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!