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Sorrel – Rumex acetosa

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Not to be confused with the common dock, also Rumex, which may cause mild stomach upset if ingested.

To the sorrel, I simply love it. It is one of the greatest plants I have ever invested money in. And one of the easiest plants one could ever grow in terms of culinary and kitchen salad plants.It also just keeps coming up year after year and all you have to do is pull its leaves off and eat them.

I didn’t grow these ones from seed, although I have sown some recently. I just bought them as established plants. Recommended propagation is suggested by root division [yeah right….] and and there really isn’t a whole lot to it after that.

My advice buy three of them. Once planted they are there for life. Extremely resiliant, tough and well able for the Irish weather.

They are great for salads and although it is recommended for soups I have never used it for that. I like to grab a big handful of the stuff, stems included, fine chop it and toss it in with whatever else is available in the garden. That said my good photographer friend Tommy Lehane tells me that sorrel soup is made as follows

Good chicken stock + a potatoe + small amount of cream/butter to finish. Drizzle with truffle oil … yum!

There is no point, in this case, in me talking about it being of polygonaceae etc… as the Rumex is a genus of about 200 species and all we are interested in, really, in this case, is the common sorrel.

May In The Garden

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I’m slightly delayed on getting this one out…. but, I’m sure you possibly lazed up the sunshine last weekend and now you want to get the garden grooving.

Since my April In The Garden Post, plant life has gone mental. Thank God. Temperatures are well up… in fact I think I got sunburnt yesterday. The grass was cut twice in the last two weeks and thats only the fourth cut this year. Makes a change considering the amount of gardens I’m working in where plants have literally got blasted by the frost and low temperatures and are now being repalced….

So what will I be doing in my garden this month….

My lettuce is being used and thrown in with some sorrell… My spinach [image 1] is just about ready for cropping. I won’t be cutting an entire head of it… more just selecting a few leaves as required. The turnips on the other hand is a totally different story but you can see from the image above [image 2] that the first seed leaves [now purple] are ready to drop off and the plant is going to get ready to produce me something nice to cook. I grew mine in the old wheelbarrow.

In the garden everything is bumper. The daffodils have gone out of flower and are heading towards die back… I’ll give it another week or two before I run the lawnmower over them. I’m also on the last dregs of the tulips in my garden [image 2] but they were amazing while they lasted. In their place I have the Prunus amanagowa  cherry tree [image 3]  and also my edible cherries [image 1] and they are blooming. Not much to do there except wait for the fruit.But with them come the apple trees and that’s definitely one fruit I am looking forward to.

In other herb news the bay [image 1] is in flower, the fennell despite all the frosts are back with new shoots and the rosemary is also producing some nice blooms. You couldn’t really ask for more. Assuming you followed my bits of advice over the last few months you should be good. But do make sure and give them a cut back if required… grabbing a clump for the cooking usually helps this along.

My chives are something I may divide up, but for the moment they are getting a regular haircut. I’ve not had much luck growing them from seed… but I’m going to put that down to the slugs 🙄 The starwberrries on the other hand are growing well but are a while off producing fruit. That said it may be a bumper crop for my rhubarb this month. Pie anyone ?

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The biggest problem with this rain and warm temperatures though is the weeds. They are still plants, they just don’t know that we don’t like them 😉 In controlling them, I like to strike a balance between the back break and so I weed by hand in between my food crops and tend to spray in between my shrubs and trees. I think thats fair.

I’m going to continue sowing random bits of veg and herbs as the mood takes me – but I need to be careful I don’t end up farming with the amounts that I am growing. That said my neighbours seem to like me that little bit more and I have literally tons of window boxes and planters to get ready this weekend. I am going to be so busy.

Outside I just need to keep things watered… every evening this week I’ve been soaking my seed trays but then it has been raining while I’ve been sleeping [?] and I have an endless supply with my two water butts by my side.

Did I miss out on anything…. ? Leave a comment and let me know. Other than that happy gardening. 😀

The GIY Rathgar Terenure Talk

 

I got an email in some time ago from a friend of mine. Séan wanted me to do a talk on growing your own. He is a member of a new movement call GIY – grow it yourself – that seems to be sweeping the nation.

I had heard about GIY but I didn’t really know a vast amount of exact facts about it being honest. The talk I did was Monday, just gone, April 27th

The GIY movement was set up to encourage people to get together to share expertise in food growing.As we have become increasingly urbanised we have lost a lot of the knowledge and skills that our grandparents had in food growing, storing and cooking. GIYIreland aims to tap into our desire to reduce food miles and to produce and consume organic food by organising groups at a local level so that people can learn those old skills from each other and connect with like-minded individuals. GIY Ireland has charitable status.

