Saturday, 31 March 2012

Slug Patrol

Night time has fallen on PallasGreen. Inside the fire is on, feet are up and there is a very nice bottle of vacqueyras(Vah-keh-rahss-its my french word of the day, I may never put a basic sentence together in French but put me in a french bar and watch me go!) being demolished. Ginger is rolling over for his 5th nap of the evening.

Outside nobody is napping! The slugs and snails are wide awake and hungry from another dry day keeping them in their shelters under rocks and in cool shaded areas. Now the grazing begins, so before I get too comfortable, warm or half sozzled I have to drag myself (reluctantly) into the cool still night air to go on slug patrol.

Break it up boys the spinach party is over!
It has to be done. I went out an hour ago, light on my head to check on the new seedlings in the cold frame, just in case a hungry slug or snail was knocking around. I found two feckers eating spinach and a whole army up in the hot bed devouring hyiacinth stalks! On a happier note none of them seem to have realised that lettuces and broad beans have been transplanted into the main garden yet.There wasn't a single slug to be found down there. I do like slugs but I wish they would just eat grass and leave garden plants alone.

Pink primroses are a big hit with slugs out the back garden

At home slugs would appear late at night in the back kitchen crossing the floor and climbing walls looking for food. These guys were giants, black, long and slimy with their distinctive silvery trails glinting in the light. In some ways its easier to track them at night with the lamp light reflecting back their tracks.

What do I do with the slugs and snails I catch?
Unlike Eileen who drowns them overnight in beer or kills them on sight during the daytime I just escort them to another part of the garden and let them go! I just cant kill them-I like them too much!

"Mongrel" compost

rough beginnings in the green waste depot at Mungret
Saturday is recycling day at my house. So it's an early morning pack up and then off to Mungret where depending on how much you managed to squeeze into the back it can be €5 or €12 to drop off a van load of stuff.  It's a great feeling driving out of there, minus all the crap you came with. I rarely if ever bring garden waste as I try to find ways to recycle it in the garden but anyone using the recycling facility can pick up compost for free. The question is -is it worth taking? I was watching people arriving last Saturday with their trailer loads of garden waste trying to work it out.

trailer load of raw material getting dropped off
It was Jean at the ornamental veg talk that really got me thinking about this. Someone asked her what compost do you use and she said New Horizon. She went on to explain that its reclaimed from green waste-in other words recycled plant cuttings and pruning and general garden waste. Just as the stuff-for free in Mungret is. New Horizon has added food but it costs €6.50 a bag in Ellen st, or on special deal through B&Q you can currently get 3 bags for €10. Why spend the money on imported compost if you can get free stuff down the road?

The finished stuff ready to go
I was talking to the owner of McNamara's garden centre and he made a good point about the stuff in Mungret when he said people use it to dump "dirt" from the garden, meaning diseased plants, soiled earth, basically the complete lot of undesirables that you wouldn't voluntarily take into your own garden.

So where does that leave us?
Back at the recycling centre watching people dropping off trailer loads of stuff. In the short time I was there it was all cuttings, grass, wood and general garden waste all of which looked healthy. I wasn't out swabbing the samples for viruses and bacteria but hey! we all have a healthy dose of something in our garden. I have had fungal diseases, blight, white onion rot, wine weevils, and slow worms to name but a few! Surely the act of composting with all the heavy machinery involved at this yard to move and aerate it should deal with most of these problems?

heavy duty machinery at Mungret

I did try this stuff out last year and what I found for what it's worth is that it was very heavy with bits of wood chip and surprisingly light in assorted surprises from nails to plastic and anything you can think of in between. You could sieve it to use it as a finer grade compost for sowing or top soil but the rougher stuff is fine for the bottom of raised beds. The wood pieces in it are after all carbon based, and although they take a long time to break down they are essential to good soil health. New Horizon is much lighter and cleaner-no surprises of plastic pipes, Christmas tree tinsel, or sink stoppers!!!

