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St. Patrick’s Day

As you know, this coming weekend is St. Patricks day and if this week’s weather is anything to go by, it should be a good weekend to get out to your plot and get planting. St Patricks day is the traditional day to plant your first early spuds and is usually the first major planting day of the growing year in Ireland.We have a selection of seed potatoes for sale on site should you need to buy them. March is also the perfect time of year to get your onion sets in and we also have these available to buy on site.

There have been huge developments on site over the past two years, and Monday the 10th was out two year anniversary, how time flies. One of our larger projects is of course, our SOW and GROW shop where we sell everything from plug plants to gardening supplies. all the proceeds from these go back into the Epilepsy Care Foundation, so not only are you getting your products, on site and supporting the growing project, you are also helping to give back to the the foundation that has are this whole allotment project possible.

In recent weeks, you may have spotted the large polytunnel on site, just inside the gate, this is where we are propagating all of the plug plants to be sold on site, you are more than welcome to come in and have a look at what’s on offer, also, to bask in the balmy summer-like temperatures on these chilly spring days. These plug plants are not yet on sale due to the cold outdoor temperatures but there is a huge variety of veggies on offer.

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The polytunnel practically overflowing with plug plants

Next week also sees the delivery of a new type of compost on site. Celtic Gold worm cast compost is fantastic quality compost and the only one of it’s type available in Ireland. We have been appointed to sell the product in the North Dublin region not just here on the allotments.

You will find more information on www.celticworm.com. The product will be a little dearer than the normal potting compost on sale on site at €10.

We have also set up a brand spanking new twitter account where we will be keeping you all abreast of what is happening on site, you can find and follow us at  @MalahidePlots

Please come down this weekend and get some spuds in, have a gander around the polytunnel, and enjoy the sunshine (we hope).

Happy St Patricks Day from all at Malahide Allotments and The Epilepsy Care Foundation

January Jobs on the Plot

Fiona’s Blog –  http://fionagrowsfood.com

(I’m over at plot p26, always up for a chinwag so come over and say hi)

It’s dark, it’s cold, there are only a few hours of light a day, it’s wet, it’s barren, the plot is a mess. Sound familiar?

It may be late into winter but it is a new year and the garden season is just about to kick off. Despite the cold and dull weather, there’s a tonne to do in the garden in January before the planting kicks off in a few weeks time.

  • Most importantly, it’s time to get your soil ready for planting. It’s no use planting seeds in terrible cold soil in spring, so spread some well rotted manure or compost on your beds, If you can get seaweed, do it, it’s great for your soil, packed full of nutrients. Cover your beds up with polythene to let the soil heat up for springtime.
  • If you still have winter veggies in the ground, this is the time to harvest them, parsnips and the last of your spuds need to be up in the next two weeks so if you have a glut, get yourself a decent soup recipe (watch this space).
  • It’s a great time of the year to get any infrastructural work completed in your garden. Fix your fences, mend your gates, reinforce your sheds and your beds, these are the jobs that you won’t have time to do during the summer months when you’re knee deep in weeds.
  • You can get some digging done too if the ground isn’t too frosty, wait for a good rain then turn your soil over.
  • You can of course, get excited and begin to chit your early potatoes.
  • Prune your fruit bushes if you need, especially your gooseberries and currant bushes.
  • Wash your tools and pots, seeds will do better if your pots are clean, it’s the little things like this that make the gardening year easier.
  • You can begin to force your rhubarb if you are so inclined. Cover it with straw and an upturned pot to keep out the light and force them, you will get lovely tender stems early in March.
  • Buy your seeds, this is often one of the most fun parts of the year, choosing what to grow, shop around for your seeds, have a seed swap with your fellow gardeners, order some heirloom varieties, have some fun with what you grow.
  • If you have a polytunnel, get some seeds planted, keep them warm, water them well and you’ll be well prepared.
  • Broad beans are great to plant this time of year but make sure they don’t get frost damage.

In a few short weeks you’ll be grateful if you get ahead of yourself in January, it’s worth braving the elements for.

My plot this morning, very chilly indeed.