As regards the group I was to speak to Séan sent me this wee note….

The Rathgar/Terenure GIY group was set up at a meeting in the Rathgar Junior School (RJS), 62 Grosvenor Road in February 2010. We have a mix of allotment growers, garden owners and those with just a balcony to grow on. Most of the group are beginners but there are some experienced members and we hope to bring in experts to share their knowledge and expertise. Our group numbers about 30-40 very enthusiastic amatuers and we would welcome more members.

In this case [and in short] I spoke about how I used to grow plants under my bed when I was 4 all the way up to today…. and that pretty much not a whole lot has changed if you elminate 20 odd years of decking, cobble and garden design fads. In that same breath horticulture has only changed in how it is presented, packaged and sold…. the way in which it is done, for fun, shall never alter. And in those four/ five lines [compressed] that took an extremely refreshing [one member commented after] a little over 45 minutes 😉

I must admit I had just left the coombe hospital and hadn’t eaten. But the reception I got was amazing. The appreciation shown and the wee gift given and beautifully wrapped left me breathless. Sincerely, it was an absolute honour to speak to such a fine group gentleman and ladies.

The format then is that the group sit in ‘pods’ [a small group] and discuss a specific topic helping each other out with their star bit of advice. The pod I was in ended up discussing composting. I was blown away…. but as I later answered in th Q & A [the final part of the meet] everything, not living anymore must decompose – the only thing that may vary is the preparation and how you do it. As long as your smiling at the end 🙂

GIY Rathgar/ Terenure meet on the last Monday of the month in the RJS. For more info email: dalysmith [at] iol [dot] ie or phone Sean on [vodafone prefix]6369636

*other images of GIY talk

Another Grow Your Own Gardening Course

NEXT CLASS: tomorrow saturday April 17th 9.30am – 3.30pm

***if you are stuck for directions to Ballyboughal and then to my house you can contact me on [vodafone prefix and then add….]6594688

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I did the grow your own gardening course about 2/3 weeks ago now…. It wasn’t until I was out recently at an event and I was beig asked was I doing another as the wife would love to do it…. Then a neighbour popped by…. he’d love to too…. then online I got it…

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So the response from the last/ first class was good. The demand for a second one seems to be there…. that’s also good. It’s now simply a case of can I get the numbers to make a day of it….? That bit is up to you.

Who is the Garden Class for:

  • those who wish to be green but not a full time farmer.
  • those with an apartment balcony or you that simply just wish to grow a bit on a space about that size
  • For those who work 24/7 and watch tv but are willing to do a bit

Whats the day like:

  • real coffee & homemade buns on arrival @ 9.30am – with an intro chat amongst the group
  • then outdoors until around around 12.30
  • homemade lunchin the kitchen until around 1.15
  • back out until about 3pm and finish with a fresh cuppa/some homemade biccies and a chat.
  • to take place in Ballyboughal [it’s near Swords/ North Dublin ;) ]

Other info:

  • Places are limited to a maximum of 10 people.
  • Cost is €60 per person
  • I supply everything you need. You get to to bring it home with you.
  • laughing is encouraged
  • original post on the garden class here

Louise’s post really does summarise it very well

Wanna come along ?

  • Pop your name[s] in the comment box below.
  • email me info[at]doneganlandscaping[dot]com
  • phone me on [vodafone prefix and then] 6594688

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The Red Exhaust Pipe Bird Feeder

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Building a garden recently I was asked for something unusual as a feature for the garden. My imagination being what it is, the idea coming to mind is never a problem. It is however a problem for some clients [?] when they can’t see what has never existed before and ultimately a level of trust and/ or a pre-requisite of an also zany imagination is necessary. The alternate. Buy something off the shelf.

On this occasion it was a small garden. The red dead tree was referred to and also I was told….

I want something that is different, unique, unusual, practical, not 17th century type symetry, a little bit out there… but it’s got to be a looker…

Like I always said the rollling stones on vinyl may cost a fiver second hand… but will always be better than than the €50 double cd remastered

Of course, as simple as it may sound, there’s actually about 3 days work in this thing. The main issue being that it would hold upright with it being so top heavy and the fact that the pipe supporting was not straight…. that said I think it’s really cool.

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View more images of the Red Exhaust Pipe Bird Feeder here

What I had done, with my good friend and welder genius George was to take the replacement exhaust pipe for my Daewoo Musso jeep [a 2.5 merc engine btw], give it a labotomy in an attempt to reduce the weight of the combustion chamber; weld some re-bar and other bits to the base so that concrete-less it would still stand upright; paint it burning red and rivet some refelective metal to it allowing us to hook in a bird feeder… then we dropped it into a new look and rebuilt garden…. of course there was a lot more to it than that…. but you get my gist 😉