it's rough but it has potential
Final verdict;
Any time you get horse manure, topsoil, seaweed, or compost you never know what "surprises" or "free gifts" you might also be getting unknown to yourself. There is feckall to be had for free lads(especially from the government) so if you are building raised beds you might take advantage of it and use it on the lower levels especially if you were finding it hard to find filling for your beds in the first place. If you sieve it you will be able to use it in many other areas and if you don't sieve it you might find it makes a good mulch for trees shrubs and new hedges, helping you keep off grass and weeds while slowly decomposing and feeding the soil over a long time. I think I will stick with New Horizon for sowing seeds but I wont pass on the free stuff for more industrial jobs.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Great pic to explain plant nutrients

Got this via a link through an t-Ionad Glas and Catherine Caulwell on facebook. Brilliant!!

Late daffodils

Quick post.
These guys are amongst the last to bloom but I think they are really timely-the centres remind me of cadburys creme eggs, what could be more Easter-ish than that? ( yes, everything reminds me of Easter and chocolates at the moment-lent fatigue is showing!).

East bed, new ground, rough and ready!

creme egg anyone?

My smart arse students will be the death of me!!

On Wednesday my current gang were in ISSA on work experience, around lunch time I get my first text from Maudie. This picture with the accompanying text;

"Workin really hard"
I said "I hope you are enjoying the lovely day"
Next text
"yes we are really enjoying tea.I thought d 2 girls were coming from NCW they must have gotten lost in transit"

I nearly had a heart attack!!!
Two missing students
No texts no phone calls. Feck feck feck...S%&t!!!!(still off swearing for lent)
So I texted her back right away

"They are supposed to be there!"

Then suspicion got the better of me and I added another line before I sent the text
"Are you pulling my leg Maudie?"

In reply I got this picture
"R these them?"

God I am so easily conned-I nearly gave myself an ulcer!!!!
This class will be the death of me

1st pea bed

the pressure for space is building
One thing about this time of the year is the pressure for pots. No matter how many you think you have once you begin to transplant you quickly realise there is never enough.I do hope my husband is reading this so the next winter time pot cull can be avoided!

Seamus is a bit of a legend when it comes to clear-outs. It's probably a good thing as I do have a slight hoarding tendency, but I think every Gardener has one. The trick is having the space and organisational skills to make your hoard accessible and easily found. All too often something that I thought would come in handy has vanished to the depths of the shed never to be seen again. Yesterday was a surprise when driven by despair (at running out of small pots) at the very back of the shed,in a green bag for life I found several perfect unused seed trays with a light dusting of cobwebs. I hate to say it but the shed could do with a massive clear out! On second thoughts I hope he's not reading this!

B beans transplanted March 22
Under pressure for places on the path out the back, and under pressure for particular sizes of pots you get quite ruthless with hardy seedlings. First up were the Oldambaster broad beans which are a nice sturdy plant having been transplanted from their seed tray about a week ago. But the pots they are in -I now need them for sweet peas-so they have to be transplanted down the veg garden. And to keep them company a selection of the salad greens from out the back are also ready for the great outdoors- I need their pots for snapdragons! Both could share the side aisles in the first pea bed which needed to be built anyway.

If you have never grown peas its really important you put in strong supports to keep them vertical when they are heavy with tonnes of pods. I tend to grow the taller varieties, so that means support at least to 5-6ft. Smaller ones like "meteor" can grow on pea sticks as they only make 1.5 ft in height. After 8 years (had to think about that for a minute)! of growing peas I stick with the following system and it works great for me.

Step 1; empty compost bin into wheel barrow. doesn't matter if it's a bit rough, the peas wont mind. Rough compost is great for climbing beans too.

Rough compost but fine for this job
dig out the channel
fill with compost
Step 2; dig out a channel in the centre of the bed and fill it with the compost. How deep? at least 6 inches if you can.Cover it all over with topsoil from your trench sides breaking up any big lumps as you go. You are now ready to sow directly into the soil or transplant out your first peas.

