Monday, August 10, 2015

Herb Bouquet

I got a wonderful surprise today of this gorgeous scented herb bouquet that my auntie created using lavender, sage, rosemary and thyme from her garden. The smell would knock you to heaven and back. It is a perfect example of how interesting foliage and beautiful smell leaves no necessity for masses of colour. Another bonus is that the herbs retain their smell, form and culinary use as they dry out. I didn't have a vase so I upcycled a plastic water bottle using some ribbon and I think it looks fitting.

Best enjoyed up close.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

My Garden: 8th August 2015

I am currently on two week's holidays from work so I am trying to do a few jobs in the garden as well as just enjoying being out there doing nothing. Although we've had some nice days, this July has been quite wet and cold at times. It shows in the tomato plants which are all fruiting but not a speck of ripening. From a distance I thought one tomato was starting to blush red but on closer inspection it turned out to be a bit of scab. Sigh.  

My jalapeno plant is flowering its delicate white blooms and you can see a tiny pepper just beginning to form. Last year I got a few small peppers so hopefully I'll do better this year:

My courgette plant was fruiting nicely then seemed to be having some trouble. The flowers were falling off while still tiny, resulting in no fruits, and some leaves were dying off. I cut off the brown leaves and gave it some tomato feed and it seems to have come back to life. I wonder if the excessive wet weather is to blame. The plant needs a lot of water but I think the leaves might prefer to stay dry:

I am growing Indigo Rose tomatoes for the first time this year. The rich black colour deceives you into thinking that the tomato is ripe but it will have to change to a reddish/purple colour before it is ready to eat:

My lavender is flowering but I only get specks of purple with this little white feathery cap on top. I don't know if it is simply because of the variety or if something is lacking. It smells gorgeous but I'd love to get full purple blooms. Please leave a comment if you have any advice for me.

*Edit* I found the original pot that the lavender came in (now housing an Aloe Vera on my kitchen window) and can see that the variety is 'White Spirit' so it is supposed to look like that. I've added in two little plants that I was given by my aunt and they are the standard purple variety, so I should have a nice mix in time.

I planted beetroot in a container near the back door to use for salad leaves and they are doing nicely with a few bonus slug holes. I used soil from the garden, which isn't recommended for container planting, so I'm glad they are pulling along:

I should really get my purple sprouting broccoli in the ground. I have a few plants but this is the healthiest:

Brussels sprouts need to be moved on also:

I have some borlotti beans in a window box. They are planted later than most bean varieties so hopefully I'll get some lovely pink and white beans later in the year. I love the colour of the leaves:

And lastly, I have moved lupins that I grew from seed into individual pots. I won't get flowers until next year but the foliage is decorative enough for me at the moment:

That's it for today. Happy gardening.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Happy World Breastfeeding Week

Our first brelfie!

I've always had great experiences nursing in public and conversing about it, even now that my son is almost two years old, but it is still glaringly obvious how low the numbers of Irish breast fed babies are, particularly beyond the first few weeks of age. Instead of placing the blame on the mother, it is important to acknowledge where the problem begins, and that is in the lack of education and awareness about the realities of breastfeeding. 

When I was pregnant, a question I was often asked was if I was going to breastfeed. When I said yes, almost everybody told me a negative story, whether it was about their own experience or of someone they knew. That breastfeeding was extremely painful was the most common complaint but the other common denominator was that none of the mothers were prepared before the birth, but had "hoped" to breastfeed. Of course, when your baby is unsettled and seems to be at the breast constantly, if you don't know that this is normal infant behaviour, who could blame a mother for availing of the free bottles of formula that are handed around without question in the maternity ward? After all, she has probably been misinformed that she does not have enough milk.

I think we can all agree that feeding the baby is probably top priority when it comes to the list of jobs that comes with caring for a newborn. I suggest that on your first maternity visit to the doctors, a straightforward fact sheet about breastfeeding should be given to every mother-to-be. This fact sheet should highlight the mechanics of breastfeeding (supply and demand, correct positioning and latching), realities of breastfeeding (cluster feeding, frequent feeds, length of feeds) and the benefits of breastfeeding (reduced infection/allergies/obesity/SIDS in infants, reduced breast and overian cancer/post natal depression in mothers and it also helps your uterus return to normal size more quickly). 

