Ugly Looking Cactus

Cactus, unknown variety. Apricot / orange flower

This might look like an ugly fecker, but it’s definitely not. It flowered during June, July and August and the tiny flowers were the most beautiful light orange / apricot. There were approximately ten flowers at any given time, each one a tiny 5mm across. It’s a cactus, but I don’t know the variety.

My new Tamron camera lens arrived from Hong Kong today, having been delayed while Irish Customs took a peek at it. Michael Moonan’s civil servants calculated the duty at €33.00, and I’m happy to be contributing a little bit to his pre-budget coffers. Why? Because, I had purchased the item on eBay at approx 40% of Irish retail price, and even well below best price on Done Deal new or second hand. I had been looking for something like this for the past few months, and now that it’s arrived, I’ll be hoping for some nice close up shots. Stay tuned.

Tamron AF70-300 F4/5.6 Di LD Macro 1:2

I don’t really understand all the numbers, but it does what I want.

Pádraig, 29th September 2016.

Alyssum: Easy Seed Saving

I love growing from seed. So do many people. Browsing the garden centre, supermarket or catalogues for brightly-coloured seed packets is good fun, and even greater fun when the seeds actually germinate and grow fully.
This week, following some good advice on Garden Tags (my mobile app for updating my garden and sharing stories with other keen growers), I started the process of saving seeds from plants already in place. I started with Alyssum “Golden Ball” and it was thrilling. I had noticed that the seedheads were just ready. Flowering had finished about three weeks ago, and the beautiful brown seeds would surely scatter in the wind within a short while. They looked very much like linseed that I put on my Flahavan’s porridge for breakfast.
What you need:
  • large container
  • scissors
  • small container or envelope
These seeds are so easy to save. I cut large clumps from the plant, and in the process gave it a good “haircut”. This in  itself is necessary to prepare the plant for winter and better flowering next year. I held the clumps upside-down over a plastic bucket, and shook them vigorously. Lo and begold, the seeds fell and with them only a little chaff. Alternatively, it works well if you put them into a lettuce leaf “dryer”, and twist for 30 seconds. The seeds will fall through the grill, but the rest will not. After about ten minutes sifting out, I was left with only good ripe seed. I did need to remove some seeds that were not fully ripe, but the task was easy as most were just right. I have stored them in a small sealed plastic container, and will be planting them after Christmas in the propagator.
This was used for screws & nails; now it’s for seeds
By my reckoning I’ve got about 200 seeds from one plant. I’ll likely grow them on and will only be able to keep five or ten in my small garden. What will I do with the rest? I’m a member of a seed-swap group, so I’ll be on the look out for members who have seeds that I’d like to get. It’s a win-win situation.
I’d be happy to share these seeds in return for a chicken or even a few heads of broccoli. Better still, I’d opt for a nice plant (seeds or cuttings) from someone’s garden Or, I’d be happy to grow a dozen for someone who would appreciate them. Cost will be just what it costs me for a bit of compost and pots, labels & tlc. No online ordering system in place, coz the banks would pluck most of the profits, so anyone who wants these plants, just get in touch. For me the fun is in the challenge of growing seeds. I’m not looking to be rich in the process. Not rich in money, but definitely rich in therapeutic satisfaction.

What else can be saved from seed now? Lots of plants really. I’m trying wallflower, aubretia, marigold and sweet pea. Happy seed-saving if you decide to try. And if you’re an ultra-keen gardener do take a look at the Garden Tags app.

Pádraig, 28th September 2016.

Rain Is Nature’s Magic

It’s bucketing down. Not a day to be outside in the garden, but it occurs to me that rain is nature’s magic at work. It’s my magic time also, to sit comfortably inside and realise that the work is being done for me!
Tips to add to the moment:
  • Read the gardening supplement in the Saturday Telegraph
  • Read this week’s issue of Amateur Gardening magazine
  • Add a spoon of brandy to a cup of good coffee
  • Put it all together on a blog to keep the memory

I wrote about some heavy rain a few weeks ago (also on Saturday!) at that time, I opted for a different strategy. Remember the day? There was just a little heavy rain. today there was a lot of heavy rain. If I had to cycle, it would be called poxy rain, but for the garden it’s da bomb.

Pádraig, 24th September 2016.

Take Rosemary Cuttings To Freeze

It’s a good time of the year to take rosemary cuttings. They add flavour to so many dishes.

Step 1: Take as many cuttings as you want. Use the top 6 – 10cm of each stem.
Step 2: Rinse lightly.
Step 3: Cut finely directly into an ice-cube tray.
Step 4; Drizzle over with some olive oil
Step 5: Fill with water & freeze.

