Finally, some planting!

The bank holiday weekend has been and gone. We had a few chances to visit the allotment over the weekend and it seems like many people did, it was great to see so many families out digging and planting at the weekend. The allotment park is starting to take shape. I finally got my netting up on Paddy’s Day. It took me about 4 hours to get it up properly. I hammered my thumb at least four times and stabbed myself with wire constantly, and repeatedly put my hand in my pocket full of sharp staples. Needless to say, my hands were not in the best condition that night.

Probably hammering my thumb...

The plot looks much better now with the netting up and it’s easier to determine the space I have to work with. While I was struggling with the netting, Dave marked out and turned over the soil of the eight main beds in the plot. This means we can just work one bed at a time instead of digging the whole plot at once. I chose to do this because I wanted to get some planting done soon, instead of just digging all the time and seeing no reward.

Planting my Jerusalem Artichokes

On Monday, we visited the plot, despite being a bit worse for wear from a visit to the pub on Sunday. We didn’t stay long but we did finally get something planted, my Jerusalem Artichokes. I only planted two of these tubers as they are prolific growers and I didn’t want to end up with too many come winter. Jerusalem artichokes grow to be about ten foot tall and are a close relative of the sunflower. They are apparently very easy to grow and I’ve been told that if you can’t grow Jerusalem Artichokes you might as well hang up your gardening gloves and throw in the trowel (excuse the pun). I planted them in one of my border beds, on the north side of the plot.

I’ve been watching some very helpful little videos on www.quickcrop.ie. They are very informative, easy to follow and might be helpful to my other beginner gardeners such as myself. The one on jerusalem artichokes is great if you would like to know how to grow them yourself.

What a load of shite

Today, we finally planted my early potatoes. I officially feel like a gardener now. We spent a few hours just digging a bed for them and turning the soil over, I dug in a small amount of well rotted manure to the bed. We planted two rows of Red Dukes of York, this should give us a good yield of early spuds come June/July.

Dave helping to plant the spuds

I also planted some lemon balm and swiss spearmint in my herb/flower border today, finally there’s some greenery on my plot, even if it’s just a little. My dad used to grow lemon balm in the back garden and it was my favourite herb. It not only smells and tastes lovely, it attracts bees, makes a beautiful flavouring for herbal teas and ice-creams and has a wide range of medicinal uses, including calming insect bites which might come in handy on warm summer days on the allotment.

Lemon Balm

Spearmint is, of course, used as a flavouring in many food dishes, teas and drinks. I had a nibble of it today, it’s positively yummy. I’m very much looking forward to making some home made mojitos with my spearmint leaves.

We have lots to get planted in the coming days. Dave dug out the trench for my asparagus and I’m hoping to plant it tomorrow. I also have red onions and shallots to get planted this week. At home, my tomato seeds are doing well, with the exception of my Sungold variety, which for some reason, all died within a few days of germinating, much to my disappointment. They are my first casualty and hopefully the last.

Last week, my mam handed me a leaflet from Sonairte, the national ecology centre in Meath. They have a huge range of courses, including organic gardening for beginners and courses on polytunnel gardening. Some of their courses might be of interest to my fellow allotmenteers.

The weather forecast for the few days is looking good, let’s hope it stays that way so I can get lots of digging done.

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