Currently most references made to breastfeeding in the media are either to preface a baby formula advert or some hysterical story about a mother who nurses an older child. It's time to start treating breastfeeding as a basic, essential part of a child's life rather than as a lifestyle choice.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My Garden: 29th July 2015

Today I harvested my garlic. The bulbs on the right are the Solent variety and the reddish ones are from a bulb I saved from 2014's crop (variety forgotten by me). I shed a silent tear for the three [expensive] bulbs of seed garlic that got misplaced in the house (ahem thrown out by my lesser half I suspect) and that never made it into the ground. I should have had a bumper crop!

I used one whole head of Solent to make today's dinner of bean enchiladas. Here are some leftovers packed for tomorrow's lunch and looking nicely layered on a bed of rice and peas, baby salad leaves and coleslaw with a few cherry tomatoes thrown in.

Remind me to do a post on the bean enchiladas some time....

If you follow me on Facebook you might have seen this happy face greeting you good morning earlier in the week. My sunflower is about four feet tall. It is wondrous how such a show stopping plant can be so low maintenance and easy to grow. Right now I make a pledge to grow at least twenty next year! Although I said that about leeks last year and I don't have a single one...

This pretty in pink lady is Phlox. I have taken cuttings from the little plants that sprout up around the mother plant and they are coming on nicely in their pots (real size about 8 inches - sorry about the bad quality, just took them in the kitchen as it is night time):

My tomato plants have a nice amount of immature fruits but they are ripening at a painfully slow pace and in my impatience I have removed three almost ripe Indigo Rose tomatoes and am trying to force them to edible stage inside a brown envelope on my sunny kitchen window. Come on come on!!

That's all folks.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

"Weeds" Are Beautiful

With the recent heat and rain, the garden is claiming back its wild areas. This morning as I was pottering and poking around, I was amazed at the range of pretty little flowers that are growing naturally. I love the way they grow out of cracks and corners, while your expensive purchased plants fail to thrive. I've tried to get the correct names for them all.

Veronica persica (Speedwell)

Delicate little blue and white flowers brighten up this patch of green foliage. These hardy flowers have erupted from behind a piece of wood.

This patch of wild flowers has emerged from the corner of my onion patch. I don't think the photo does it justice but in the flesh it really is so pretty with tiny red, white and blue blooms and an array of different leaf shapes and heights.

Prunella vulgaris (Selfheal) adds a dash of purple:

I think this creeping tall pink flower is Stachys officinalis (Betony):

The humble Bellis perennis (Daisy) is so widespread that it is easy to stop appreciating just how beautiful this flower, with its vivid yellow centre and brilliant white petals, is.

Here we have some Trifolium repens (white clover) and Ranunculus repens (creeping buttercup) hanging out together:

This persistent pink flower, Geranium robertianum (Herb Robert) grows out of cracks in the paving, the roof shoots and here out of a disused barbecue:

And lastly, these precious little red/peach flowers are Anagallis arvensis (Scarlet Pimpernel):

So don't be too quick with a hoe and let your garden surprise you with its native wildflowers.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My Garden: 7th July 2015

I picked up a Phlox plant at a sale back in March. The variety wasn't labeled but as it is becoming a tall plant, I am assuming it is the common variety Phlox Paniculata. Mine has yet to flower but when it does I imagine [hope] it will look something like this:

Phlox Paniculata.jpg
"Phlox Paniculata" by Atilin - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Mine is looking much more under-whelming at the moment, but still healthy:

Flower buds are starting to appear. I am afraid to put it in the ground incase my rabbit eats it.

Lots of little plants have sprung up around mother plant so today I have taken cuttings and potted them on. I cut away the baby plants trying to preserve some roots and have planted them in pots of seed compost. Some of the cuttings had no roots attached so remembering something I read somewhere on the Internet, I applied honey to the cut end, to act as a natural rooting hormone. We'll see about that! I stripped off the lower leaves and covered the pot with a plastic bag.

They are sitting in my greenhouse at the moment. Tomorrow I think I'll cut a corner off the bags as the conditions might be too humid. I will know they have rooted when there is new growth but I suppose if they aren't limp looking in a week's time, things are looking good.