Tomato Workaround

It’s October already. Seize the moment, my friends. Yesterday I figured out that because of all the seed packets I ordered, I’d need more shelving. Without further ado I ordered blocks and timber, and both were delivered a few hours later.

The tomatoes are still producing, so I needed to build around them, and I’m almost finished. There’s another shelf to be constructed tomorrow. Seven tomatoes needed to be eaten during the construction process. All the seeds to be grown here between now and spring will be very cozy!

Here’s the video from YouTube

Never Enough Shelving

I’m participating in an Instagram challenge called My Garden This Month. The idea is to post something each day according to a given prompt. The link is here. If you’re an IG user, do consider joining in using the hashtag #mygardenthismonth

Storm Alex is arriving from France over the weekend. I am reminded of my reaction in October 2018. The scouts taught me to “Bí Ullamh”. In the case of this one, it may not be severe as Met Éireann have issued no weather warnings. That could change.

Pádraig,

1st October 2020.

Six on Saturday – Cut and Change

I’m going to cut to the chase, without further ado. Pronto, as it were. There will be no dilly-dallying or beating about the bush. I shall abandon the preliminaries and get stuck in immediately, foregoing the unnecessary preambles, because I’m eager to cut corners in order to get to the nub of the matter. Simply put, it’s the last weekend of August. It’s time for me to start making baby plants from cuttings. I’m cutting corners (twice) and layers of red tape to bring you my Six this Saturday. There are thirty cuttings and five rooted seedlings below. That’s thirty-five. Triocha-cúig.

1 and 2: Lavender & Fuchsia

I was kindly asked to stop using peat-based compost recently, and I gave the matter some thought. Not much thought, but enough. I rummaged in the shed to find that I already have an organic peat-free bag hiding behind the other ones, so I used it, mixed with some sand, to pot up some fuchsia and lavender cuttings.

9 Lavender & 6 Fuchsia

There is a growing trend (yes, a growing trend) to move away from using peat. I had known about it from my work in the local garden centre last year, yet it sometimes takes a little kick up the ar backside to make change happen. Likely, it may be a bit too nutritious, so I’m wondering is there a peat-free product specifically for cuttings and/or seed-sowing? I’m sure there is. I love answering my own question! I’m sure others reading this may also love answering my question.  I am learning so much from other gardeners and I’m happy to be more enlightened.

3. Hebe ‘Rhubarb and Custard’

I wrote about this only a dew days ago, and I’m not in the habit of repeating myself so go check it out here. The comments section highlights the gentle kick up the backside mentioned above.

Nine Hebe Rhubarb & Custard

4. Skimmia ‘Temptation’

I notice that some of the leaves of this (gift from my daughter for Christmas 2018) are cut. It’s not unusual to cut large leaves when taking cuttings. There’s a very good reason for it.

3 Skimmia

5. Leucothoe ‘Red Lips’

The common name has me smiling! It’s called Dog Hobble. Smiling is good as it helps exercise many facial muscles that simply do not get moving while sulking. Dog Hobble Red Lips. Again, I decided to snip the leaves horizontally for the same very good reason as above.

3 Dog Hobble

6. Helleborus

This one is not a cutting, but rather a few small rooted seedlings that had grown beneath the parent plant. It’s a plant that I really like. There’s an interesting story I’d like to share about this parent plant.

5 Hellebores
In 2018 we noticed that it was  being ravaged by whitefly after flowering. I wanted to deal with the blighters privately and Marion wanted the plant snipped to ground level, but I objected strongly. I returned home one fine day to find that it had been given a haircut. Number one. Later, peace was restored when I discovered that there were little seedlings seeding beneath. My wife is always right. I must write that seventy times. 

Other News

  • Storm Francis brought lots more rain last Monday night and very blustery winds on Tuesday. Very strangely, there were a few hours of lovely gardening weather in between. No damage this time. Sadly though, I got word that our friends in Santa Cruz have had to evacuate their home because of the raging fires there.
  • America has had very severe problems. Ireland had Golfgate. Both are horrific.
  • Our new Budda is in situ and I rub his belly every few days. It seems that lots of rain follows.

Get involved…

Has anyone got tips or tricks about taking plant cuttings? Or perhaps advice about what has worked or failed? Do please share. I am more than happy to get as good as I give.

That’s my lot for this week, a cháirde. I’ll be back with more an Satharn seo chugainn. In the meantime, please visit Mr. Propagator’s garden blog where you can find many more Six on Saturday offerings from around the world, together with details of how to participate if that’s your thing. I hope you have a great week, be it in the garden, the potting shed or elsewhere. Slán go fóill.

About the Author: Pádraig is the author of GrowWriteRepeat. He loves cutting plants, baby seedlings and Dog Hobble. He also loves the Buddha’s big belly, but not storms in August. More about him here.

Pádraig,

29th August 2020.