Happy New Year

Fiona

Spring Clean

Fiona’s Blog  –  http://fionagrowsfood.com/

This morning, I went out to the plot with the intentions to plant and dig and weed and do those things which we as gardeners are meant to do, but I took one look at the plot and decided before I could reasonably do any of that, I needed to clean up my act. Amongst all my weeds and muck, raised beds and shed, there’s an awful lot of dirt, and I don’t mean muck (we all know there’s plenty of muck) I mean rubbish. Flyaway netting, torn remnants of weed control fabric, shards of bamboo, even old cloches, just rubbish. The allotment was never going to start looking nice if I didn’t deal with all that rubbish first, so I got my cleaning head on and began to tackle the messy parts of the garden.

Underneath it's nice exterior, plot p26 had a dirty underbelly, like the gotham city of allotments.

Underneath it’s nice exterior, plot p26 had a dirty underbelly, like the gotham city of allotments. Only a superhero like Batman could weed out the grime and corruption.

You may remember I made a new years resolution to clean my shed. Well, I did it! Three months later but I finally did it, and boy was there a lot of mess in there. I threw out empty compost bags, plenty of torn netting, old bits of fleece, broken pots, empty water bottles, I found a pair of socks in there (seriously, no idea where they came from). My shed has been returned to it’s former glory, though it is in dire need of some prettying up. New mission: pretty up the shed.

I also decided to tackle the terribly wasted area outside the shed. Last year, most of my effort went in to my raised beds, installing fencing, getting the shed and of course getting to grips with growing my own food. Quite a lot of space on the plot went unused, particularly the area outside the shed, which is fairly big and has a lot of potential. I’d guess it’s about five meters long by two meters wide of my plot which was just grass, rubble and weeds. So, I got out my shovel, and started to dig. It took me the best part of two hours but I turned over all the soil and raked it out to make it even, there had been a slope down toward the shed which was driving me mad. I sectioned off half of this area and began to work the soil and marked a layout for a small herb garden. The rest I covered with weed control fabric, I’m hoping to get either gravel or some paving stones to make a patio but I can’t decide which.

My future herb garden, a work in progress

I decided I needed a break from manual labour and so, I sat on the edge of one of the beds and planted my parsnip seeds. I had manured the soil pretty well last year and covered it for winter and what a difference it made. The soil in the bed was soft and fine, a far cry form what it had been last year. I planted three short rows of “Gladiator” parsnips, a variety I had to grow after tasting some last year and falling in love.

The weather took a bad turn after a few hours so I decided to call it a day, not before I had a little look around the plot.There’s life beginning to creep in again, the cold days are getting very slightly warmer and there’s more light in the sky during the daytime hours. My artichokes are growing back after the winter as are my raspberry canes, which last august I thought had died. There are buds on my blueberry and gooseberry canes, the garlic seems to have finally started growing and my onions are beginning to sprout.

Garlic

Right now, the king of the plot is my rhubarb. I finally picked some today. It was  defenitely the highlight of my gardening year so far.

King of the crops

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Should make a nice crumble

New Year’s Resolutions

Fiona’s Blog –  http://fionagrowsfood.wordpress.com/

Its coming to the end of 2012 and my first year as a novice gardener. Inevitably, I’ve been thinking about the year past and the one to come, the mistakes I’ve made and my the lessons I’ve learned and I am looking forward to another year of being schooled by mother nature.

I’ve also been thinking of my New Year’s resolutions for 2013. New Year’s resolutions can be very hit or miss, some years I’ve had great successes, like the year I decided to quit smoking (four years on, I still haven’t touched a cigarette) or the year I decided to learn how to drive. Most years, I make one or two resolutions, just for the sake of it and I know that they are destined to fail; like eat less chocolate (laughable) or get fit (hilarious).

This time last year, I had no idea I would be growing my own fruit and veg, that I would spend hours cultivating a small piece of land, that I would grow perfectly straight carrots and imperfectly round peas. So, this year, instead of a list of ill thought out resolutions pertaining to me looking fabulous in a bikini; I have drawn up a few lists of tangible, achievable goals and tasks that should be easy to achieve (I hope).

Today on the facebook page, someone asked what our resolutions for the year in gardening were, so without further ado, here are mine.