Step 3; Put up your fencing posts, getting someone with a strong arm to use a sledge hammer to drive them into the ground. Give the post a good tug-it should not move much if at all. Use a staple gun to add your chicken wire to the posts, pulling it as tightly as you can as you staple it in place. This has a lot of weight to bear later on so it must be pretty rigid. Though if you reuse chicken wire from year to year as I do then its hard to get it very taut as it buckles over time. In winter you can just roll it up out of the way and store it.

posts in place

stapling on the wire

Step 4; Finally plant up the bed. Using this system the centre of the bed, next to the wire, is where I will sow my peas. But there is lots of room on the sides of the bed for other crops. Keeping to the rotation I use I'm staying in the pea and bean (Legume) family so that's why the broad beans can be transplanted in here. The salad leaves don't affect the rotations so they can go anywhere but I might as well get a crop out of them before I need the space for French beans later on. Under each broad bean another spade of the compost is added, under the salad leaves some sea-mun-gus.

salad leaves planted out

Oldambaster broad bean planted out
Now the final part, anticipating trouble! For starters has anyone else noticed the explosion in greenfly this last week? Black bean aphids will be hot on their heels so I am adding a few poached egg plants to the broad bean plantings to keep them rich in hover flies which dine on aphids. Slugs were pretty quite while it was hot and dry but with a cooler outlook and the possibility of rain they will re-emerge so it's off to Margarets shop for some spent fairtrade coffee grindings(only the best for MY SLUGS) to keep the slithering army at bay. All I have left to do is to sow peas.According to the moon calendar the next available fruit day(peas fall into the fruit category as we eat the fruiting part of the plant) is Monday the 2nd of April from 6pm on and all day Tuesday 3rd until 8pm.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Baby salad leaves-first lunch today!

texel greens looking good
Celebrated the sunshine today with a lunch of salad leaves from the transplanted seedlings out back. This is the lots originally sown on February 6th, and transplanted on March 7th. Baby lettuce leaves, texel greens and rocket. As its now March 28th thats 7 weeks from seed to sandwich!!

You can expect even faster results as the weather improves and summer arrives.Some packs take 3 weeks from seed to harvest-Suttons in particular package different mixes of cut and come again salads as "speedy veg"  but they tend to be expensive to buy.If you buy your own salad mixes and sow what you want you can do it cheaper. And its always cheaper and tastier than a bought bag from a supermarket!!

lovely to have different colours and tastes
You have to experiment with the rocket, there are a lot of different types. And they all taste different. This one is an organic Italian rocket from ISSA (Irish Seed Savers Association) and it's pretty mild and inoffensive, but the wild rocket which is in the next succession sown tray is much more pungent, spicy and aromatic. That's the stuff I really love.Why sow the other? I have the seeds and I don't want them to go to waste-and the others couldn't be sown that early.

God sorry, I cant keep writing about the virtues of rocket, that crazy fecker Bear Grylls is drinking his own urine on Discovery and unfortunately I can hear the whole thing through the sitting room door! Eugh! it would put you off all thoughts of salad!!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Onion seedlings transplanted..but still unimpressed

ready for transplanting, but nothing as big as I hoped
Finally last week I gave in and transplanted the still miserable looking onion seedlings. Technically they were ready for transplanting as most had the two leaves needed. But I wish they were bigger, further along, more oniony looking!

Now they are potted up I'm waiting for some overnight miracle, because as I transplanted them I could see that they have only just formed a basic root system with no sign of the distinctive onion bulb that should be underneath. These little onions still have a long long way to go. Can they do it?

onion seedling- the black cap is the original seed coat

Crazy, wonderful, amazing weather!

God bless Jean Byrne and her crazy frocks!!!
Where o where has this hot spell come from? Not that I am complaining. I have a healthy "grab the shorts and sandals at any opportunity" attitude when this happens!