Six on Saturday – Fake Mexicans & Clever Italians

There is a distinctly beginning-of-Autumn feel about my garden as the fourth Saturday of August rolls along. There’s also a distinctly scary feel as the Coronavirus pandemic continues, regardless of the approach of the changing season. I’ve been reading about the history of pandemics and it’s very grim. As a species we are vulnerable. This time around, we have the benefit of science, but many refuse to heed advice. It’s a sort of Superman Syndrome, I fear.

My Six this week features four of my top ten plants that regularly do well in my garden. Included also is some information about Storm Ellen, blue pollen, enlarged testicles and clever Italians. To be clear, all are unconnected.

1&2 Fuchsia

Discovered in Haiti, Fuchsias are named after a German botanist, while some originate from New Zealand. All have the particularity of having blue pollen. This pollen was used by young Maori people to adorn their face, probably well before the official discovery of the genus. The plant is not known to have any medicinal uses. It’s just there to brighten up our lives, especially during pandemic times. The Smallpox Pandemic ravaged Europe on and off for centuries, but when it was brought to the Americas it killed up to 90-95% of the population in just a century. Smallpox was the first Pandemic to be completely ended by a vaccine.

“We’ll have a vaccine. Very soon. Very soon”, the Mexican fella said.

Fake News: He wasn’t Mexican.

Here’s a lighter brighter one.

Speaking of lighter… Have you heard the latest?

Maori 1: Will we put on the blue stuff?
M2: No, wait awhile. It hasn't been discovered yet.
M1: Righteo. Kakai.

3. Heuchera Binoche

Native American people used some Heuchera (Alumroot) species medicinally. The Tlingit native Indians used Heuchera glabra as an herbal remedy for inflammation of the testicles caused by syphilis. To the Navajo, Heuchera novamexicana was a panacea and a pain reliever. The Smallpox Pandemic (see above) reduced the population of Mexico from eleven million people to one million.

4. Nasturtium Alaska

I may have included Nasturtiums before, and I’m delighted to do so once again. This is Alaska and I like the flowers and the leaves. During the lockdown months since March so many amateur gardeners started to grow their own food. We know that the flowers of these plants can be eaten, usually in summer salads, and the leaves are a firm favourite with little caterpillars. This was not the case during the Black Death 1347, because this native Central American plant didn’t arrive on the scene until nearly two hundred years later. The Black Death killed an estimated two hundred million people in four years. On a trivial note, its very likely that several ego-maniacal tribal leaders lost power, simply because they thought it would go away. Meanwhile, it was at this time in Venice that the clever Italians had a clever idea:

At first, sailors were held on their ships for 30 days, which became known in Venetian law as a trentino. As time went on, the Venetians increased the forced isolation to 40 days or a quarantino, the origin of the word quarantine and the start of its practice in the Western world.

https://www.history.com/news/pandemics-end-plague-cholera-black-death-smallpox

5&6 Dahlia

Native to Central America, the dahlia was first introduced into Great Britain from Spain in 1798. In Europe and America, prior to the discovery of insulin in 1923, diabetics, as well as consumptives, were often given a substance called Atlantic starch, extracted from dahlia tubers. This knowledge simply was not there during the Plague of Justinian in 521. An estimated half of the population of the known world died. Justinian lost power in a flash. Perhaps he thought it would just go away.

This is a smaller, yet equally beautiful dahlia, loved by the bees and I. It’s hardly worth highlighting that there’s no blue pollen here.

Unseasonal Weather

  • Monday was a washout. There was a passing shower here last Sunday night, but it took 24 hours to pass along to somewhere else.
  • Tuesday was the only decent day for cycling. When I checked on Tuesday morning the roses were a soggy mess, the gladioli were hanging horizontally and even the lettuces looked miserable.
  • On Wednesday night Storm Ellen arrived with severe level-orange winds that blew the entire soggy mess into tidy heaps in several nooks. There was severe damage to the dahlias in particular. The Café au Lait above was levelled.
  • Thursday was wet so we headed for a staycation to Glendalough, home of my friend Kevin, in County Wicklow, known also as the Garden County.
  • Friday was wet again. We visited the National Garden Exhibition to meet old friends. Such a visit needed to me marked with a gardening purchase or two, so we bought a small Acer and a big Budda.

We are an expanding group of gardeners who write. We write about six items in our gardens, and we do it on Saturdays. I’ve been doing this since June and I enjoy nothing more than reading about and seeing other gardens from as far away as Canada, New Zealand, Tasmania, USA and Britain. Lest we forget, hundreds more choose to publish on Twitter and Instagram. We follow the leader Jon and Jon follows us. You can find out more about it here. You may read and follow, or like myself, you may choose to write and follow. Either way, it’s great fun!

I do sincerely hope that no misinformation is circulating as I type. Primarily, I have used History.com as my source. Full article here is worth an eight-minute read.

