Thursday, 20 February 2014

Sowing onions from seed

There can never be enough onions , I wish I had a field!
The sun is shining (between pelting showers) but regardless of the weather today is the day for sowing onions from seed.I finally got my module trays(7cellx12cell) from Garden World at 9am sharp this morning.This year I am trying out module trays on the advise of Klaus Laitenberger who swears by sowing three onion seeds per module and transplanting all three to the next stage before separating them out in the outside bed.Usually I use an open tray and broadcast the seeds, but these Letrim Germans might be on to something, and I'll never know unless I try.

I'm experimenting with compost this year too. I'm trying out a new worm castings compost called Celtic Gold which I got in Raheen Co-op last week.Supposedly the addition of 10% worm castings boosts plant growth by 100%, on the downside the remaining 90% is peat based. Great stuff peat, but not sustainable unfortunately. And while I'm not exactly wearing hemp clothes and living off grid  you can't escape the pressures on our resources.

Seamus has resurrected the heavy duty propagator and it's all set up in the Utility, with only a few cat paw prints so far-Ginger has yet to break in properly to sleep on it as he did last year, knocking pots, flattening seedlings, (well hes a bit large and clumsy)and causing general chaos. This year the plan is to put a cloche over it to make it harder for him to find a way in. But you know cats, they would sit on your head to get a bit of heat, so I'll be dubiously optimistic until I see otherwise. Expect me to post photos of him caught rotten, trying to pretend he is invisible!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Hurricane season

Will I ever get home?
Well lads, what a bloody day.

The centre in Kilmallock was evacuated at 1.30pm when the storm had knocked out the power and heating and people were starting to panic about getting home.Birdie was stranded ( "my fella" as she calls her long suffering husband, was stuck in traffic in Mallow)so I offered to take her home.
Easier said than done!

from Old Pallas to Pallasgreen
We set off at the height of the hurricane, luckily for me Birdie talked non stop distracting me from the wild rocking of the van and absolute howling of the wind outside.The centre of town was closed, a man in a high vis jacket was busy directing cars elsewhere, (afterwards I found out slates and bricks had been flying across the road) so we took an alternate route round the back of the town.It all looked good until the truck ahead of us suddenly pulled in and I flew past him only to find a huge tree blocking the whole road.Birdie did the swearing for me, even berating the council for lack of signs! But a few roads later it became obvious the council couldn't keep up with the rate of falling trees. Every road out of town was blocked and all I could do was drop off Birdie and take myself in resignation to the Deerbert Hotel for a cup of coffee and commiseration with the other people similarly stranded in the foyer of the hotel.

It was like the start of a bad horror film. Strangers stranded in a hotel, the power out, the staff trying to look after everyone as best they could, all eyes on the door for fresh arrivals and updates on yet more roads closed and yet more trees down. I looked out at one stage, watching the trees across the road (luckily there are no trees near the hotel) buckle and flail in the wind, and thought, I'm stuck here for the night!! But two coffees and one old lady later the news arrived; the town had reopened, the winds had dropped, and there might be a way home after all. Woo hoo!

Two hours later I finally got home!

Kilmallock to Bruff Road

It should have taken me 25 minutes, but between trees down, council crews with chainsaws, diversions, power lines flailing like ribbons, floods and deadly back-roads it was the longest commute of my life. I have to take my hat off to everyone on the council crews and the local farmers with machinery and chainsaws who worked flat out to clear the roads. The nicest man I met was near home, a cheerful farmer in a tractor clearing debris off a back road " don't go down there" he told me, "there are five trees down in the next mile alone!". I thanked him profusely and told him to mind himself as we talked casually underneath a huge tree leaning dramatically at a 45 degree angle across the road. He had just picked up his chainsaw to start cutting it down. "Tis a pity about this tree" he said, "I thought it would escape, it stood strong all morning, and that other bloody tree( he tilted his head to the other side of the road) I hoped would fall is still standing!"

The beautiful weeping willow in my neighbors garden that has been the backdrop to so many springs and summers here was the last tree I met across the road as I finally saw home. I cant tell you how sad it made me to see it lying prostrate on the road, it was so beautiful, and I had loved seeing it fill with new leaves each Spring. Not any more. No doubt in the middle of all this chaos, aside from the practicality of clearing roads, people are saddened to lose some much loved trees.

This tree on the Dromkeen back-road took the ditch with it!
I got home, parked up and congratulated myself on still being in one piece. Then I walked around the corner. to..absolute carnage; portable greenhouse shredded, BBQ stripped, roof ripped from the dog house, outdoor furniture stripped, plastic sun lounger half way down the garden in several nonredeemable pieces, cowl from the roof deposited in the hedge but worst of all part of a metal fence(where the hell did that come from?) resting casually against the glasshouse having obliterated half the glass and beheaded several plants on its journey over the hedge. I spent the next two hours with Seamus picking up glass and moving precious plants indoors getting colder and hungrier as hail beat down on us.But good news! the electricity is still on, there is a blazing fire in the stove and I am typing this with Ginger lying across me on one side and Seamus on the other, one purring the other snoring! so for now at least the worst is over.

I hope all of you are OK tonight and in one piece after a unforgettable crazy day . Eliza I hope your beautiful old trees are all still standing.

The end of the lovely weeping willow