I don't know about the rest of you but today was just mind blowing in its perfectness. Hot, freckle inducing weather, blushing tulips, singing bees, humming hover flies. It's summer-except in March!! I don't care about those naysayers muttering about paying for it later-enjoy it now I say! Some pics from the amazing day it was;

Is it Ireland or Portugal? check out my cool blue shed
Aaah tulips, be still my beating heart
fresh cut grass and one hot cat

O rats...

clearing cauliflowers
One evening last week while I was clearing away old cauliflowers in the smallest brassica bed I found a tunnel. Not very big, but too big to be a shrew, the usual suspect in these tunnel findings, especially in the veg garden. I dragged Seamus over to get another opinion.Staring down at it the uncomfortable truth was spoken out loud-"it must be a rat".O no not bloody rats. There was no point staring into the hole and wringing our hands, out it had to come. And so with a heavy heart we started to dig.

I asked "what do I do if something runs out?"
"Hit it on the back of the head with the spade " I was told.
Bloody great..I'll probably scream like a girl and run for cover. But! anyway, I don't want to hit any animal on the back of the head, even if it is a rat!! O I hate this kind of thing...

Ginger would not go away-he was on the case!
A movement caught my eye as small shapes came into view. Small black shapes! O no baby rats!
Ginger was over like a shot, hunting paw up, armed and ready. He started to actually get in the way, himself and Seamus battling to see wither paw or spade would make the next move.
Arragh!!!!! what's that????

"Quick" Seamus ordered, "GET A BUCKET OF WATER.!"
"What the hell are we going to do with a bucket of water?"
"Drown them of course!"
"What! no way, that's a horrible death, I'm not drowning anything"
"For Gods sake! they are rats!"
"I don't give a shit! lets just get an empty bucket, put them in it and dump it down the field"
"They will die of starvation (actually a good point I hadn't thought of), or die of the cold, or something else will kill them."
"Exactly I said, NOT OUR PROBLEM, that's nature"
"That's bullshit"
"Are you saying its kinder to drown them?"
"I think either way they're dead."

I  muttered darkly about murder and bad karma and reincarnation as rats but was getting no-where. Eventually worn down by my other half's logic I went to get a bucket and with a heavy heart I filled it with water. I though of all those people on the Titanic(including the rats) what a nasty end. Maybe rats can swim? Don't people talk about rats jumping off sinking ships? Or is that just a metaphor?

So back I came, bucket in hand, very, very heavy hearted. It was right up there with the time I killed the Australian slow worm. I felt an immediate terrible horror at what I'd done. The only thing I can kill guilt free are wine weevils and thinking about it now I'm even starting to feel guilty about that! This would be getting ridiculous if it weren't so troubling in the first place!!

Seamus had won out over Ginger and uncovered almost the last of the tunnel, three black hairless things with closed eyes squirmed around, one moving towards the exit without realising it. Seamus and Ginger vied for position, and just as Seamus was about to guillotine the first victim I took one last look before looking away.
see the ears and tails-bunnies, phew! not rats

"STOP STOP!!!" I said, "its not a rat! Its a fecking bunny!! look at the ears and the little scutty tail!!"
The execution was postponed as all three of us looked into the hole to see better what our victims really looked like. Ginger swiped a paw at him. It was a Bunny, a very young one.Maybe only a few days old. "That explains the rabbit the other night, just beside this bed that I chased off" Seamus said. Fecking rabbits!

Ginger was put under house arrest as we slowly reconstructed the tunnel, putting a board over it so it wouldn't collapse before mama bunny could come back and move them. She had lined the burrow with fur and grass so we tried to do the same with some weeds I had pulled that evening to keep the babies from freezing to death in her absence. By the time we were finished it looked perfectly hidden again, just a small opening that hopefully only she would know about.

I felt a whole lot better as I drained the water from the bucket. All was right with the world.
That night I told my mother in law the story of the baby rabbits and the curse of mistaken identity. As I described the burrow lined with grass and fur she said "isn't nature wonderful?" a few hours later my own mother said exactly the same thing about it.

Next day the burrow was empty, bunnies hopefully moved to a safer neighbourhood, away from pesky humans and cats. No sign of violence-phew!

Isn't nature wonderful though?

