growing your own fruit, veggies and herbs getting dirty and generally living the good life

Cabbage White Butterfly

cabbage white butterfly female

*image above courtesy genius photographer Darren Greene

The above image is the female Small Cabbage White Butterfly [Pieris rapae], and was taken on one of my garden group hedgerow walks in Ballyboughal.

The small white can look like a [bear with me…] small version of the large white [Pieris brassicae] and should not be confused – but here’s how you spot the difference:

The top of [the small white] its wings is cream white/ almost bleached white in the male with black tips while the females colour is a more cream yellow/ life coffee froth with two black spots in the center of their wings, which is what yuou see above.

The image that we saw first however was this….

cabbage butterfly eggs

The above image is in fact the eggs of the Large Cabbage White Butterfly. This could get mildly confusing I hear you say….but the Small White tends to lay one egg on its own which is light green in colour – almost like a glow in the dark pimple. The eggs above are bright yellow laid in a cluster which makes it that of the Large Cabbage White Butterfly.

Control of these is very simple in that one can just break/ pick off/ crush the eggs – or one can choose to use chemical. I’d nearly grow cabbages just to photograph the eggs again.

Pumpkin Growing

pumpkin female flower (1)

The video and images show in good detail the difference between the male and the female flower of the Jack O’ Lantern pumpkin plant. Much easier in my opinion to differentiate when the plants are seen en mass as versus the few I and you may grow in the garden.

From a seasonal and comparative perspective it may be worthwhile noting the video, photos and audio were recorded 13th August and now you know how I spend my Saturdays, when I’m not in a garden.

That said and as attractive as the crop looks and not to dissuade you from giving it a go, this audio tells a very different story to pumpkin plant growing when not entirely for fun… and is a nice insight into the crop when grown on a large scale and semi-commercially.

A Pumpkin Farm (mp3)

What I would say personally and from experience is that pumpkins are great fun to grow, partly as we know from such a young age what the unusual fruit should look like and from this gardeners perspective it is when others see the plant and my almost empathising with their anticipation of what is to come that I really enjoy.

Once again gardening is all about having a go and you can start growing yours as simply as on a window ledge next year in an old yogurt pot and transfer out once the seeds goes about two weeks past germination. Just make sure you have enough space prepared outside in advance for them and sow about five or six seeds just in case one or two fail.

This post from 2008 is more specifically on growing pumpkins from seed

Let me know how you get on. As always I’m here if and/ or when you need me

Contact Peter

Tomato Plants

The funny thing about these tomato plants is that they are not grown in [new complete with wetting agent type] compost as you can see. Rather the growing medium of choice is soil with some spent compost. Neither should I add have any feeds or fertilisers been used to to solve the mild deficiencies they have developed as a result of the most likely spent soil. In that same breath, one needs to bear in mind that these are not going to be sold on the supermarket shelves.

They were however grown under glass and that by this Irish gardeners logic makes life for the quasi fruit vegetable very easy to control or at the very least a certain amount of external factors.

The main thing to consider at this level of growing is the height to which they wish to grow to and as you may have noticed these plants are guided by wires. Food, pardon the clichéd pun, for thought.

Good gardeners always think a year in advance – so if you are thinking about growing one or three plants you’re absolutely fine and any south facing window will do. Anything more and maybe you might consider a spot in the space outdoors for a greenhouse. Well worth it… they are yummy!

tomato plant

That said and all told I took these two photographs in sandymount about two weeks ago where as you can see tomato plants were being used as a sort of hedge….

tomato plant hedge

That’ll never work one might think and is almost verging on going against Buy’s Ballots Law…. My humour aside, see the fruit en route below. As a by the way, the tomato hedge plants belong to Liz and Martin from Pivotal Communications who got the plants from Jane Powers.

tomato plant hedge

The Fruit Garden

plum tree fruitI returned from my August bank holiday, after four nights camping it out in the great outdoors to a scenario that I thought mildly beyond my belief.

Branches of my plum trees were touching ground level making life really easy for the creatures that aren’t that tall to take a quick nibble of the now purple fruits. The birds, it was obvious to see were quite easily covering the sections a little higher in altitude.

Of a more neglected feel to my great outdoors, the grass was much longer than usual. I’ll very simply put this down to the infrequent yet high enough levels of rainfall and temperatures in their teens that had dappled my sun factor versus rain coat trials, all the while making my grass cutting quite difficult.

But my fruit tree investments are, it seems starting to pay off. The five plum trees from which I have never cropped fruit from before have at last returned a decent harvest. Decent enough I should add to warrant searching for a recipe to prolong their stay in my pantry that is. One should also bear in mind that three of the trees pretty much did nothing at all, but then that’s why I bought five of them.

It goes a little further than that as the pear trees are also starting to dish out their deserts [see what I did there…] and the apple trees, of which I have about four varieties are coming along quite nicely too. Some of them have even started to fall, something I discovered as the ride on lawnmower began to chug slightly across the long grass and the apple squash began to splatter across the nearest window. More chores I thought….

But the trees and bushes aren’t really chores. Not once you plant them that is.

To the other fruits; I have one fig tree and whilst there are some figs, they are nothing really of worth bragging about. Two or three little ones. But in the wee trees defence, it has spent most of its energy fighting the most recent frost it had taken a severe battering from, so I’m more concerned in it getting bigger and stronger for next year than this.

Stepping it down in height from tree to bush, the currants have already delivered and the berries are in the freezer compartment ready for any given Sundays ice cream to be made that little more colourful.

Other than that I have some peach trees, but I have to admit, this pair and I, aren’t really on talking terms at the moment.

As you may have read in my previous writings, I have to move some of the trees come the off season and they’ll also need their usual pruning in a month or three. But then a good decent hair cut never really did hurt anyone and the peaches are top of that pile.

All in all, I look at the fruit I have taken from the investment I made about three years ago now and I wonder, on a sunny Sunday, why would anyone want to go out and start digging the garden so regularly. Why not just dig one hole. And wait.

And in between all of this pondering I’ve got my eye on the brambles that are still in flower flowing out of the neat and not so neatly cut hedges and hedgerows. I’m reminded of my time at the caravan park in Arklow where I spent a lot of my pre-teen summer years. The pots of jam that my Mother used to make when we went picking fruit from the scrub growth I remember eating with a ladle, if I could have fitted it into the jar that is.

This was all so long before I had ever heard of growing your own, or at the very least the cliché of. I somehow seem to prefer planting my my own. Much, much easier I think you’ll agree.

Contact Peter Donegan

Potato: Rooster

I’ve spoke about potato growing before here on the blog. I was out walking a lot over the weekend [july 9th] and of the many fields I met, this one filled with rooster potato.

With some just about to enter flower stage, I thought it may be of interest to those who growing their own were maybe looking for a good comparable, or as was pointed out to me for those who have not seen a potato, in this case a rooster in flower.


rooster flower

A little bit of work yet to go…. and if you have read this far you deserve some trivial potato trivia, courtesy of A Guide To Vegetable Growing, the book I got free from Teagasc.

Potatoes are a half hardy crop that hail from south America and first reached the [Ireland] shores around 1586.

In the words of Michael Caine, not a lot of people know that.

potato rooster