A bit of planting

My continuing mission to add more trees and plants around the house

AIMG_20140124_115759 busy day ahead of me! 3 birch trees, 60 hawthorn, 60 blackthorn, 10 holly bushes, some posts, 60m of wire mesh and some horse feed for good measure (I may need it myself after all that). All of the trees are from Caragh Nurseries.




Unpacked, the birch are nice actually, it’s amazing how little root can support a big tree. They are kept small so you can transplant them but they have taken off no problem.

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Nearly ready to burst open, Spring is coming!



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Wire mesh installed, hedges all planted and ready to go. I mixed the hawthorn and blackthorn fairly randomly, they’re pretty similiar as they grow up anyway. The holly is mixed in every couple of metres to give it some thickness in Winter, I’ll probably let them grow out a bit if they want to, they should be a lot slower than the rest anyway. In a few years time this should be a fairly dense native hedge that should shelter the vegetable garden and help support some birds and the like.




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I must find some photos of the whole thing in bloom, they all came up great. Of course now that I’m posting this it’s the next Winter so looks much the same as when it was planted except about a foot taller and slightly thicker!

Future forest

The fields and the house are more exposed than I like, and I am generally on a mission to plant trees so I ordered a load from Future Forests in Bantry, Co. Cork. They arrived within a few days and the quality of the trees was excellent. As I write this nearly a year later, I know one or two Hazel didn’t make it, and everything else did apart from a few that got eaten by horses…

I’m trying to plant native trees as much as possible (and at least close to native when I can’t) and I decided to plant a load of Rowan on one end of the field and one side of the sand arena. They are reasonably quick growing, support a lot of native birds in the winter and are nice enough looking trees, with a good flower and lots of berries (which are apparently technically fruit) once they get established.

This is what 65 Rowan trees look like in a wheelbarrow:


They don’t look like much now but they will be in a few years

And this is them in the ground:




The advantage of posting everything 10 months late is that I can now jump forward 2 months and this is how they looked about 10 weeks later

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I have been neglecting this blog for quite some time. Now that it’s a new season (and I’ve already started planting for this year) the re will be a lot more to add. There have also been some new animal arrivals to the zoo… first among them one of these two lunatics. Full border collies from proper sheep-herding stock. One was temporary and one was staying… though how could you let one of them go!


So tiny!


So cute








It was pretty hard but eventually we picked Oscar and sent Bravo off to Fran (they still go on play-dates though!) It’s a bit mad when you see him grow from small enough to fit in one hand to nearly as tall as you when he stretches out. He is very brave and adventurous though which makes him great fun when he’s not getting into trouble…


Oscar the farm dog

3 month old collies are just lunatic bundles of energy, they run around like lunatics for half an hour then sleep for an hour then repeat… Poor Bob is only able for limited amounts but he was very good with them really!


Bob doesn’t like to share

He’s actually going to be pretty big for a Collie, his legs look way too big for the rest of him at this stage but he’ll catch up with them


The legs!

And catch up he did…




…and growing

So now at almost a year old he looks like a proper dog! Still a lunatic though…

Brassicas and caterpillar killers

Most of the Summer / Autumn vegetables are done now apart from a few onions and the last of the peas and some carrots that I suspect are very small… Brassicas are doing well though.


All cosy in their bed

The plants

Brassicas (mostly winter stuff) growing away happily under mesh. Some of them are fairly ravaged by caterpillars (poor brussels sprouts), some of them are surviving well enough


Kale, eaten but furiously growing away

Kale is very easy to grow, and seems not to be bothered by getting devoured




Huge so they are!







I always think of The Enormous Turnip, they just won’t stop growing.






Cauliflower leaves are getting devoured but they seem to have started forming heads anyway — I must clean them off a bit.