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Gone for a few days

no relevance! just love this house used to model the one in Up!
Hi lads,
I havent died just away for a few days, will post again later next week!
enjoy the glorious sunshine!!!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Soil temperatures

How handy is this!?
I was just looking at the Weather forecast on met eireanns web site when I spotted this-a list of soil temperatures around the country. Click for the larger version of this picture to see it (the last column on the right hand side).This will help you figure out if your ground is ready to sow seeds directly or not.If you want to be really picky you can buy your own soil thermometer.

On Met Eireann it's under Agricultural Reports, here is the direct web link;
Met Eireann

Veg talk Report

Jean and her husband-nabbed from her website
The Ornamental Veg Talk was brilliant,Jean is an excellent and very funny speaker with the kind of honesty and down to earth qualities that make for a very interesting evening.She gave a very good description of how they manage their no-dig raised beds, how she uses the moon calendar for sowing, (you could see a few old dears tittering at this but not my students who were all nodding sagely at her!)and how, no matter how hard she tries she never gets around to everything! Amen! A normal person like the rest of us!!

the Glebe house
She started off as a market gardener in Gloucester in the UK where she and her husband owned 6 acres on which they grew literally thousands of veg. After a number of years lettuce fatigue was setting in! At that time they had a guy from Cork working on the farm who suggested they go on holiday in Ireland. Jean thought it was much too far away (!) but somehow they managed to get to Kerry for two weeks. And there the impossible happened-the sun shone for two weeks solid! All the locals tried to tell them it was a fluke but I suppose they wouldn't listen because when they got home they sold up and moved over, and the rest as they say is history.

meadow at Glebe-ah summer
Since then they have realised that they probably moved to the wettest part of the country but it dosent seem to have deterred them one bit. As work outside of tourism and fishing is kind of scarce in Baltimore they went back to gardening, this time not on the same scale as before and with a few differences. They have 24 raised beds about 16ft by 8ft made from oak railway sleepers surrounded by gravel paths underlay ed with mypex. Jean says they are too wide and long for her but its unlikely they will change them considering the cost involved. To compensate she puts a plank across the beds centre and works out to each side.

amphitheatre at Glebe
Their soil is sandy and light so they are constantly adding to it with seaweed,(the end of the garden is right on an inlet) home made compost and goats manure(they have two goats). Each year they mulch the beds heavily in autumn and do not dig them at all, planting crops directly in the following spring and Summer. They also use a mown grass mulch to conserve moisture and keep weeds off throughout the summer. They are careful to use thin layers of grass at a time allowing it to dry out to a nice thatch on the beds.They average 2-3 crops from each bed each year-very good going!

prettiest tunnel setting I have ever seen!
Their daughters run the cafe and they grow as much of the food as possible for it. She was very happy to tell us that they are listed amongst the 100 best cafes in Ireland.The are organic but do not get certified as people coming to them know their philosophy on food which is organic local and seasonal.Lately they have added an amphitheatre to the gardens where they can seat up to 450 people for theatre and concerts! Jean explained that the experience is one most tourists never forget describing how they walk through the gardens to the amphitheatre in daylight and return under the night sky candles lighting their way back. It really does sound amazing. If you are in West Cork you know what to do of an evening!

Top tips of the evening;

1. She was once told to plant white pansies under cabbages to deter cabbage white butterflies. She tried it and it worked! The butterfly looks down, sees all these other "butterflies" around the cabbage and much like a queue at Tescos thinks " its too busy here I'll look elsewhere!"

veg garden at Glebe-check out the runner bean supports!
2. Inverted supports for runner beans using a T bar support and wires, you kind of have to see it to understand what I'm talking about. Can you figure it out from the photo?

3. Charles Dowding, the man who taught her Husband and herself no dig gardening, has a book on salads she highly recommends called "Salad leaves for all seasons"

4. Seed companies I have never heard of that she uses;

There are loads of photos of this beautiful garden at Glebe on their website. If you have the time click on the link below to take you straight to the gallery. Sorry I cant fill you in on everything from the talk and I'm sure other pieces of information struck other people there. It really was excellent. Next month Limerick Garden Plants group are having Gerry Daly for a QandA session. They are looking for a big crowd so come if you can!!!