1. Tidy the shed! Properly, and keep it tidy for at least a week.
2. Move the poorly located raised bed to a new location so the plot has a better layout.
3. Grow beans, the one crop I really want to try in 2013.
4. Grow garlic.
5. Don’t kill my courgettes by planting them out too early.
6. Plan the plot properly, use up all growing space where possible, instead of leaving ground unused.
7. Make some jam.
8. Build a small herb garden
9. Make time every week to visit the plot, rain or shine.
10. Install a water butt.
11. Learn to prune fruit bushes, I haven’t got the foggiest about it.
12. Hang a proper gate.
13. Keep on top of the weeds instead of saying “I’ll do it next time”, only to find they have taken over.
14. Grow parsnips.
15. Finish putting bark mulch on the paths, I started in September and never quite got around to finishing it.

Everything else would be a bonus. I’m going to make it my mission to tick off this checklist in early 2013, lets see how it goes, I’ll probably still be cleaning the shed this time next year.

Happy new year to you all, wishing you the best for the new growing season.

Fiona, plot P26.

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Christmas opening times

Hi folks,

Allotments opening times over Christmas and New Year periods are as follows;

 

Closed from 2pm on Sunday 23rd for the Christmas period.

Open between 11am to 3pm on December 29th and 30th.

Re-open again on January 5th.

iCarrot

Fiona’s Blog  –  http://fionagrowsfood.wordpress.com/

This is what it’s all about, biting into your very first ever homegrown carrot and realising, you’ll never feel the same way about carrots again. It’s the most delicious carrot I’ve ever eaten. In fact, I may just grow carrots on my plot next year and nothing else. I’m considering starting a carrot related advertising campaign to entice people to garden but I think a certain famous company which shares it’s name with another healthy food (I’ll give you a hint, it’s not an orange) might take issue with my slogan.

If you don’t see me for a while, I’m probably busy being sued

Seriously though, grow carrots. Grow them seriously, or for fun, just grow them. I planted my carrots late. In fact, I forgot to plant carrots until the second week in June and wasn’t quite sure they’d even germinate. I had very palpable fears about the carrot root fly, I’ve heard and read some scary stories. Horrible creatures that burrow into your carrots and eat them from the inside out. I’ve had Night of the Living Dead Root Fly nightmares. Plus, we haven’t had the best summer for carrots, so my hopes weren’t very high. Imagine my delight when today I decided to pick some to see how they were progressing and what I ended up with were delicious, crunchy carrots. I of course, ate one straight out of the ground, muck and all. Cue many happy and appreciative noises which I’m sure raised a few eyebrows among my neighbouring allotmenteers. Oh, and another thing, my carrots are straight, very straight, and long. Obviously the 6 hours myself and Dave spent sieving a tonne of soil (literally, a tonne) for the carrot bed paid off.  All that hard work, that hot March day, breaking our backs wheelbarrowing soil to the plot, cursing ourselves, sieveing for hours, raking, raking, more raking, it was totally worth it.

Of course, the carrots aren’t the only crop we’ve harvested this September but they are definitely my favourite. We’ve also had, borlotti beans, celery, red cabbage, spinach chard, peas and of course my onions, which have been drying away in the back garden for three weeks and are nearly ready to eat. I did have to rip up my ridiculous perpetual spinach and swiss chard today as they were taller than me and had bolted, and were quite frankly, a disgrace. I might plant some more for over the winter months.

Spoils

Me with a red cabbage

Artichoke

September isn’t just harvest season though, there’s plenty of jobs to keep me busy in the garden. Of course there’s weeding, because, well, there’s always weeding. There’s plenty of tidying and maintenance to be done but there’s also plenty of planting. It’s time to get the garden ready for overwintering crops, winter onions, garlic, winter lettuces, spinach and of course spring cabbage. Today, I planted two blueberry plants, which are one of the things I’ve known from the start I wanted to grow. These are best planted in autumn, in acidic soil, the lower the pH the better, but around 5 is perfect. I did measure my soil pH in March and the reading was 5.5, so hopefully the bluberries will do well. It does help to aid them though, a good mulch, bark, grass cuttings, leaves, whatever you can get your hands on, and the pine needles from my christmas tree will definitely find their way to my blueberry bed.