Take cuttings every few weeks, preferably early in the morning. Enjoy during the off-season.

Of course, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. Here’s an alternative method. (Thanks to Robin  from Robin’s Kitchen)

Pádraig, 19th September 2016.

Lady Rozanne in Blue

17th September 2016

While many summer plants are very much past their best, the gorgeous Geranium Rozanne is flowering still.

The fuchsia is losing lower leaves and while the patio containers are looking good with unusual combination of Busy Lizzie and Sweet Peas, it’s Rozanne that steals the show this week.

Geranium Rozanne is one of the top plants recommended by the RHS, and is merited with many awards.

Pádraig, 17th September 2016.

Four Things You Will Learn About Onions

The onions are safely stored for later in the autumn. We can look forward to stews, shepherd’s pies and roast mixed vegetables (not all together) during October until Christmas. Yum, yum.

August 3rd: Growing away grand

Starting back in mid-April, I sowed a bag of sets (approx 100) on the raised vegetable bed nearest the shed. The summer was kind to them and so was I. Being raised helped me greatly to keep them weed-free, and I tended them according to the instructions together with some experience. Watering and feeding were kept up regularly. In fact, the area had been well-fertilised last winter and that helped greatly too.

August 30th: Lifted and ready for drying in glasshouse

I watched and waited patiently towards the latter half of August, and whipped them out at just the right time. I laid them to dry on newspaper (the Examiner) in the glasshouse, and when I checked today it was clear that the stems (are they stems?) had dried sufficiently to direct me to the final step. I plaited them in bunches, tied with string, and hung them in the cool darker section of the shed.

September 13th: Tied and ready to be stored

It has been my first year doing onions for quite a while, perhaps ten years ago. Job done now, and done well. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Variety: Unknown
Planted: April
Lifted: August 30th
Stored: September 13th
Quality: Very good

Now for my personal slant on onions:

Felt the urge (I did, yes) to go looking for some funny onion stuff on the web, followed by some deep onion stuff: Here are four important things to know about onions, together with a picture here and there to keep me entertained:

Finally, to get some balance, here’s two thoughts of a different slant:

  • (2) If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. (Cicero) I took some time to get a picture of that into my head…
Cicero was right
  • (3) Bit by bit, Dr. Driscoll helped me to peel away the layers of protection I had built up over the years. The process was not that unlike the peeling of an onion, which also makes us cry. It has been a painful journey, and I don’t now when it will end, when I can say, “OK, it’s over.” Maybe never. Maybe sooner than I know. I recently told Dr. Driscoll that I feel the beginnings of feeling OK, that this is the right path. ― Charles L. Bailey Jr.In the Shadow of the Cross (At the tender age of ten, Bailey became a victim of continuous sexual abuse by his family’s Roman Catholic priest.) Amazon link
Note for next year:

  • Use bed 1
  • Plant three packets, as opposed  to one this year. I had bought two, but did not have enough room & wasn’t organised to plant the second
  • Have a look around to see if there’s any onion that could be sown in late summer / autumn to be ready for early summer?

Pádraig, 13th September 2016.


I have a few new fuchsias to add to the collection.

1. Fuchsia Mrs. Popple, (x2) probably one of the most popular. I planted them temporarily on one of the vegetable beds, to be planted in position during the autumn.
Mrs Popple’ is a vigorous upright shrub with small, dark green leaves. Flowers single, with bright red sepals and tube and violet-purple petals, as described on the RHS website. Here’s the link.

2. Fuchsia “Genii”. Again, I planted this temporarily on one of the vegetable beds, to be planted in position during the autumn.

Description on the RHS site: Genii’ is an erect medium-sized deciduous shrub with yellow-green foliage. Flowers single, small, with narrow, up-curved cerise sepals, slender cerise tube and reddish-purple petals. Here’s the link.
I took cuttings from an established Mrs. Popple recently, and will likely repeat in a few weeks, together with “Genii”
Pádraig, 3rd September 2016.

A Little Heavy Rain

It’s been a good summer. Warm and dry, mostly. Today is different, though. We got 15mm of rain overnight, so I’ll not need to be watering for a while. That said, even in the heavy rain, I planted 3 recently purchased fuchsias in a temporary spot before final position later in autumn.
And with that, I returned to the dry shed to potter about, listen to the radio, and write this blog, all the while catching up with messages & texts. Might mention multitasking male, methinks. Multitasking seems best undertaken while seated.

Multitasking male

Pádraig, 3rd September, 2016.