Glebe Gardens Pictures

P.S. I Must say that as it was the first Limerick Plants group talk I was ever at I really enjoyed the social side of it too. I met lots of people I know through other Gardening Avenues and was impressed by the spread of ages and experience.There was a raffle for plants, cups of tea, coffee and biscuits and a guy selling a lovely variety of plants. Needless to say I was one of the last to leave and my jaw is aching today from all the talking!!Thumbs up!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Open day and Graduation June 24th 2012

Westies 2011 enjoying a last supper at Eileens

Eileen will be hosting an open day at her farm in Blackhill Ardagh on Sunday June the 24th. All past students will be getting an invitation to attend with their families and we will be presenting last years gang with their certificates. All this years students will be in attendance too so it will be a lovely chance for all like minded veggie growers to meet up and make new friends. Put it on the calendar and in your diaries! Times and details to follow.

A Daft Bunch!

Maudie and Jack-two heads are better than one!
I really must tell you all what a daft, funny and great bunch I am teaching in Hospital this year.They make me laugh so much its a great pleasure to teach them, and work never seems like work with able bodied willing hands working beautifully together.

 I think there is always a spark of magic when you get a bunch of people who don't know each other yet after a relatively short time there is a wonderful flow to everything they do. I'm only sorry to finish with all the wonderful people I have the privilege of teaching and I'm hoping to get you all together for our open day in June at Eileen's. Check out the next post for details of the graduation for last years group and a get together for everyone in the green wellie brigade!

Garden Centre Fever

It's official, garden centre fever is underway!
Last weekend Dundrum nurseries in Tipp was mobbed. Id say they made their money on seed potatoes and bedding plants alone. I bought a golden bamboo, two ferns, a tree peony(good value at 12 euros) and a thuja, in a variegated yellow green, hopefully it will block a draught in the south westerly corner! and I picked up an enormous tub of the brilliantly named Sea-mun-gus. Brilliant all round stuff , great in the veg garden, on the lawn, under fruit trees, for roses, anything really. Next best is also the brilliantly named "cock-a doodle-doo", Irish made pelleted chicken manure!!Great high nitrogen doses for lots of things in the garden.

what could you possibly get up to in here?
Took this pic in the enormous glasshouse as I was checking out the tree ferns.To be honest I was mulling over the moral dilemma of the state of Victoria in Queensland harvesting these amazing plants to send them to inhospitable climates like ours where after 40 years and more of growing they will probably die the first bad winter. I felt bad for the plants.

The girl working in there kept looking suspiciously at me!! Reminded me of backpacking, they searched me every time at customs. I almost never got to America because the first page immigration opened in Shannon had two lovely Visas for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran! This was in October 2002! Well on the plus side it was probably the most excitement U.S. Immigration had that day. Its good that our family keeps them busy. The banned my sister from travel a few years later after she overstayed a VISA.

A big Ey up!! to Jude in Sheffield who might remember a border crossing where a few of us realised we were in possession of illegal substances that had to be creatively ditched at the last minute!! Everyone should travel it really is an education!! Except maybe for tree ferns who would live longer at home in Australia.

Ornamental Veg Garden talk on tonight!

A quick reminder to anyone who is free and has €8 to spare, the ornamental vegetable garden talk organised by the Limerick Garden Plants group is on tonight at the South Court Hotel in Raheen at 8pm. See you all there!

Chateau de Villandry ornamental veg garden France

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Lifting off the winter mulches

Pulling back the cardboard mulch at Eileen's
tiger worm party!!

Last week we uncovered two beds at Eileen's that had been covered by a thick cardboard mulch  in October. As each layer was peeled back the ground sprang to life! centipedes, millipedes, spiders, slugs, tiger worms, earthworms, wood lice, wire worms, all ran for cover( or just sat there in shock!) a feast of life under decomposing cardboard. Underneath the cardboard the soil was fine and dry, a lovely rich colour, after a winter of decomposing manure and compost. It was warm to the touch too-perfect for planting that day.