Pádraig,

Saturday, 22nd August (Lúnasa) 2020

Another Short Days Challenge

I am moving steadily towards the Winter Solstice, and so too is my garden. Here in Dungarvan, it will happen on Friday at 10:22pm. I know because I use timeanddate.com to know things like that, and I know about it because my brother told me about it. Equal day and night occurs, and thereafter the days will get longer. However, I admit that I was perplexed by another set of data. Yesterday at approx 5pm the distance between the Sun and my garden in Dungarvan stood at 147,193,000km. By midnight it had reduced to 147,189,000km. The garden was 4,000km nearer to the source of all life! I was perplexed, as I’ve already mentioned. In fact, as I’ve mentioned it twice now, my level of perplexity is doubled. I needed to go back to some of my school science lessons. This did not help at all. I needed the help of my brother Micheál.

How come the earth is getting closer to the sun, and it’s WINTER?, I asked.

Winter is caused by the tilt of the earth away from the sun, not by the distance from it. Simple science, really, says he.

Today, as I write at 6pm, the distance is reduced by a further 9,000km to 147,180,000km, and most of this movement towards the sun happened while I slept.

It’s now time for my weekly Short Days Challenge summary since last week:
Thursday, December 13th: Today’s winter garden: WET. Continuing #shortdayschallenge as I briefly log winter here in Waterford, Ireland. Time to focus on the little things, such as 38.6mm of rain.

Heavy rain, then more heavy rain

Friday, December 14th: Incredibly, its the front garden. This is its’ debut photo. A winter scene including narcissus tete-a-tete, polyanthus, viola and an ivy. The narcissus is almost in flower. I think it is a display model intended for an indoor window-sill. But I’m not having any of that sort of thing (As Ted & Dougal would say: Down with that sort of thing.)

Front garden debut photo

Saturday, December 15th: Oh the weather outside is frightful, and #stormdeirdre is is on the way, bringing bucketloads of wind and rain. These pretty #kalanchoe (K. blossfeldiana), commonly known as Flaming Katy, are safely tucked up on the kitchen windowsill, and brighten this miserable day.
Continuing #shortdayschallenge as I briefly log winter here in Waterford, Ireland. Time to focus on the little things. The big thing is due after 3pm.

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

Sunday, December 16th: A trapped leaf among the pebbles. It has been there for the past week, standing erect despite the buffeting winds of Storm Deirdre. Also, a single rose petal.

Storm Deirdre couldn’t move this stubborn leaf

Monday, December 17th: The apples are under water. There’s been over 48 hours of constant rain, and the saucer is flooded despite having three small drainage holes. No doubt they are clogged with leaf debris or something other. I’ll have to get the Council out to clear it.

Apples: drowned by Deirdre

Tuesday, December 18th: Since red is the colour of blood, it has historically been associated with sacrifice, danger and courage. Modern surveys in Europe and the United States show red is also the color most commonly associated with heat, activity, passion, sexuality, anger, love and joy. In China, India and many other Asian countries, it is the color of symbolizing happiness and good fortune. (from Wikipedia)
Have you any thoughts on red in the garden? You will, no doubt, be aware of red and green being the traditional colours of Christmas. Note: not white!

Traditional colours of Christmas

Wednesday, December 19th: How is today’s winter garden affected by sunlight? How is it affected by distance from the sun? A close look at both screenshots shows that in 7 hours the distance between the sun and my garden has decreased by approx 4000 kilometres. Thankfully winter solstice is very close and the garden will start to get warmer as the distance narrows further.
Continuing #shortdayschallenge as I briefly log winter here in Waterford, Ireland. Time to focus on the little things. Actually they are huge things, yet the small daily changes may not always be noticed.

147.193 million km just before 5pm
The earth is a fast mover!

Would you like to join in? Simply use the hashtag #shortdayschallenge either on your blog, Facebook or Instagram to connect with many others noticing the little winter things that bring delight to these short days.

Páraig (also known as Pat) is the author of Petals by Paraig. He loves his roses, winter solstice and small plants such as Flaming Katy. He also likes Timeanddate.com and watching the rain from the kitchen, but not when there’s a bucketful (like maybe 36.4mm) during a storm called Deirdre.

Until next week, enjoy the Christmas season.
Paraig

Storm Barbara

The storm has arrived. It’s only our second storm of the winter, and it’s called Storm Barbara. I’ve waited for it. Normally, I’ve attempted to get the latest article online by Wednesday each week. This week is different, though. I’m extra busy, but now that the wind and rain are all around, just two days before Christmas, I’ve taken time out from the busyness to sit and write. Time out from wrapping gifts, endless cycling, tidying my room and preparing sherry trifle while trying out the Baileys cream. There are thirty-seven other jobs that need doing, but right now I want to write during the storm.

No gardening today, but it’s nice to be inside looking out.
Happy Christmas from Dungarvan,
Pádraig, 23rd December 2016.