Blueberry bushes

September also sees the arrival of the brand new community room on site, it’s a lovely big room, with a fridge, microwave, tea and coffee and snacks, and of course, tables, inside and out, to take a well earned tea break when the work gets too tough. It’s a great way to meet fellow gardeners too, I have hopes of making a few friends here.

Community Room

I did attempt to make the plot look a bit nicer today, I spread some bark mulch around the path near my fruit section of my plot but it took about 400 litres to cover a tiny area so it looks like it’ll be a while before I can do the whole plot. I also attempted a makeshift patio area. It’s not great. I had visions of a lovely decking area with potted plants and a table and chairs. In reality, I placed some planks of wood on the ground, thats about it, but it’s a start, I would put up a photo but I can’t bring myself to do it, it’s that bad.

The bark is a big improvement on the weeds

September is also planning time. Get planning. It’s amazing how much a planting plan will help in the early spring.

As for carrots, if you’re not growing them, do it next year, you’ll thank me.

Competition Time!

Hi all, it’s officially competition time!!  As part of the Harvest Day celebrations on the 2nd of September, Malahide Allotments will be awarding prizes for the following categories:

  • Best Maintained 50m2 Allotment
  • Best Maintained 100m2 Allotment
  • Heaviest Tomato
  • Longest Carrot
  • Most Peas in a Single Pod
  • Heaviest Marrow
  • Best/Funniest Plot Name

There will also be a kids section, with prizes for:

  • Best Scarecrow (to be brought on the day)
  • Tallest Sunflower (these can be entered on the day by leaving your plot no. on a list and we will go around then and measure them on your plot – so no need to cut them)

So get weeding, get tidying, get growing and get feeding!  Best of luck to everyone.

Harvest Day

Harvest Day

The Prodigal Gardener

Fiona’s Blog:  http://fionagrowsfood.wordpress.com/

 

Forgive me, garden, for I have sinned, It’s been four weeks since I last paid you attention.

You see, dear garden, let me explain, it’s not that I don’t love you or want to spend time with you; it’s not that I’m lazy and not bothered to dig you, it’s simply that life has gotten in the way, and the real world has hindered my ability to tend to your needs weeds.

Fear not, my garden, I have returned. (With help, of course.)

We arrived this morning, myself and my parents, whose help I enlisted to battle your weeds. I’m sorry we stared at you aghast, I’m sorry we laughed at the sorry state you were in, I shall endeavor not to mock you again. Your beauty was hidden behind weeks of weed growth, spurred on by the horrible, wet, summer weather. Your lovely shed door was almost wide open, if not for the kindness of my lovely allotment neighbour, who tied it closed, after what it seems, a huge bunch of weeds had forced it open.

I am full of remorse.

We spent three hours, pulling up weeds, tidying you up, making you look nice again. We pulled up your beautiful borage plants, who were so prolific they were choking everything else, we massacred at least one hundred poppies, we pulled up at least a thousand and one nettles; my arms (my penance) covered in stings.

You began to look lovely again, your sweet peas and cornflowers, glorious in the sunshine.

You, my garden, despite the neglect, have continued to grow and provide me with crops. Your poor potato patch, badly blighted, looked forlorn and beyond redemption. On closer inspection, much to our surprise, hidden below were hundreds of beautiful, baby Maris Pipers, healthy as anything. Only a few were rotten. It’s truly a miracle.

 

Your raised beds, when freed from the grasp of the weeds, revealed a bumper crop of huge beetroots, some almost as big as my face. Your cabbages, celery, brocolli and lettuces, your peas, your rhubarb, your strawberries and artichokes all huge and healthy, despite the bad summer. Your swiss chard and spinach decided to bolt, but are beautiful bright lights in the centre of the plot. And your onions, oh your onions, they are almost ready, I can almost taste them. I long to dig them up.

So, my garden, you have been restored, I promise not to neglect you again. You have provided me with dinner for the week. I do not deserve it.

May the weather bless you and keep you until next weekend, when I shall return, to reap more of your bounty.

Amen.

P.S.  Many thanks to Janette and John, without whom, you’d still be a mess.

Yum!

Giant beetroot
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