An unsettled start to August

Hello and welcome to my blog! Here in Ireland, we have enjoyed some glorious weather this summer. Near the end of July we had two full weeks of sun, heat and stillness with no rain. It was amazing (and unusual)! The garden is now appreciating the long drinks of water it has been getting the past week. There is a distinct change in the air, though, that fall is not too far off. The garden is in a constant state of flux, and it is fun to note it with a simple meme of ‘Six on Saturday’, hosted by The Propagator. Let’s see what’s in store this week!

Blueberries in hand in July
Bowl of Blueberries 5 August

1 – Blueberries! I planted blueberry shrubs in my garden quite a few years ago. From the beginning, it seemed they didn’t really enjoy our garden. They always seemed to drop their berries before turning blue! But it turns out, the birds had more to do with this than I realized. I didn’t mind too much, since to me the plants were spectacular in the fall with their leaves turning from green to crimson. This year, though, with the garden revamp, we decided to spend some extra time to see if we could get some blueberries for us to eat! We first spread out the older shrubs as they were getting quite cramped. Also this season, we added Sulphate of Iron to the soil. I believe it was Laura, from Garden Answer, who suggested it in one of her videos. The third thing we did differently this year was we added netting. Although it wasn’t the pretties of setups, it did the job, and the blueberries stayed on the shrubs until they were blue! I picked two small bowls of blueberries, and a few times I just went out and ate a handful. They were delicious! We will hopefully figure out a ‘prettier’ way to cover them next year.

Garlic in June
Garlic harvest July 11

2 – Garlic! Last October we planted our over wintering organic garlic Vallelado. It is very easy to plant garlic! They should be planted between the end of October and the end of November, ideally. Plant at a depth of three to five inches (7.6 cm) and six inches apart. I harvested mine the beginning of July and they have been drying out in our shed since. The only other thing I did was weed the bed a few times. We also had a relatively dry spring, so I kept it watered. So easy, and so tasty!

lavender and shaved plant
The lavender plant looks like it got a shave!
Dana with lavender harvest
There’s some lavender left on the plant beside me.

3 – Lavender! I’m a bit late on writing about this one, too. Lavender is usually harvested in July. I managed to still cut some in August this year as our growing season was a bit off due to a strange spring. I love working with lavender! I made a few fresh lavender wreaths this year (as opposed to dried lavender wreaths). I didn’t make any Lavender Wands this year, though. (You can check out how I make them here.) There just wasn’t any time. If you do dry lavender, it is worth noting that the flowers keep their scent for years!

Double lilies in rose bed
Lotus Dream Mix
double lilies on deck
Magic Star lilies in a container on my deck.
Double lilies
Double Surprise lilies blooming before the plain white variety of lilies bloom.

4 – Double lilies! New to my garden this season are two groups of lilies: I purchased a Lotus Dream Mix of double oriental lilies and planted them in my rose bed. I also added a Magic Star lily to my container garden, on my back deck. These join my ‘double surprise’ lilies, which live next to my largest lavender plant off of the back deck and are neighbors to a plain white variety of lilies that are always last to bloom later in August. I love scented flowers, and these beauties have a wonderful scent that can be noted without having to bend down to specifically smell them!

Perovskia Russian Sage
Perovskia atriplicifolia Little Spire or Russian Sage

5 – Perovskia atriplicifolia Little Spire! I have to confess that when my friend Susan exclaimed how fabulous my Perovskia looked, it took me a minute to realize she meant the Russian Sage. I’m just not very good at proper names. Hopefully now I’ll remember this one! This plant was purchased as a small plant in 2017 and seems to be quite happy. If you like to dry flowers, this one keeps its purple stems for quite a long time before fading.

Pumpkin arch update 7 Aug 2021 with rainbow
The rainbow is quite faint, but can bee seen right over the pumpkin arch in the above picture!
Back of pumpkin arch 7 Aug 2021
A view of the back of the arch.
Pumpkin arch update 7 Aug with sun
The blue sky backdrop is harder to come by these days. I captured this in a very short window between heavy rain showers! We’ll see if the vines climb any higher.

6 – Pumpkin Arch update! The arch has two different types of squash growing on it: Jack O’Lantern pumpkins and Red Kuri squash. The pumpkins are growing quite large. I usually grow baking pumpkins which are medium to small size. These guys are getting huge. I’m not exactly worried, but I think it would be better if they didn’t get so big! The Red Kuri squash start out yellow and then change from orange to a reddish color. They are medium sized. Some have started to change color already. You can’t really see any of that just yet since all of the leaves are still in the way! I will have to try and get some close up pictures so you can see the squash and pumpkins. I’m wondering if it won’t grow any higher, either. It doesn’t seem to have grown ‘up’ this past week, although the outside vines of some of the plants are still growing out. We’ll see. It certainly is getting plenty of rain this week.

