Week Ending 10 March

Wednesday 6 March

Today I spent two hours at the garden right after work, planting sweet pea, sugar pea and a tiny patch of radishes. After a week of no rain it finally began yesterday, though it’s more of a mist than anything. The soil is still quite dry in spots. Weather continues quite warm.

I planted the sugar peas about 7 inches apart in all directions, filling up one 8 x 16 foot bed with exactly one large packet of seeds. The sweet peas (which I’ve never grown before) went in various corners where a fence post or tree provides an opportunity to climb. I still have loads of those seeds and will find additional spots for them as other things are planted. Each sweet pea got a milk jug cloche (also new for me). I had cut off the bottoms to use as intermediate seed pots, the tops were washed and became cloches. Since our family goes through a fantastic amount of milk each week, I should have plenty of cloches!

There was no one about at the garden, though I could see a few neighbors had been gathering more compost and putting things in. I’d say only about a third of the plots show activity yet this year, the rest are either fresh dug waiting for new owners, or waiting for their owners to come out of winter hibernation and start digging.

Friday 8 March

It has been raining for two days straight, I went out to the garden to rescue some seeds I left under an old doormat, and found 4″ of water in the wheelbarrow (I really need to get a cover for that). The garden soil wasn’t waterlogged thanks to the raised beds and plenty of light compost, but the paths were a quagmire and the spot over where the water spout leaks was soggier than ever. Nothing has disturbed the peas, one of my projects this weekend will be getting a net put over that bed to ensure the new shoots aren’t assaulted by birds.

So instead of working in the garden today, I went on a long walk in the countryside, discovering a new beautiful spot in a river valley with an old stone bridge, mill race, and no one about. I love Ireland. Every time I go on a walk I think, “How could I ever leave?” But I’ve said that about a few other places we have lived too….

All the seed trays are now sprouted, my next task is to find another under-tray and begin planting the next batch of seeds. I have a load of plastic trays repurposed from various grocery store items, plus a good stack of yogurt cups and various odds and ends to use as seed pots. It’s amazing how much plastic garbage we generate just by shopping at the supermarket.
Saturday 9 March

I took Hyrum up today for 1.5 hours to put up a bird net I bought at Lidl (EUR 3 for a 5×4 m net). The hoops are flattened PVC conduit bought at Burke’s Hardware for EUR 1.50 each, four hoops to a box. The nets fit the boxes perfectly, and the hoops are just the right length for a medium-height net (e.g. peas, small fruit bushes). I will need something higher for the raspberries.

The net is very light and we had some trouble attaching it to the sides. We tried bamboo poles threaded through the side ends, which worked OK. For connecting to the hoops I used string and bricks, I will try clothes pins as well, the main concern being the wind which is quite strong here.

Sunday 10 March

Today I spent an hour in the garden even though it was still wet and the mud deeper than ever. Firstly, I noticed that the site owners built more cold frames which they had promised to all new allotment holders this year, so I nabbed my two and carted them up to the garden. I don’t have anything ready to be hardened off yet but will soon enough.

Second job was to put up a row cover I bought at Lidl for EUR 6. This is a cheap PVC job with a clear perforated cover. I am using bricks to secure the sides, and will soon know how well this works in the wind as we had a good blizzard last night.

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