Bawk Bawk – CHICKENS!!

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I could not leave this monumental event in my life pass me by without a blog post. Proudly introducing Augusta, Demellza (I’m partial to Poledark), Molly and Polly. They are fabulous hybrids and settling in so well. Sending lots of thanks to the fab family who run FarmFowl in Wicklow, Ireland. We had a lovely experience buying the very lovely chicken coop and the hen’s from you all and your help was greatly appreciated.

For years and years I have been wishing and hoping for chickens, I grew up with hens and they evoke such lovely memories, and those delicious eggs! My husband needed a LOT of convincing, and he has come around at last. I appreciate that everyone in the household needs to be on the same page, as it is a team effort. The chickens are POL’s or point of lay. They will start to lay over the next week or so. Each chicken will lay one lovely egg per day and will continue to do so for up to 4 years! We are an egg loving family and it makes sense to have organic, free range eggs on demand.

My mini chicken farmer has taken to the job really well! It is so great to see a 5 year old full of self discipline and confidence that she can do the jobs needed to keep the chickens in tip top shape. I can’t wait to see the look on Eabha’s face when the eggs arrive!

So I am learning about chicken care and I love it. I have found some great tips and would welcome any advice from any other chicken keepers out there. Any questions please ask and I will gladly share anything I know!

Interesting fact: Did you know chickens are related to the T-Rex!! Read more here.

Give me hope – Green Johanna

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It is that time of the year again when the back yard compost bin produces the most lovely black compost fit for the most royal of my flowers and veggies. I was very lucky to receive a Green Johanna and Pet Pooh Loo from Great Green Systems as part of My Waste Free Home initiative where I am taking care of my own home’s waste on site.

My Waste Free Home means that I needed to find an environmentally friendly solution for all my house hold waste needs. Reducing my costs as I would be using my local recycling centers for the vast amount of items that can be recycled, so many more recyclable items can be recycled here that can go in your green waste collected by waste providers – saving stuff from landfills and reducing your house hold waste costs. At the moment I still have a bin for landfill but there is very little going in here. I hope to create a scheme where neighbours can share the cost and service of a bin for landfill as once you have your Waste Free Home implemented it runs very efficiently.

Food waste is a huge factor in everyone’s home, there is always stuff to throw out. For me the solution was to have a hot composter where everything from the kitchen could go and break down into my garden compost. Even meat and fish remains can safely be discarded – keeping your bins smell free!

The Green Johanna works amazingly well. I have mine since autumn last year (2013) and I put all of my food and garden waste into it throughout the winter. The result is some amazingly fresh smelling black compost that has been applied to my roses, rhubarb and worked into the soil. The compost must be turned regularly to keep it on track to break down more efficiently – something I need to do more of, it also give your body a good workout doing this!

It is a great feeling to be able to solve some of your own waste issues and the Green Johanna, in my opinion should be installed in every home. Having a composting system also helps children understand nature that little bit better, emptying the kitchen compost bin is also a great chore!

Happy composting everyone!! 🙂

 

The Amazing Sunflower.

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I love Sunflowers they are the skyscrapers of the flower world, sunny by name and sunny by nature. They are bee loving plants and my lord have they some history and science behind them! These facts might help you out some time, somewhere and you might least expect it…

  • They were brought to Europe in the 16th century, and are native to S.America and Mexico.
  • They are the most economically important plants – Oil, animal feed, paper, latex – yes sunflowers produce latex!
  • The pattern of the sunflower’s florets (the circle containing small flowers crowned together) actually have a mathematical model, expressed in polar coordinates. This model was devised by H.Vogel in 1979.
  • There is a sun flower with the name ‘Irish Eyes’
  • In 2009, the tallest Sunflower stood at 8m in Germany and was recorded in the Guinness book of records.
  • The most astounding fact I discovered about Sunflowers was they are used for Phytoremediation to extract toxic ingredients from soils. Such as lead, arsenic and uranium.
  • And they were used to remove caesium-137 and strontium-90 from a nearby pond after the Chernobyl disaster and a similar campaign was mounted in response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Amazing facts for an amazing plant. I love to teach children about nature, and for me Sunflowers are the best plants for showing children how versatile nature is. They also show children how plants grow and can introduce them to gardening in a fun way. You can also explain about bees and honey as the sunflower will attract bees from miles away.

I had a sunflower plant in my garden this year, I saved the heads and dried them out to preserve the seed. This will give me a free crop of sunflowers for next year saving me a few bob and giving satisfaction – once they grow!

Find out more about the Sunflower Here.

Gardening Tips that I have picked up along the way!

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I am still getting into the groove in my garden and have yet to start my vegetable garden, but over the last year here are a few tips that I have learned and really work!

“Don’t be afraid of moving plants around, if they don’t work, or if you don’t like them in a certain spot – move it! Most of my plants think they have wheels…” – Hillary from Tucked Away House, Grassington in Yorkshire Dales. Hillary really had a fab English country garden, see picture above. She gave great advice and really got me interested in raised beds and different bee friendly plants.

“Your garden should have different, interesting places to relax and unwind” – I cannot remember the website that I read this from, but it really helped when we were designing our garden. We wanted to maximize the sun that arrived in a few spots from morning to evening, front and back of our house. So we created paved and stoned areas so we can put up a small two-seater table for breakfast time sun, a bench for relaxing in the mid day sun and a dinning table and chairs for dinner time.

“Things want to grow” and “I kept an eye out and learned through trial and error.” – Joanna Madden, Lady of the Manor at Hilton Park, Clones, Co Monaghan. Taken from an interview in IMAGE magazine’s September 2013 issue page 169.  What good advice, things do want to grow and all you have to do is keep an eye out!

Happy gardening, I hope you all get those green fingers dirty!

 

 

Orchid Lover.

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I Love Orchids and here are my top tips for keeping these oriental plants in pristine condition. This is my repotted version above. I had numerous plants that just didn’t look great when on their own as they bloomed at different times of the year, and then looked a bit stalky for the rest of the time. So what I did was bought a bag of orchid compost, found a really nice bowl shaped pot and replanted them. It worked a treat and my orchids have loved the company!! Now if you think that they look a bit stalky from the picture, I will tell you that these stalks have lots of buds just waiting to be born! And there was an accident that involved a really heavily blooming stalk and an elbow, lets just say the duct tape surgery didn’t work.

So my top tips are:

  1. Feed your orchids during their blooming time of year, I personally buy the Baby Bio brand but any brand will do.
  2. Find the perfect spot and they will thrive. These plants are from oriental climates and love heat and humidity but never direct sunlight. They would have lived under tree canopies and in around rocks and ferns.
  3. Moisture is a real no no for the Orchid. If you over water and leave them sitting in a pool then they will die. In their natural habitat they clung in and around rocks and soil. The water would have naturally drained away through the rocks so they just don’t cope well with a swamp!
  4. They do like company so if you have a few group them together or repot them like I did above.
  5. Give their leaves a bit of a dust every once and a while – its like orchid grooming, showing them you care!!
  6. Enjoy your beautiful, regal and amazing plant.