Plastic mulches at Jac
I couldn't help but notice the difference at Jacks a day later when we uncovered beds that had been covered in black plastic for a winter mulch around the same time. No army of insects, no lovely warm rich colour in the earth below. It seemed devoid of life. The added mushroom compost seemed cloddy and sterile, although the bed improved with a lot of vigorous digging and the temperature was warm to the touch too.

 It makes you wonder about the usefulness of plastic in the garden, does it really have a place in the veg garden over winter or are we better sticking with biodegradable organic stuff like cardboard and newspapers that provide a home for so much insect life while the world slumbers?

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Bare root roses

waltz time
I was putting it off for ages but finally today I got round to unpacking the bare root roses I bought in Aldi and getting them re hydrated and into the ground. Some of them were shooting, others had fine new delicate white roots sprouting. I'd say almost all look like they will be fine. Two looked a bit shook, making me feel guilty for not getting to them sooner. The longer you keep them in the bags the bigger risk of them drying out or moulding up. Fingers crossed the nice rain forecast for tomorrow will help them get back to life. Apologies to all of you hoping for a fine Friday. My weather forecaster out west, aka Mum sent me a text at 17.50 with the following update "Marie watch ur clothes the rain is here. xm". Whatever hits west usually travels this way about a few hours later. Taking no chances I brought in the clothes from the line!

very handy gadget!
Outside at the work bench everything was going great. I was well organised, I even thought of the label printer in the office and brought it out to use it! It's way better than those plastic labels they put on plants in garden centres. These are very adhesive and laminated-they stand up really well to the weather. Some people swear by them for pond plants. So away I went and soon got into a nice production line of removing the packaging, recording the variety, with eventual  height and width, printing the label, sticking it on the plant and finally putting it in a bucket of water to help it rehydrate before I put it in the ground. This was going great until suddenly the label printer printed me out a neat set of black lines instead of a name- I was out of tape!

my mothers idea of a joke cup!
These are the little problems that beset you when you have a big gardening job on, and the most typical -you run out of labels. Always bloody labels! I couldn't for the life of me think of a suitable replacement,something that would stay on the plants through wind, wear and the four seasons. It brought the whole production line to a halt. This called for a cup of tea and several biscuits! I sat munching on ginger biscuits and drinking green tea trying to come up with a solution but none came. It was, I realised, a three cup problem! (eat your heart out Sherlock Holmes).

roses ready to go
Margaret who has great timing when it comes to cups of tea chose that exact time to call. I needed to train her up to mind seedlings for me for a few days. I completely forgot all about the problem as we chatted. The most excellent Marigold hotel was discussed, Seamus (her dogs trip to the vet for blocked tear ducts) did you know there is a dog eye specialist? apparently dogs have consultants too! We took a walk outside to look at cauliflowers and discuss daffodils. We went out back to tour the seedlings and look at my other half's mad plants. She got her formal training, where to use the water hose, spray gun and long nosed watering can. By the time she hit for home and I looked up at the clock it was lunchtime! feck!

Somehow when you forget about something you often come up with the most simple solutions. I got out plant labels, big ones, punched a hole on them with a paper punch and wired them on to the roses-simple! The paper punch took a beating though, I don't think it was designed for anything thicker than paper!
I ploughed on till they were all done, took them down the garden, dug a trench and heeled them in . All I have to do now is figure out where to put them. Here's a list of what I got;

ena harkness from compare store prices
Reine Des Violette's from mooseys country garden

Ena Harkness (outstanding scent, red roses that hang their heads, climber)

Reine Des Violette's ( gorgeous old fashioned rose, violet grey, repeats well, beautiful scent, large shrub)

Mdm Alfred carriere
Paul's scarlet by Sarah Jane

 Madame Alfred Carriere (vigorous climber with a fab white sweetly scented rose, very long flowering)
Paul's scarlet climber (strong rambler, masses of red flowers, slight scent, short flowering period)

galway bay from
waltz time from casaegiardino.blogspot

Galway Bay (salmon pink flowers, medium scent, excellent repeat flowering, large climber)
Waltz time (Large silvery purple flowers , sweetly scented, medium sized shrub)