Cheering Up My Mondays

It has been a stunning summer in Ireland, the best since 1976 I’m told. We Irish are generally unused to dining al fresco, yet I have eaten breakfast at one of the two sitting spots most mornings since early June, and dinner too. Of course, the garden is not just for eating! I have sat contentedly overlooking the splendour of my labours, and spent time planning plans in my head for next year. However, it’s important to seize the diem and to enjoy the wonderful weather just as it is right now. During the very very wet winter (which lasted right through to the middle of May!), I had scattered rose feed on the gravel, and repeated the dusty dose again in April. The rain washed all the nutrients down in its own time, and the results have been remarkable. More buds, bigger blooms, healthier plants. I am very pleased with my work!

The loveliest of the five is Rosa Just Joey. The strong fragrance of this rose reaches the kitchen, 15 metres away, whenever there is a gentle breeze. It is called “Just Joey”, and the full details of the plant are available on my Shoot Gardening page

Rosa Just Joey

Now that I look at this photograph, it strikes me that I very likely will take more very soon, and get in even closer. It might be good to add the new ones to this post soon.

Ah that’s better! Rosa Just Joey

Recent headlines from my garden:

  • Thousands of tomatoes already eaten and frozen
  • Dahlias are magic
  • The 50 gladioli were beautiful but short-lived
  • My current favourite plant is Begonia. (many varieties)
  • Onions are stored
  • The late-evening suntrap area has got great use this year
  • I was able to bypass the hosepipe ban very effectively
Deep in a good book, surrounded by colour
About the author: Pádraig is the author of GrowWriteRepeat. He has a previous history of garden writing back in 2017, and now he is back smelling the roses once again. Unconnected with this, he has nicknamed his bicycle “Gilhaney”, but that’s a story for another day.

Cheering Up My Monday #5

It’s Monday again, so time for some cheering up. The good thing is that I’m easily cheered up. It only takes one or two little things. In particular, noticing the little things around the garden while my porridge is undergoing microwave-therapy is enough to get my week off to a good start.

But first, by way of housekeeping, I’m noticing that by reading a wide variety of garden blogs I’m loving all the ideas that come my way, so thank you all for sharing your garden world. Recently, I came across a lovely cycling blog where the author wriites a very short bit after the article along the lines of “Paraig is the author of Petals by Paraig”. He does this at the end of each post, but the interesting thing is that he then adds a sentence that links in with the post. This sentence changes for every post. I’m going to try it. If you like, just jump to the end, but don’t forget to return up here. As the weeks and months pass by it is very likely that I’ll have summarised myself so much that I’ll know everything there is to know about ME!

In recent months, I’ve begun collecting three unusual household items. Yes, many of us are collectors. We can be heard saying “Gosh, that would be great in the garden!”, or on the other side of the coin, “Don’t ask me why. It’s for the GARDEN!” In my case, the comments in my household have veered towards the latter.

Let me explain my little idiosyncrasy. We light a stove here from mid-October until April. We burn turf, timber and sometimes coal together with documents that need to disappear. I’m the ash cleaner and fire-manager. I had been disposing of this ash in the rubbish (ok, garbage) bin, but realised I was throwing out a valuable soil enricher. Subsequently, I’ve added two other ingredients to the mix: used tea-bags and eggshells. Ours is a big tea-house, and our egg-quota for any given week is almost a dozen. Now and then a small amount of other items are added as they come to hand, for example small twigs, dead-headed pansies and useless Crystal Palace FC match reports, shredded for effect. These items add texture to the fine fire dust.

On a daily basis, this mix is stored in a large container in the shed. Back in early November, as soon as I’d collected a decent amount of all three, I set to work, churning up this mix with used peat moss, and a small amount of sand/gravel. The result was amazing. November was a good time to do this because the vegetable patch was emptying, so I loosened the soil, added generous quantities of this household-waste mix and worked it in. Now, there’s another load ready.

I do have some questions, however, and perhaps it’s a bit late to ask. Has anyone tried this or something similar? Is there any disadvantage to doing this? Are there any other ingredients that might make the recipe better? I did think about the hygiene implications of storing eggshells but soon overcome any phobias by ensuring that they are reasonably clean (I love my boiled egg, and am thorough in getting out the last little bits) and then store them by crushing them gently before mixing with the previous day’s fire ash. If anyone has further light to shed on this strange activity, please share in comments.

Last autumn I had built some HOTELS for beneficial insects, and now this soil-enricher really is going to make a further big difference during the year ahead. Let the growing season begin!

Finally, I’m trying to come up with a name for this unusual mix. As yet, I’m at a loss, but there’s no rush. Any little hints from readers will be safely stored on the back-burner for later consideration.

For the record here are the ingredients;

  • fire ash
  • tea-bags
  • eggshells
  • potting compost
  • used compost
  • sand/gravel
  • other small bits and pieces as available, just to keep the original recipe fresh and ever-so-slightly-changing

Happy gardening,

About the author: Páraig is the author of Petals by Paraig. He is sometimes noted for unusual hoarding habits and recently has taken to collecting eggshells and teabags. Paraig is a lifelong Crystal Palace fan. Twitter and Instagram @petalsbyparaig