Growing like crazy – and a wedding

A sunny garden picnic Life is busy – but, despite a routine that involves week-long neglect and frenzied activity at the weekend, the cottage garden is thriving! The Boyfriend is a member of the Irish Seed Savers Association so we got a few different types of potatoes from them, planting Cara, Ratte and Arran Banner varieties, along with some Roosters that sprouted in the bottom of the cupboard in March.

They were all – apart from the Roosters, which is a more floury variety and an accidental planting – chosen deliberately for their blight resistant and waxy properties. So far the blight resistance, together with the blight-spray ministrations of a very helpful neighbour, seems to be working so hopefully there won’t be a reprise of the Great Irish Famine in Ballyvoddy (still, there’s always rabbit for the eating…)

The Irish Seed Savers were a great source of interesting-sounding plants, as were a very helpful company called Brown Envelope Seeds. On one of the dark, dreary February nights, while travelling back to Dublin on the train, the Boyfriend and I pored over our catalogues, and after many arguments and discussions, picked what we thought was a restrained amount of seeds. With visions of Ushiki Kuri Squash and Babington Leeks dancing in our heads, there was lots of excitement as the packets arrived. And then, between driving up and down the country on Fridays and Sundays, maintaining full-time jobs in Dublin during the week and busy weekends at the cottage, we had to find time to actually plant them.

Sown with the help of the Little Brother over Easter, the seeds turned out to be extraordinarily fertile and we ended up with an enormous amount of seedlings in old cream, yoghurt and vegetable cartons. It took us quite a while but they were eventually planted out in fits and starts over the last month and we now have Magic Rainbow Chard, Niki’s Cut and Come Again Kale, rocket, tomatoes, celeriac, (lots of) purple sprouting broccoli and Painted Mountain Sweetcorn all safely behind the rabbit proof fence. Although there have been attempts by the rabbits to infiltrate our wee veggie patch, they’ve not yet succeeded and hopefully, fingers very much crossed, won’t manage at all. Due to the kindness of the aforementioned neighbour who has a very well-maintained vegetable garden, we also have leeks and beans planted, along with some garlic, and edible flowers like marigolds, nasturtiums and sunflowers. Our old damson and apple trees have set well, as have the more or less ignored blackcurrant bushes. Lemon thyme, regular thyme, rosemary, parsley, chives and a little bay tree are all thriving in pots by the back door – near enough for me to actually use the herbs – and plants of black peppermint and lemon verbena are settling into place.

The Boyfriend – who next week will become the Husband! – has already plans for the extension of the veggie patch. Black weed-proof matting has been laid in an adjoining block and – mentally, at least – seeds have been sown for next season. I’ve been talking to a gardener at Annes Grove Gardens (a place well worth packing a picnic to visit) about getting artichoke plants for next year and there’s a list of vegetables that we want to grow stuck on the front of the gardener’s encyclopaedia that has become our bible. And it’s all so worth it when you go out into the garden, colander in hand, and are able to pick enough rocket and soft herbs for a delicious, home-grown side-salad. It tastes even better when you can sit outside in the sunshine to enjoy it!

It may be quiet around here for the next couple of weeks as we’re off to spend some time in the cottage before the Boyfriend’s family arrive for next weekend’s wedding celebrations. We’re honeymooning, en famille, down in Baltimore, West Cork so if anyone has any foodie suggestions for the area, they would be very gratefully received! We’re staying at a goat farm and already on the list are Heir Island, The Glebe, Organico and Rolf’s Restaurant. I might even have to try out some of Conor’s recommendations around Bantry and, in a non-foodie context, there’s also Haydn Shaughnessy’s art gallery to visit down in Kilbrittain. A week will be much too short!



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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13 Responses

  1. Laura says:

    Congratulations on the soon-to-be husband Caroline! I love that you are honeymooning in Ireland, the Cote d’Azur has nothing on West Cork in the sun!

  2. bibliochef says:

    So, I admit it, this comment has nothing to do with your entry. I just wanted to say I like the name bibliocook — I use bibliochef at my site, Cooking with Ideas — — was given the anonymous moniker by my parter (who on occasion has called herself bibliobabe.)

  3. Lorraine says:

    Have a fabulous day Caroline, I hope the weather is good to you! Enjoy the honeymoon!!