That’s my garden update! I hope you are enjoying your summer, no matter what the weather is like. 🙂

In Peace,

Garlic wins as Easiest, most Rewarding item to plant in the garden!

playhouse with geraniums

In 2014 I had geraniums around the playhouse. Today, I have lavender, roses and bleeding hearts because I find perennials easier than annuals.

Hi there! This post is about conveying that gardening doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” past-time. We started out spending quite a bit of time in the garden (read: Every.Spare.Minute.). But as our family is growing-up, and our interests are growing (can you say that?), we are spending less time in the garden. Given how precious time is, it is important that we only grow what we have time to care for. That means that we grow what is easy!  And the top of that “easy to grow” list is garlic.

freshly harvested (Cristo) garlic

Freshly harvested organic Cristo garlic (from last summer)

I am still a stickler about not using chemicals in the garden, and I source organic seeds/plants. Fruit Hill Farm, based in Cork, has been a great resource for organic growing, and I’ve been quite happy with the garlic which they have provided. I’ve only used two varieties: Cristo and Vallelado. I like garlic that is planted in the fall and harvested in the summer. It is nice to have some growth in the garden over the winter, and it requires very little maintenance. The rewards are huge, as the taste of home grown garlic is far superior to store-bought garlic, if I do say so myself. 🙂

organic Vallelado Garlic label

Fruit Hill Farm, based in Cork, is where I buy my organic seeds and plants.

“Winter garlic” can be planted any time in the fall. The rule of thumb is to get your cloves in the ground before Christmas, to ensure (in Ireland) that they get enough time in soil that is cold enough. My husband enlisted the help of our youngest daughter to assist with planting. We’re using different beds for the garlic this year,  and since I had cleared the two beds of weeds following our pumpkin harvest a while back, they could set to work straight away.

bowl of garlic cloves on cleared planting bed

a bowl of organic garlic cloves and a prepared bed

My husband made the holes in the soil and my daughter placed in the cloves (pointy side up). It is nice to get the kids involved. (I hope they think so too!)

soil with holes for planting

not too difficult… although I hope they turned that clove pointy side up!

If you’d like more step-by-step instructions, you can click here to my earlier post about how easy it is to grow garlic. We planted Vallelado this year.  It is good for storing, which I can attest to. After harvesting and drying out in the summer, I keep mine in a paper bag in a closet in our (somewhat cold) utility room. It will last all winter long, and you will have plenty to give away to friends, too.

freshly planted garlic beds

Two freshly planted garlic beds.

garlic and geranium sitting on wall

a throwback to 2013 🙂

Sometimes, I can get all caught up in life in a too serious kind of way. This is never a good idea! There is something to be said about getting older and wiser, though. Thankfully, I do find myself recognizing when I’m getting a bit too serious, and I can work on changing gears. A lot of this has to do with balance, or being out of balance. You know: work/family/house/garden/…me! 🙂 And that is why we only plant the easy stuff in the garden!

wreath made with garlic, dried artichokes and dried roses

Garlic wreath with artichokes and roses

And if I find myself getting too serious, I go and make a wreath with anything and everything I can gather from the garden!!! Because inevitably, that puts a smile on my face.

Will you join me in planting garlic this fall? There are still a few more weeks left to do so!

In peace,

Organic Garlic sitting pretty in a hand carved wooden bowl

Harvest of Winter Planted Garlic

Harvest of Winter Planted Garlic

Growing garlic is easy.  Most things are easy to grow, actually.  It might be a bit harder if you have a cat that likes to dig up the beds, but if you can keep that under control you’ll be laughin’!   I won’t mention any kitty names…

So sweet ...

So sweet …

I posted loads of garlic pictures and a “how to” list in a previous post.  You can see that here:



Still waiting... (beets/beet root are in front bed)

Still waiting… (beets/beet root are in front bed)

After waiting and watching all winter, spring and part of the summer, last week it was finally time to harvest the garlic.  It is now drying out.  I am absolutely delighted with the size of them!

Vallelado garlic

Organic Vallelado garlic up close.  Look at the size of those individual cloves!

We planted a lot of garlic, which is good.  We use a lot, and now I have spare to share.  And share I did, with my friend Catherine.  Look what she did with my garlic!

Chicken pasta salad with roasted peppers served with garlic bread

Chicken pasta salad with garlic, roasted peppers and rocket (arugula) and served with garlic bread

Talk about being spoiled!  She and her ten year old daughter made this for my daughter and I.  What a lovely afternoon we had together.

