My Gardening Week – Spring Will Come

It’s been a very good week here, mostly dry, some sunshine and mild temperatures by day. It was worse last May!

I’ve been waiting such a long time. It feels like warm weather is never coming my way. This week we’ve had torrential rain, hailstones, cold northerly winds and some sunshine. The rain coincided with my first visit of the season to Lismore Castle Gardens, the hailstones arrived just as I was preparing to go cycling and the cold winds persisted every day.

Yes, it’s the middle of January, the slump month hated by millions worldwide. I can’t say I hate it but it’s not near the top of my list.  Anyway, what’s interesting is that the weather account above is early May of last year! This week has been very different. I spent most of Monday tidying up as the temperature was up to 13C. There was no rain, very little wind and good sunshine. Mild as May, I’d be tempted to say.

There’s a lot to be said for having lots of gravel and concrete paths in the garden. It means that there’s no danger of walking on wet compacted soil. I was able to prune the last fuchsia very severely and an acer very lightly without doing any damage.


Most satisfying of all, however, was moving the pelargoniums from this large pot to the glasshouse and replacing them with daffodils.  You see, underneath each plastic pot, there’s another one. I’m able to leave pots permanently in the soil within the larger pot. Then I take plants out and replace them with others. Time taken: five minutes. A bit of colour around the edge wouldn’t go astray. Pansies perhaps?

Each of the pelargoniums needed some work to remove damaged bits. Finally, a light prune  and they’re done. I’ll be hoping to get them back to the front garden in Early June. In the meantime, I’ll keep an eye on them and feed them well from about April onwards.


Bird-feeding is a regular activity here. Mostly we’ve got house sparrows, blackbirds and starlings. When we put out nyer seed the finches arrive. Recently, I’ve noticed that some birds love grapes. We love grapes too but sometimes they do not stay fresh long enough to finish. I’d been in the habit of putting them into the compost bucket near the back door but the birds simply toss everything out to get at them. So, this week I’ve started leaving them on the patio. They don’t last very long.

Slán go fóill,

Pádraig.

Cheering Up My Monday #5

16th January 2017.

It’s Monday again, so time for some cheering up. The good thing is that I’m easily cheered up. It only takes one or two little things. In particular, noticing the little things around the garden while my porridge is undergoing microwave-therapy is enough to get my week off to a good start.

But first, by way of housekeeping, I’m noticing that by reading a wide variety of garden blogs I’m loving all the ideas that come my way, so thank you all for sharing your garden world. Recently, I came across a lovely cycling blog where the author wriites a very short bit after the article along the lines of “Padraig is the author of GrowWriteRepeat”. He does this at the end of each post, but the interesting thing is that he then adds a sentence that links in with the post. This sentence changes for every post. I’m going to try it. If you like, just jump to the end, but don’t forget to return up here. As the weeks and months pass by it is very likely that I’ll have summarised myself so much that I’ll know everything there is to know about ME!

In recent months, I’ve begun collecting three unusual household items. Yes, many of us are collectors. We can be heard saying “Gosh, that would be great in the garden!”, or on the other side of the coin, “Don’t ask me why. It’s for the GARDEN!” In my case, the comments in my household have veered towards the latter.

Let me explain my little idiosyncrasy. We light a stove here from mid-October until April. We burn turf, timber and sometimes coal together with documents that need to disappear. I’m the ash cleaner and fire-manager. I had been disposing of this ash in the rubbish (ok, garbage) bin, but realised I was throwing out a valuable soil enricher. Subsequently, I’ve added two other ingredients to the mix: used tea-bags and eggshells. Ours is a big tea-house, and our egg-quota for any given week is almost a dozen. Now and then a small amount of other items are added as they come to hand, for example small twigs, dead-headed pansies and useless Crystal Palace FC match reports, shredded for effect. These items add texture to the fine fire dust.

On a daily basis, this mix is stored in a large container in the shed. Back in early November, as soon as I’d collected a decent amount of all three, I set to work, churning up this mix with used peat moss, and a small amount of sand/gravel. The result was amazing. November was a good time to do this because the vegetable patch was emptying, so I loosened the soil, added generous quantities of this household-waste mix and worked it in. Now, there’s another load ready.

I do have some questions, however, and perhaps it’s a bit late to ask. Has anyone tried this or something similar? Is there any disadvantage to doing this? Are there any other ingredients that might make the recipe better? I did think about the hygiene implications of storing eggshells but soon overcome any phobias by ensuring that they are reasonably clean (I love my boiled egg, and am thorough in getting out the last little bits) and then store them by crushing them gently before mixing with the previous day’s fire ash. If anyone has further light to shed on this strange activity, please share in comments.

Last autumn I had built some HOTELS for beneficial insects, (on my old blog) and now this soil-enricher really is going to make a further big difference during the year ahead. Let the growing season begin!

Finally, I’m trying to come up with a name for this unusual mix. As yet, I’m at a loss, but there’s no rush. Any little hints from readers will be safely stored on the back-burner for later consideration.

For the record here are the ingredients;

  • fire ash
  • tea-bags
  • eggshells
  • potting compost
  • used compost
  • sand/gravel
  • other small bits and pieces as available, just to keep the original recipe fresh and ever-so-slightly-changing

Happy gardening,
Padraig.

16th January 2017.

About the author: Pádraig is the author of GrowWriteRepeat. He is sometimes noted for unusual hoarding habits and recently has taken to collecting eggshells and teabags. Pádraig is a lifelong Crystal Palace fan. Twitter and Instagram @growwriterepeat

Rain Is Nature’s Magic

24th September 2016.

It’s bucketing down. Not a day to be outside in the garden, but it occurs to me that rain is nature’s magic at work. It’s my magic time also, to sit comfortably inside and realise that the work is being done for me!

Tips to add to the moment:
  • Read the gardening supplement in the Saturday Telegraph
  • Read this week’s issue of Amateur Gardening magazine
  • Add a spoon of brandy to a cup of good coffee
  • Put it all together on a blog to keep the memory

I wrote about some heavy rain a few weeks ago (also on Saturday!) at that time, I opted for a different strategy. Remember the day? There was just a little heavy rain. today there was a lot of heavy rain. If I had to cycle, it would be called poxy rain, but for the garden it’s da bomb.

Pádraig.

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