than the garden.  My intention is always to produce food that is good for us, tastes amazing, and makes us feel good from the inside out.  Here are a few things I’ve created during this last month…

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I’m feeling these are my best fermented eggs ever. I added in some nice pickling spices this time including coriander & mustard seeds, ginger, chilies, cloves, bay leaves, allspice, juniper berries, peppercorns, and cassia (which has an amazingly cinnamon-like flavour). They’re both sweet & sour at the same time and super nutritious & delicious. The carrots and onions give some needed natural sugars but add so much more than that to the finished product. 😍 Wish I could let you all have a taste!   Continue reading

August’s Garden

August is over so it seems time to get my backside in gear and post a few of the many photos I took around the garden throughout the month…

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The L, O, & E beds are in view, but the V bed is cropped out at bottom of photo but the photo above it has an excellent angle of it. Yes, they spell L O V E!

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