Lunch is served

Lunch is served! Catherine also enjoys living in the countryside.

The garlic bread was especially yummy!  They used our fresh garlic, Parmesan cheese, and butter on toasted sourdough bread.

fresh garlic bread

fresh garlic bread

Isn’t it fun to share? 😉

Not to change the subject, but did you happen to notice the wooden bowl that my garlic is sitting in?  No?  I’ll show you again:

Garlic in wooden bowl

Garlic sitting pretty in our hand crafted wooden bowl

I love it.  It is pretty special, too, since it was given to us as a wedding gift.  Oh the story gets better!  The wood used is from a tree that was felled from my husband’s grandparent’s home place.  Isn’t that neat?

Spanish Chestnut hand made wooden bowl

Hand crafted Spanish Chestnut wooden bowl

Spanish Chestnut wooden bowl

Spanish Chestnut wooden bowl.  I’m using our Irish woolen blanket to prop it up.  I love Irish handmade items!

It was crafted by Gerard Fox from a Spanish Chestnut tree and is simply beautiful.

Gerard Fox is the craftsman

Gerard Fox is the craftsman

It is nice to be able to use it, even if just for rather dirty garlic! I love having such beautiful things all around…

Sweet Pea

Sweet Pea with a backdrop of end of season lavender

like sweet pea in a vase…

I hope you have lots of beautiful things all around you, too.
Enjoy the moment!


Fall plantings of Green Manure (it’s just Rye!) & Organic Vallelado Garlic



Green manure? “What’s that?” was my thought just a few months ago.  A very simple explanation is that green manure is a crop which is planted to protect the soil from eroding and losing nutrients, while adding to the goodness of the soil.  🙂

Rye (green manure)

A whole bag of Rye (green manure)

I am learning this as I go along!  I spoke with a very helpful gentleman at Fruit Hill Farm in Cork .  I loved how patient he was with me, and how he seemed to really enjoy sharing his knowledge.  He suggested planting rye given the time of year and when I want to plant again.  Planting it in the fall after my summer harvest, I can leave it for a few months.  When it reaches about 18 inches high I should cut it back (so it doesn’t go to seed).  Then in February/March it should be dug deep into the soil.  The bed will then be “good to go” in April.

One of the beds after digging up the soil and planting rye.

One of the beds after digging up the soil and planting rye.

“The Complete Gardener” by Monty Don gives a great description of the scientific process of what is actually going on in the soil. (note to self: return Susan’s book to her!) Yeah, what I understand is that nitrogen is added to the soil, which is good, and the organic material of the rye plant is broken down by the healthy organisms in the soil, which is good for the soil structure.  So there is no need to add compost to the soil after this process.  The plan is that the rye will grow in place of weeds which would inevitably grow.  Win. Win. Win.

A new bed planted with rye.

A new bed planted with rye.

Fall look at the veggie beds.

Fall look at the veggie beds.

Well, let’s just wait and see (with fingers crossed)!  The beds looked nice after I dug up the soil and planted.  That is rather funny to re-read.  Nice lookin’ soil there!

Rye planted in the garlic bed.

Rye planted in the former garlic bed.

I was also planting garlic.  It is more common here to plant garlic in the fall than in the summer.  So this is the year I’m going to give it a try.  What also helped to spur me on is that I told another blogger that I’d do it! Thanks Claire from Promenade Plantings!

Organic Autumn Planting Garlic -  Vallelado (in front bed)

Organic Autumn Planting Garlic – Vallelado in front bed. Swede (turnip) are in the back bed.

I didn’t actually take any pictures of the garlic itself. Hmm, that was silly.  But the above photo is where I planted it – a lot of it!  🙂  With every planting I always have that teeny tiny bit of doubt! But I try to overpower it with lots of hope!

Organic Autumn Planting Garlic -  Vallelado planted next to the Brussels Sprouts.

Organic Autumn Planting Garlic – Vallelado planted next to the Brussels Sprouts.

Rowan tree

Rowan tree

I have a Mom in the Garden facebook page (of course!) and posted a couple of pics of our Rowan tree.

Rowan tree.

Rowan tree.

It has orange berries that really stand out at this time of year!

Rowan berries from October.

Rowan berries from October.

Rowan berries from November.

Rowan berries from November.

A quick on-line search reveals all sorts of recipes for making Rowan berry jellies & jams & wine!  We’ll have to see about that … another day.

November look at the garden.

November look at the garden.

We’ve had some beautiful weather lately.  I hope you have too!

Happy fall!