The enemy

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Cabbage white caterpillars… and I can’t remember what the green ones are called. They seemed to hatch earlier but are mostly gone now, the cabbage whites are still going strong. But…




Not the best picture but I’m pretty sure (the dead caterpillar on a cocoon of eggs being a likely indicator) that these are something like this parasitic wasp. They are pretty amazing, they lay eggs inside the caterpillars, which hatch and develop inside it for a few weeks before eating their way out of the host! They then form their own cocoon and hatch out into a type of tiny wasp a while later. I’ll be keeping an eye on them anyway, unfortunately I had removed a good few before I realised what they were



More harvesting

Getting into proper harvesting season now…



I was very happy with how these turned out (those are the biggest ones but we got about 20 in the end, and more planted). Fresh beetroot, roasted is so much nicer than any pickled one you’d ever get.







More peas

More peas

This is the second crop from the first planting of peas — after we picked them clean, a load more flowers developed and they happily produced another set of peas. There is still the second planting to come, they are nearly ready to pick now as well.






Apparently Fennel is a bit prone to just developing as a herb (above ground) and not forming any significant bulb. A few of mine went like that but most did form a bulb. I didn’t go anything special apart from earthing them up when the bulb started forming, and they seemed to come out ok, maybe the hot weather helped. These two are the only bulbs I got harvested, about 4 more had gone to flower before I realised it! So hopefully we’ll get seeds out of them. The leaves are very tasty anyway, not as strong as the bulb but a nice aniseedy flavour.






You can always rely on mangetout. Still going strong despite me nearly killing half of them trying to tie them up after they had grown too big.







I am very proud of the onions! These are the biggest ones I picked early — there are about 10 more slightly smaller ones from the first sowing still in the ground, and about 15 from the second sowing. They are surprisingly sweet when you eat them fresh, the strong oniony flavour only develops as they cure after picking (which they are doing now). The key is really just to get the moisture out without them rotting or going moldy — in the South of France this involves leaving them out in the sun for a few days, in Ireland it’s a bit more complicated!

Climbing Wall Phase 0

Well I haven’t started building the actual wall yet but I did order a load of holds (from customholds.com, they seem pretty good so far). Stuck a few up on some of the old stable wall (carefully … some of the boards are a bit lose …)

Always be prepared!

Always be prepared!

First hold

First hold

First route!

First route!

Climbing on boards that may or may not hold over a concrete floor doesn’t encourage pushing your limits but it should be good to get a little bit of training again. Then once the winter arrives (and I don’t have a million things to do outside anymore) I will try and get the proper thing built. I’m trying not to drill holes in too many of the boards so I can reuse them as much as possible.

I should get a few more up this weekend, and see if I can scavenge some sort of mat (a few hay bales maybe!)

Edit: Actual routes!


You could probably call these routes


First harvest

I’ve been picking mangetout for a while, and about 2 tons of lettuce but that doesn’t really count…


Mmm peas




The haul


Broad beans


Like… peas in a pod!

Make hay while the sun shines!


Nicely turned and lined up


Now we just need to move them all!!

After going to all the effort of picking ragwort out of it we said we may as well get it cut! I was amazed at how much we got off it, even having to leave out the bits where the ground was too bad to run the machines over and with about an acre cut off for the boys we got 145 bales of good meadow hay off it… should keep those horses fed for a while over the winter!


Some nice weather

We got the raised beds finished, filled and over the last few months have been planting. Off the top of my head:

  • Broad beans
  • Mange tout
  • Petit pois (peas)
  • Onions
  • Fennel
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Beetroot
  • Carrots
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Swede
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Kale

Might have missed a few but that’s most of them, all seeds ordered from QuickCrop.ie, they were very good, fast and cheap.

There are also a few bits of fruit around:

  • Apple trees, a few even fruiting
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Gooseberry (barely alive after getting devoured by caterpillars)

Beans and peas, growing like weeds!


Brassicas, just planted out so they are still small. Most of them seem to be surviving the heat


Spinach, Lettuce (going to seed), beetroot and there are carrots in there somewhere


Fennel, onions on the right and some weeds


The whole place, some of the field in the background


Green-, soon to be blue-berries


Apple trees coming along nicely


Some of them might even be big enough to eat