Sunday, March 7, 2021

Four Seasons Harvest at Harmony Hall

Just get things in the ground. Give them a chance to grow if they want to. Keep talking to the soil. Never relent and use pesticides or cut things down, if they're apparently in the way. Work with nature. There's room for everyone and everything. That is my philosophy

Beetroot, roots very sweet, leaves still tender. 

Same with the chard - huge big leaves in the fullest of health (and notice the pesky avocado coming up behind!!! I must have about 40 avocado trees now!!!

Daffodils I planted 15 years ago when my friend Adrian Feasey died. It was he who restored the church windows when I built Harmony Hall originally. I have been helped by so many people and lost many friends in this short span of time. As James Joyce said 'They lived and laughed and loved and left'.

In early December, I was suddenly aware that I hadn't planted any spring flowers, winter beans, garlic or onions. I'd missed the moment...Or so I thought. I planted a bulb of garlic - so about 13 cloves - straight from the supermarket. And now a few short months later, here they are coming on strong.

That's the house and the stable angled to perfection behind it! I don't know if you ever saw the video of me measuring out the exact orientation and several of us leaning against it as it hung aloft on chains, from the digger, trying to put it down in the right place!!

This is ALL the hazelnuts that germinated ( I stratified 150 and planted them all beautifully) but still, there's about 13 and they will be a nut orchard one day (watch this space....but don't hold your breath)

My 'hugel kulture' bed (which is like a lasagne bed, where you make many layers of twigs and hay and manure and soil) didn't really work yet as I think the roots of my trees were exposed to a chill under the layers. 

But the gutters (as seed trays) are now full of the seeds sent to me, saved and those precious many-generational seeds that I got from the Natural Agriculture course!

 I had to send this close up of some of the kale as most people's kale is a heavy stalk by now, like a brussels sprout stem with some good tough leaves off it...mine is still tender spring leaves and brilliantly thriving - some of the plants,  I've only just replanted from the gutters and they get a new lease of life then and don't seem to realise it's mid winter!

This is my one indoor rustic bed where I harvested the 20 carrot from this week but it perennially hosts the Kumquat tree and a couple more avocado trees. The ex-scaffolding plank was Mark Stewart's RIP as were the sawn off scaffolding pipes that hold up the free standing polytunnel outside. This avocado gallery is also a poly tunnel but I attached it to the house - no more building and flipping blowing away again for me! Anyway, for those worried about soil against their house, I used polycarbonate left over from the roof to line the back of the beds so no dampness transfers.   

You might remember the little trellis beds I bought from a catalogue - they looked ginormous on the page and were supposed to pig-proof some espaliered Victoria Plum trees. When they arrived it was obvious that they would actually fit on a windowsill and made of the flimsiest wood imaginable! Anyway, my two orange trees are thriving there (it's in the avocado gallery...which allows me to sometimes refer to it as the 'orangerie'   which is entertaining and certainly not out of place in the context of a house so ostentatiously named!!! Anyway, there are 4 avocado trees, no less, crammed in around the orange trees so i might have to work out what to do about them!!

The yin yang beds i built. I took in a bit of floor in this photo so you could enjoy the paving i did last year. That prostrate tree at the front is an olive and there's an upward surging one behind it!

 I was just tidying up a bed in the tunnel and found ten potatoes and no doubt there'll be ten more when I go further!


Sage, Parsley and flat leaf parsley

The key to success is leaving the seedlings in the gutter seed trays all summer to produce 'spring greens' of the kale and beetroot variety. Then to plant them out (as far as the tunnel) in autumn. They love the new space to play with and go again on the growing front.  

I couldn't believe the polytunnel that has really lots and lots of things to eat. I somehow have achieved that 'four seasons harvest' I intended to, even though I don't know how!

This is the willow, I am weaving - 10 to 30 whips a day maximum, so a good 10,000 to go! But it is a lovely process, unlike the loppers and secateurs frenzy of most years!

My 3rd olive tree - which doubled as a Christmas tree this year. It had so many lights on it, the need for water got overlooked but it is now recovering its dignity slowly.

Yin Yang bed is heaving with the most mature avocado trees and as some of them are 11 and 12 years old, this year they may flower and bear fruit. Leading supplier in Ireland, I'm sure!

Self-seeded young leeks, totally delicious and I won't make last year's mistake of aiming for shop-bought-size. When I did, they went to seed and flowered. I like there to be something flowering in the polytunnel and avocado gallery at any one time, for the bees. The leek and carrot flowers were epic but the cabbage and rocket flowers just keep coming and don't take up quite so much space! 

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