  4. Caroline says:

    Thanks for the good wishes Laura and Lorraine. If the weather stays anything like it is today, we’ll be completely sorted for our Cote d’Azur-type honeymoon!It’s good to hear from more bibliofriends out there! I got the name Bibliocook as I’m a member of the Bibliofemme bookclub – nice to meet a bibliochef too.

  5. Deborah says:

    Caroline – all the gardening is making me jealous. I don’t know how you do it all.I hope you have the wedding of your dreams and everything goes perfectly! Let’s hope the weather sticks around! We will want to see pictures you know! 😉 Best of luck!

  6. Caroline says:

    Believe me, Deborah, it’s all squeezed into the weekends! So much so, in fact, that on Sunday’s when we set off for Dublin, the Boyfriend and I are so tired that we have to take turns driving while the other grabs a catnap in the passenger seat. We’re really looking forward to spending next week at the cottage and not having to race back to Dublin after a couple of nights!

  7. haydn says:

    Caroline – my apologies. The organic pack is here by my side and if you’re passing by you can alleviate my guilt and get some great John Masters hair products. Please come and get them!!

  8. Congratulations on your upcoming nuptuals Caroline – hope you have a wonderful day which leaves you with many warm memories to cherish throughout a long, happy life together.Very envious of your honeymooning in West Cork – holidayed in Baltimore last summer and feasted on wonderful food. Here are some suggestions, many of which I’m sure are already on your list:The Good Things Cafe – Opening for the summer on June 22nd, but if the dates suit, would be an amazing culinary end to your honeymoon.Mossies in Adrigole – A little hidden gem, worth a trip for the cottage gardens & sea views aloneTaste Deli, Casteltownbere Delicious little boxes of Gubeen delights for a picnic in heaven!O’Callaghan Walshe in Rosscarbery is a great seafood restaurant.and I’m sure you’d love: Otto’s Creative Catering in Dunworley.If you’re in Baltimore, it’s worth checking out Inishbeg I’m sure you have already organised accommodation, but it’s worth trying to get a look at their gardens if you can. They have a lovely walled organic garden and offer freshly laid hens eggs to guests. Their head gardner is full of helpful tips on organic gardening.Speaking of gardening, you’d also really enjoy Peppermint Farm where Doris & Achim have a wonderful herb nursery. Got some gorgeous verbena there last year and have been enjoying delicious teas ever since!That’s probably more than enough!Hope you have a wonderful, wonderful time.

  9. Maria says:

    Hi Caroline,Sounds like the garden is thriving!!! Looking forward to the wedding – see you Saturday!

  10. Caroline says:

    Thanks for all the suggestions Jenny – do you know, a lot of those places had slipped my mind. Haven’t had much of a chance to do my research for the area. It’s all getting a bit mad busy around here this week!Hayden – would love to call in to you while we’re about, especially if the weather is anything like it is here today, with plenty of thunderstorms. Fingers crossed we make it.Maria, looking forward to seeing you on Saturday. Think you’re going to have plenty of cousins come to stay!!

  11. Maeve says:

    Caroline, I’ve just figured out from the various comments that the wedding was probably on Saturday. Hope you had a fantastic day, congratulations!! Hope you have a very happy and long life together. Next time you’re in Cork give me a bell and we’ll meet up for a celebratory coffee. We were celebrating Lizzie’s first birthday on the 16th we had a wonderful party. Enjoy the honeymoon. Love Maeve

  12. Cameron Wallace says:

    Hi Scott and Caz,Where are the wedding photos. hope the week down in Baltimore was fantastic. I’m still recovering from the crazy dancing at your wedding, sorry, party.Cam

  13. Caroline says:

    Thank you Maeve – will definitely have to meet up the next time I’m down in Cork. Life should be a lot calmer from now on! And am looking forward to meeting Lizzy the next time too.No photos yet, Cam, and you aren’t the only one recovering from the crazy dancing! And thank you for The Cook’s Companion. Just what the Kiwi wants – an Australian cookbook in the kitchen! I love it and it’s getting referenced on everything from silverbeet gluts to ingredients that will go with the rhubarb sitting in the fridge. Think it’s going to be particularly useful for dealing with the produce of our demented garden!

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